I was less than a year old. My parents were driving myself and my twin brother, Hank, to our first shoot for Ghostbusters 2. They were late, which I would come to find out was standard operating procedure. I was told I threw up when we got there, my parents thought it must have been the car ride, and I was cleaned up and began shooting.
Years later I am being bullied in elementary school, I am having a hard time talking, I am so mad I can’t even get a word out. I want to, but my voice is shaking. Not something you want to happen when you are staring down a bully. The difference was it wasn’t from fear, it was from rage. But it isn’t much different, anger or fear, if you can’t control it, it isn’t going to help you in any conflict.
I’m at my first martial arts tournament, I am sick to my stomach nervous, I head to the bathroom before my event. I chuck my breakfast into the toilet reverse osmosis style. I noticed though, I felt better. All but momentarily. I went down and ended up placing at my first event. Progress, I think. Unfortunately you can’t time throwing up perfectly every time.
So began my quest to try and learn how to better control my emotions. I’ve read so many books on the topic, Highly Sensitive People, The Art of Mental Training, Radical Acceptance, The Book of Five Rings, and numerous mindfulness books. All in hopes of better controlling the emotions I get in the moment. I don’t seem to have a problem acting in the moment, it’s the anticipation that builds apprehension. With my first amateur fight coming up in less than a week, I thought I would review some of the techniques I have learned.
Never look where your brain doesn’t want to go. I tell kids on the mat all the time if you look down you’ll go down when kids turn away. I am in a great situation, I have a very talented coach, I have been training hard for the past year, I have survived all my bad days(sometimes you have to fish for some positivity). When I get in the ring for the first time I am thinking I am as ready as I am going to be. I am also not deluding myself. My coach isn’t the first one to remind me to assume they have more power, speed, and technique. But my coach is the first one to remind me they are human, and that means they can make mistakes. And EVERYONE males mistakes, so I like my odds.
Imagine yourself at your best, or someone you admire. I picture someone from an anime fighting a King Kong type opponent and beating the snot out of them. Reinforcing the mindset that I don’t care who steps into that ring on Saturday, I am going to destroy them. I plan on visualizing I have already beaten several opponents by the time I hit the ropes on Saturday. In my mind this will not be my first fight, or my first victory.
-I went to a Tony Robbins once, and he taught a skill to put yourself into a highly confident positive state. I have two different ways to do this. I use a finger pinch, and I use a snapping punch. I have put myself into a confident state enough times that when I pinch my fingers, it brings those feelings back. I have snapped a punch when I feel strong and confident as well. If you come see me fight, watch for mew pinching my thumb and middle finger and snapping my punch.
I have been doing exposure therapy for PTSD. Exposure therapy involves reliving the worst parts of your trauma over and over to help desensitize you to them and your mind to process them. I had been doing relaxation techniques for years, but the safe space exercise my therapist taught me really was simple. He had me practicing creating a safe space in my mind, then we simplified it to one color. That way if the images I saw were too distressing I could focus on the color, and gradually expand it to everything else I associate with relaxation. PTSD sucks, but the skills it is teaching me will help me and allow me to help others. More importantly, it will keep me relaxed when I am getting into the ring Saturday.
I am going to go out on a limb here and say sometimes you can’t completely control your mental state. There are things that happen to us as humans that can throw our brains into overload till we hit a system failure. If that is the case with you, I recommend a book called Radical Acceptance. It has taught me there is a point where fighting the feeling instead of giving into it just helps more. I have learned this in other books put this one made it through all the beliefs that prevented me from accepting it before.