Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Loss of Motivation or a Loss of Consciousness?

One of the most familiar experiences any long term martial arts practitioner has dealt with is acknowledging an ongoing battle between having once enjoyed a burning desire to train, and now, an emerging state of mind that lacks even the energy to make it to the gym. If you are one of these people or want to help someone who is, please pause for a second and just let the reality of this thought sink in. This is your beginning, the point from which you make your first step.

Some day you will realize that this place in your life will become more important than pursuing any first step into some self-motivational course or immediately attempting to take action for change. You did not get here quickly with just a few, short steps, and nor will you leave this place quickly with a few, short, quick-fix steps either.

Sometimes we are manipulated by fear, perhaps a fear of being humiliated by failure, and at other times, the responsibility of success. I've seen this with school owners and I've watched sport champions self-destruct over the fear of feeling unworthy of their own good fortune. The sport of boxing comes to mind here.

Human nature has structured us to live more to avoid pain than to experience pleasure or joy. Therefore, we tend to allow these "fears to sabotage the efficacy of consciousness, thereby worsening the initial problem"---to quote one of my mentors, Dr. Nathaniel Branden. Over time, we gradually make ourselves emotionally numb to certain things that once inspired us. Emotions have a propensity to encourage and discourage thinking; they can draw us towards wanting to train or away from doing so.

This emotional resistance is what makes taking a first step towards change very difficult. When we make ourselves able to feel less, we make ourselves psychologically blind---we become in effect more unconscious. We feel safe there; this behavior makes life more bearable. I have always said that one's self-image or self-concept is imperative to becoming great. If you have worked yourself into a temporary negative self-image, and have also allowed this to dictate your actions, then your performance, or lack of, to consistently engage in purposeful training will reflect this definition.

Hopefully, at this point you can begin to sense whether you have been motivated by fear or by confidence. One will lead you to being the martial artist you admire and the other will lead you to avoid challenges by allowing you to continue to hide in fear of being exposed.

Any motivation begins with a higher awareness of self---that is the key to what martial arts is about. This awareness is about knowing who you are, and about in what do you trust (the method of your own thinking processes), and also about a strong commitment to that which you call your inner reliance. Now you have a position from which you can take a first step. How does one know to where or why he is going if he does not know (to embrace, to fully acknowledge, and to own) from where he is starting?

My feelings are the keys to my motivation and my desires. My spirit is my energy and my pathway. My mentor and/or instructors are my guides and my escorts. Don't leave home without any of them.

"The emotional brick walls are not there to sidetrack you or keep you from training; they're there to give you a chance to show the courage to prove which is stronger, the will to overcome or the lack of."

Joe Lewis