This is really for anyone doing any sport. I use BJJ examples, but feel free to jump in on the comments even if you don’t do jiu jitsu!
The tag line for Peace Corps is “The hardest job you’ll ever love.” I found, during and after my time in Ukraine, that “hardest” meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people. There were some who felt braced and ready to deal with extreme rural living in Africa, but when presented with life in Ukraine, they left. For some, not being needed was the hardest aspect. For other, it might have been not having friends, feeling like an outsider, etc. Lots of people quit Peace Corps before their time is fully up.
Today on my way to jiu jitsu, I realized that a lot of the mental challenges are much harder than the physical ones. Sure, it’s tough to do some of those fancy moves, but I think for many people, “harder” equates more to the emotional/mental side, which is what I want to ask and talk about.
Over the years (okay seriously – it still blows my mind that I can say that!!), what is mentally hardest for me changes. When I got my blue belt I had to get over the mental hurdle of not feeling like I was at the skill of my belt. A little while back I realized I was sometimes one of the highest ranked people on the mat at any given time, and that felt really difficult–I’m fine being the worst – not as fine being better. Other times, feeling like I can’t do anything or can’t pull off jiu jitsu against a fully resisting male opponent has been the most difficult aspect. After my injury, I was really worried about getting injured.
However, for me, the hardest part about jiu jitsu – above everything else, and this is consistent – is actually going. It’s the chat that I have with Sally when the weather is terrible. “It’s so cold and raining and snowing and windy – it would be SO MUCH BETTER to go home. Think of all you could do if you went home.” Once I’m there I’m FINE! But it’s the challenge of NOT going home sometimes. It’s my desire to be lazy.
To combat Sally, I try to decide at the beginning of the week how many days to go. It’s usually 3-4. I plan out the days in advance. Then, as much as possible, I go on autopilot. I shut off that part of my brain and just GO. If I can automate that aspect, all the better.
JiuJiu’s Question: What, for you, is the most difficult mental/emotional hurdle you face for your sport of choice? How do you talk yourself off that ledge, or is it simply muted momentarily and is always a low rumble in the background?