Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Frustrated with your Training?

Do you sometimes become frustrated with your training? It's not uncommon. As our skills improve and we learn more, we become dissatisfied with our own performance.

Below is an excerpt from a post that appeared at the Brazillian Ju Jutsu Mind blog. The full article may be read here.

Before getting to the excerpt, I'd like to share a quote with you:

 “What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”-Ira Glass”

Frustration is an Important and Inevitable Part of the Jiu Jitsu Journey.  It is important to recognize that feelings of frustration motivate us to grow. If we experience too little frustration, we wont be motivated to improve – then where would we be?  Frustration is a physiological necessity for us to reach the higher realms of our individual Jiu Jitsu potential.

Frustration is a Sign of Growth.  Frustration not only spurs growth, it is also the byproduct of improvement.  Improving our skills requires us to try new things, be uncomfortable, fail, learn, expand and become more than we were before.  Frustration and discomfort are signs that we are exploring new territories and acquiring new skill sets.  Frustration is a sure sign that we are growing and increasing our abilities.

Confronting Frustration Increases Confidence.  Frustration is a motivating factor.  It can motivate us to quit, or inspire us to improve.  Giving in to frustration will leave us even more dissatisfied in the long run.  That is because working through frustration increases our confidence, while giving up in the face of frustration lowers our self-esteem.   Frustration provides us with an opportunity to gain the confidence that results from feeling deeply and not falling apart.  Feeling frustrated but staying on target for your goal will let you get in touch with the feeling, deep down, that you can and will figure it out.

Ways to Overcome Frustration.  Remembering that frustration is necessary and beneficial can help change our perspective on frustration from an enemy to an ally. Here are some other suggestions for overcoming frustration:

Recommit to Having Fun.  Take the pressure off by reminding yourself that Jiu Jitsu is a fun activity.  It is a form of play.  It is much more than a contest of who won or lost – it is also a creative outlet, a way to get into great shape, a social activity, and much more – all of which can have a very positive impact on our lives.  Take the pressure off. You don’t have to be the best – just having fun is a legitimate reason for doing something.

Want It Bad Enough.  You are responsible for your own inspiration.  Having a strong desire to learn and grow will provide us with the fuel to deal with the inevitable frustration that is associated with learning Jiu Jitsu.  

Lower the Bar.  It sounds strange, but lowering the bar can replace frustration with satisfaction.  Don’t beat yourself up for not training 6 days a week.  Commend yourself for making it 2 days a week.  If you have a family and a career – that is commendable.  If you are home playing video games – less so.  Strive to be your best – but learn to accept your limits are real.  

Focus More on the Journey than The Destination. Focusing on the journey itself can be enough for the pressure and frustration to subside.  Pushing ourselves and striving to be our best can be a good thing, but there is a point at which it can turn on us – and become overwhelming.

The Road is Hard Enough – Adopt a Positive Mindset.  Applaud your progress.  The road to Black Belt (and beyond) is hard enough.  If we continually beat ourselves up along the way it becomes impossible.  We can easily become our own worst critic.  We all make mistakes – there is no need to magnify them.  Focus on what you did well and the areas in which you are improving.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others.  The natural tendency to compare our selves to others can quickly lead to frustration.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  Compare yourself to where you used to be.  Are you better than you were last month?  Last year?  Better than you were as a white belt?  If the answer is yes, then keep going!  You will soon realize that you really have come a long way. Time to celebrate, not mope.

Conclusion.  Is Jiu Jitsu frustrating you?

You are not alone.  It seems that frustration is a natural and normal part of the Jiu Jitsu learning process.

Frustration is an intense emotion – but on the other side we can often find growth and progress.


Paul said...

Rick, your Glass quote is superb. Speaking to those with initial creative potential, I reckon that hard work is a necessarily evil, assuming that you got a hidden dynamite to be hopefully going to explode one day - it may never explode due to not enough digging, or it won't explode despite how deep you dig, 'cause there is nothing big inside in the first place.

Frustration is a sign of good mental health, at least you know that you're not there. More often we see people holding a cheap fire cracker and believing that they are holding a plastic bomb..

Needless to say, we will be much happier if we are satisfied with holding little fire cracker, though there is no harm that we still keep digging and enjoy the process of digging..perhaps we're lucky and there is actually something great within, who knows?

Rick Matz said...

I think we should always try to improve, but to be frustrated seems like kind of an emotional response instead of clear thinking.

Kyokushin karate said...

I used to get intensely frustrated when I'd hit the wall during training and not have enough steam to press on. A few changes to my diet and now it is no longer an issue.

Now I just get frustrated every time I do our first kata. I feel every mistake!

Rick Matz said...

To be able to recognize your own mistakes is a step towards being self correcting.

Yamabushi said...

This is an important post for every martial artists, I think. If you take your training seriously to any degree, there is always at least one time where you ask yourself "What's next and why can't I break this plateau?" Thank you for the post.