Blind Spots

One of my biggest blind spots that has continually sabotaged me has been trying to stay and act strong. When in real time, I am mentally exhausted, my emotions are not in my control.

I don’t know whether to call this a personality or character fault. It happens under high pressured scenarios where FFF response hijacks me. Looking back I can see situations where my biggest mistakes were made in freeze or fight back mode. I am trying to think of a situation where flight caused me to make mistakes. If anything, taking a step back or fleeing/ running away, seems a better option when hijacked by the emotional brain i.e., amygdala. There is no shame in surviving, live to fight another day.

As a martial arts practitioner…. what will I choose when hijacked by my emotional brain? Fight, flight or freeze? Definitely not freeze… it’s either fight or flight and the judgement call somewhat comes from experience and practise. Exposure to fighting experiences. Once more there is no shame in surviving to live to fight another day, from a position of strength. A martial arts practitioner is a smart fighter, who knows when and when not to engage in battles. He understands that there maybe losing battles, but the war is won by strategy and plan. Damn… I am starting to sound like Sun Tzu. 😅

I am writing this because I am trying to assess why in different situations, my nature is to fight back but that’s because in real time, I cannot tell that my emotional brain has hijacked me. This happens under high pressured scenarios.

Going forwards what procedures or process can I put in place to avoid this pitfall? Flight is a good option that gives me a chance to step back, cut the loss short. It gives me a chance to step away, however, it will only be effective if I can be aware in real time. The emotional brain can be very tricky and often it is very hard to know what is happening until the damage is done.I have failed to do this over and over again. I have made a lot of mistakes in life, in high pressured scenarios, in high performance activities. I guess the only way to overcome these faults of mine is by sticking to a process. It’s easier said than done in real time. But if I am able to take corrective action especially to something I have been blind for so long. I can avoid pitfalls and sabotaging behaviour. I can minimise it, I can keep it under check.

I also know that it will not happen overnight and that it will take further practise. In pursuit of any craft, deliberate practise with focused attention is what builds the necessary skills. That said, I am glad to at least have gained this knowledge through constantly reviewing my own work, performances and analysing fights.

The reason why I like to compare my behaviour and my responses in martial arts to other high performance activities is because my experience and skills are greater in martial arts than other high performance endeavours and skills I am pursuing. It provides me an opportunity to assess my nature, my learnt behaviours. By nature I am fiesty, I do not like losing, I am competitive. I like to do better each time. I am impatient and act often without thinking. Knowing all my faults, the only thing that can save me from myself is a process- one of deliberate practise with focused attention.

To summarise this to myself and hopefully it helps you too, my biggest blind spot is keep on fighting even when hijacked by the amygdala. Why? Because my character has been shaped over years such that I act strong even when I am not. Here perhaps what I am seeing is the double edged sword that resilience is. However, it is not resilience that keeps me fighting. It is my emotions.

5 Tips to Revert Back To Being The Old You

Currently I am going through a deep process of rewiring my subconscious and unconscious minds. Think of this process as slowly learning to shed old shell and growing a new one. Or imagine how a caterpillar evolves into a butterfly. Or just imagine how Pikachu evolves to Raichu, not that I am a Pokemon. The mind is limitless, the vastness of our minds allow us to improve continually and seek out discomfort for accelerated learning.

On the contrary our minds; the subconscious and unconscious selves, are also resistant to change. This resistance can halt the process of evolution and growth and seek comfort where there is psychological safety. Where there is a safe space, where there are accepted and embedded beliefs, actions and thought patterns.

If you want easy tips to revert back to being your old self, just follow these 5 simple tips:

1. Sleep excessively

2. Stop exercising

3. Get lazy and stop looking after your mind and body.

4. Ignore your spiritual needs. Stop meditating

5. All of above will grow your doubts enough that you abandon going after your latent potential.

This is a message for myself first. In the past couple of weeks I have stopped exercising, stopped stretching, stopped running. I have been oversleeping. I have a poor sleep pattern. I have poor discipline and eating habits. If I stay any longer this way, I will be sure to revert back to being the old me. But wait, I am trying to think now what that old self was like? Does this imply I am close to turning into a butterfly? That said, there are periods when I am lazy and unproductive.

Hope is something you give yourself in the darkest times. Balance

Sometimes it’s through these slumps and picking myself back up from them that helps me accept that there will be more periods where I may not want to write, may not want to exercise, may not want to meditate.

Instead of going down the rabbit hole of asking myself, Why am I like this during these periods? I should start asking myself, how can I do a little better tomorrow? How can I create a new idea for a blog post? How can I refuel my energy to exercise and meditate?

By asking How? I can then think of What action I can take?

Humans are complex creatures. We make all the easy things difficult for ourselves. We continue to seek out motivation, we continue to seek out the reasons why? The Why can be the reason for doing or not doing, it can be the reason for the cause effect relation, it can be the reason for seeking certainty amidst uncertainty. If we can learn to embrace the uncertainty, we can rid ourselves of The Why and learn to be in the present and seek out The How and The What?

A light bulb 💡 moment. I don’t do this enough. I am going to find things that I am grateful for, look back see the progress so far, look back and see what % of the time I have been sticking to the process. Look back and see % of errors. Be grateful for the progress and process and continue to refine it. Most of all be grateful. If anything the only thing I have really stopped doing in the past 2 months is writing down things that I am grateful for. Got to get back on track. Life is a blessing when you can find gratitude in your heart and in the blessings surrounding you.

5 Things I Learnt From The Book ‘Think Again’

If you aren’t interested in the title of the book Think Again. You might want to reconsider and duh Think Again!

Or realistically speaking at least check out the last chapter, ‘Actions for impact’ and, then listen to the prologue. It will just make you want to listen or read the whole book. I am just saying this for those who might not be interested in this book. Personally, I am a big fan of Adam Grant’s work. I won’t say that I know all of his work but some of it has helped me think and think again, and that doesn’t just go for this book.

So, here’s the 5 Things I think I got out from the book.

1. Instead of asking why? Question yourself how?

The Why can more often than not, make you fall into a deep rabbit hole and instead of seeking out new ways to do things. You deepen your reasons for your beliefs and embed them in your subconscious.

2. Out of the box thinking is difficult because it exposes you and sheds your identity. Refer to the firefighter example mentioned in the epilogue.

3. To persuade others, it’s better to ask rational questions that help see the situation through different lenses and big picture views than piling up the facts alone. Lesson from the 8 year old in Think Again.

4. Less is more! It’s better to have 3 days of solid work out routine rather than 7 days of sub par days. It’s better to have 3 focused hours of deliberate practise than 7 hours of gruelling underperformance.

5. Coaching involves helping others reach their own decisions, it’s not about trying to dictate or control other person’s decisions. Great mentors, coaches and motivational speakers are better listeners. They know how to listen and respond with appropriate questions. They guide others by empowering them with knowledge, self-discovery and helping others reach their own conclusions rather than providing them with answers or suggesting what they ought to do.

There’s much more in this book. In this moment however, these 5 ideas can help me ask the right questions of myself and those around me, in order to improve and overcome fear and anxiety. 

Image: Bookcover Think Again