Climbing the Mountain
Recently, I have begun martial arts training again after many years of not being involved in this type of physical training.
Fitness has always been important to me so the physicality of taking up this endeavor has not been difficult. For me, however, it is the memorization and execution of technique that I have always struggled with, when I was younger it seemed like the other students "got it" much easier and quicker than me. I felt like on the days I wasn't in a training class, I needed to practice a lot on my own, just to keep up with the other students during the actual classes.
My fellow student and friend Jay were very good and I felt jealous of him a lot due to his fluid body mechanics and innate ability to grasp easily whatever the instructor was teaching. I constantly questioned myself. Why couldn't I be like him? Why did I have to struggle so much to keep my footwork in-sync with what my upper body was doing? And finally, I should be better at this than I am.
It wasn't until years later after I had completed graduate school and begun counseling other people that I recognized these types of thoughts as distorted thinking, something all of us do to a certain degree. All of us question ourselves and sometimes we come up with what the late psychologist Albert Ellis called 'Irrational Beliefs.'
The 'should' and 'must' statements in our heads are a perfect example of this: I should be better at this and I must be like all the others. Often times, when we compare ourselves to others, these beliefs really start to take off in our heads.
In life, we all have to climb the mountain. For each one of us, that mountain is different, for some, it is a large foothill, for others it is Everest. How we choose to climb this mountain is up to us.
We can either compare our hiking abilities to others, as they climb their mountains or we can focus on putting one foot in front of the other and not allow faulty beliefs to keep up from moving forward and up. When you find yourself saying I must... or I should...Do not follow it or let it go, challenge it! Why make that climb up the mountain more difficult than it has to be???