Mind Over Matter

So my martial arts competition didn’t quite go to plan. I lost two fights. My opponents weren’t massively better than me, I just didn’t perform that well.Shit happens. Despite being fairly psyched and prepared, I realise I still had the wrong mentality going into the fight.A sort of ‘shit this is gonna be hard’ kind of attitude.Now who knows, maybe I just had crap technique too. However the saying “if you think you’re going to lose, you’ve already lost” springs to mind, and thinking about this has made me conclude that mind over matter really canhelp you win in so many situations.

I have recently found myself in a position professionally where a number of people act emotionally and therefore unprofessionally during times of stress. I have heard a number of people shouting, getting angry or upset and it just is unfathomable that in a professional environment people are able to get away with being so disrespectful to others.However, like in my martial arts competition, I’ve come to realise it’s all about how you let these sorts of clashes affect you psychologically.We all know how much even the slightest rudeness from a stranger on the tube in the morning can really affect our mood.However in both the larger and smaller cases of such disrespect, all you need to do is just remain calm and cope with the bad like an Alpha. If you don’t know what I mean by that, try and figure it out. Don’t rise to the bait. Don’t be emotional.Remaining calm and not raising your voice will make you appear more reasonable and you also will be giving yourself time to rationally consider your words and give a better argument.It is much better to calmly say “I agree that there was a misunderstanding, but it’s now time to move on. We have rectified the issue, let’s plan how to ensure it doesn’t happen again”, instead of emotionally reacting either angrily or by becoming upset personally in these situations. People often get defensive when they realise they are wrong. There is no point in accusing people of things in order to backtrack on your crap argument. It just won’t help in the long run.

I wanted touch upon this here as it’s very linked to how I think people can deal with defeat as well. Despite the outcome of my competition, it still was well worth fighting.I learnt loads in training up for this and achieved a large personal challenge I had set myself in terms of healthier living and self-discipline. My coach said “Two losses…at least you were consistent…” Lol. One positive! In all seriousness, the comp has made me realise the psychological preparation I need to do for the next one, and has increased both my physical and mental toughness.CS recently included the following excellent quote on defeat in his blog post from just the other day.I simply have to include it again here, it’s amazing and everyone who sets themselves a challenge should bear this in mind, whether it’s physical or mental.THIS is character:

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of highachievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”Theodore Roosevelt speech “Citizenship in a Republic”at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910.

You don’t have to do martial arts to ‘strive valiantly’ or ‘dare greatly’ and achieve the best. But you do have to challenge and most importantly stand up for yourself if you ever wish to develop.Next time you’re defeated in something, or someone is unpleasant, simply realise that half the battle is psychological. Responding calmly and without anger will earn you greater respect from both others and yourself and will help you deal with the situation more effectively. Man up and move on; every experience in life is something to learn from.