My inspiration for this post was this tweet:

This can be true for anyone doing any kind of sport, going to school, exercising, learning a language, etc. It’s easy for some to default to unhappiness. I’m not immune to it, I’ve written before about keeping yourself in a good mental place,  and even celebrating negative achievements.

1. BEMOANING REALITY

I love the Shakespeare quote: “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” You didn’t exercise or do jiu jitsu last week. You can think of this as a bad thing, or you can just accept it and move on. Beating yourself up will do nothing but make you feel worse. You either can do the splits or you can’t. There is nothing to be gained by being terribly upset that you can’t do it. Accepting can mean accepting physical, schedule, or monetary limitations or realities.

This is not to say one should continue to accept something that makes you unhappy, but rather to think “This is my reality right now. I can’t change what happened, but I can move forward.” If it continues making you unhappy, then you need to make a change.

HAMLET Denmark’s a prison. [...]ROSENCRANTZ We don’t think so, my lord. HAMLET Well, then it isn’t one to you, since nothing is really good or bad in itself—it’s all what a person thinks about it. And to me, Denmark is a prison.

HAMLET  Denmark’s a prison.
[…]ROSENCRANTZ  We don’t think so, my lord.
HAMLET  Well, then it isn’t one to you, since nothing is really good or bad in itself—it’s all what a person thinks about it. And to me, Denmark is a prison.

 2. FOCUSING TOO MUCH ON TODAY’S ISSUE

If you think of jiu jitsu, or any other sport or hobby, as a novel, where are you in this novel? In the first chapter? Only a few pages in? When we read an actual book, the beginning is so much different than the middle or the ending. Just as characters undergo growth, so will you.

You may not be able to do something RIGHT NOW, but it doesn’t mean that it will never happen. You may be having an issue with your schedule right now, but it doesn’t mean that something won’t change. It’s easy to get myopic and lose focus of what’s important – the overall commitment to jiu jitsu, or your sport, or your body.

3. YOU “SHOULD” BE BETTER

It's nothing but crazymaking.

It’s nothing but crazymaking.

The most crazymaking word for me is “should.” When I focus on “should” I get overwhelmed with bad feelings. Let’s see if any of these sound familiar to you:

  • I should be able to do this by now.
  • I should be able to beat this guy already.
  • I’m a blue belt. I should be better.
  • I should have tapped someone by now.

I told this to my friend Pamila, and she said “We call that shoulding all over yourself.” I laughed and realized she was so wonderfully accurate.

What good truly comes from beating yourself up?

“Should” rarely means the same thing as “I want” or “I will.”

What if, instead of saying “should” we say “I want to” or “I will”? What if instead of bemoaning the idea that we should be able to do the splits, and instead say “I will practice X days per week?”

Jiu Jiu’s Question: Which negative thinking trap do you fall in? Are you currently struggling with any right now? From these tips, which is the most helpful for you? Any other tips you would add?