Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thesis Wednesday: Limiting Beliefs vs Positive Affirmation

The other day I posted Budovideos' weekly segment "This Week in BJJ" with Budo Jake talking to Lloyd Irvin and his proteges.

Partway through the interview, Keenan Cornelius talks about his positive/self affirmations he began utilizing to change his mindset. Namely, he would tell himself "I am the best purple belt inthe world, I just have to go out and prove it."
He anecdotally mentions that Lloyd would have him saying and yelling this in front of the entire training group.

There is an old saying from, I believe, Goebbels, the chief architect of the German propaganda machine during WWII, that "if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth."

If you speak to many high level athletes, competitors, Olympians, many of them espouse the use of visualization (literally picturing a positive affirmation like winning, executing a precision performance et cetera) if not self affirmations like statements made first thing in the morning or last thing before bed.

What you will not ever hear them discuss are "limiting beliefs". A limiting belief is any self-imposed restriction on your ability or success. Examples might be: I will never be a world champion in Jiu-Jitsu. I don't think I can win the absolute division because of my size. I am too old to learn Jiu-Jitsu.

This is not a post about "the secret" that book that tells you if you imagine it, you can form it into being within the fabric of the universe.

I would, however, argue that without positive affirmation and belief you will never maximize your own personal performance and ability.

Success becomes a positive feedback loop.
I realized months ago that my mentality on the mat in a Judo tournament versus in a Jiu-Jitsu tournament were very different.

I tell myself I will do well at X tournament.
I do well.
I believe I will do well at Y tournament.
I do well.
I expect that I will do well at Z tournament.

At some point, I surpass the point where negative feedback will attack my self-confidence. I have created a positive feedback loop that is stronger than self doubt. This is a CONTINUAL AND PERPETUAL PROCESS. There will always be those around you ready to try and drag you down: otherwise known as haters.
There is never a shortage of doubting Thomas' in the world. The key is to not be your own doubting Thomas.

On the Judo mat, I view it as my mat. I expect to win my division and likely the next weight class up. I see first place as the only logical outcome to the day of competition.
I have gained much positive feedback in Judo tournaments which affirms this thinking which then strengthens my belief in this reality that I hold to be self-evident.

Early on in my Judo competitions I began competing in the advanced division. As I beat brown belts I lost my fear and indecision, and began to believe and feel as though I was every bit as skilled as they were. Now, in reality, of course I was not. However, my at times irrational self-confidence allowed me to play in a manner that bypassed much of the indecision or self-doubt that would have surely led to my losing.
But my belief and affirmation of that allowed me to beat players I otherwise would not have bested in a tournament format.
I competed and won matches and tournaments with no ACL in my leg. I genuinely believed in my heart and mind that even without much use of one of my legs, I was still better than many other competitors. Narcissistic and egotistical? Sure.
Did I win more than had I not competed and sat at home bemoaning my injury?

You see this in fighters as well.
A fighter gets knocked out for the first time. Some fighters are never the same after this happens. They become "gun shy". The self doubt grows into a crippling force which breaks their will and their prior positive feedback cycle and then as they feel doubt they peform more poorly which enforces and strengthens the self doubt making it all the more crippling.
As someone who has seen the ups and downs of winning and losing in MMA, and having great days and terrible days in Jiu-Jitsu competition, I realized this lack of positive affirmation and crippling self doubt was a major impediment to my ability to maximize my performance despite whatever intensive training and preparation I had undergone.

The mental aspect is by far the most difficult yet powerful tool in any fighter's tool box.

No comments:

Post a Comment