Being authentic- discovering how to let myself out of the depths I have hidden- being myself to the fullest is a huge passion……I have chosen boxing to access my innermost self. Some of us pick sports, music, writing, speaking, photography, painting, therapy, community service and a million other mediums. I am driven to give a space for others to access their authenticity. I am driven to give others the room to be exactly who they are.
I have mostly lived my life seeking approval, wanting to be liked and approved by others. This wasn’t an inauthentic way to live….this was a very real struggle for me- an authentic one. This struggle gave me the practice, endurance and strength to be prepared for what emerged from deep inside of me. To be prepared to meet myself. To be prepared for the strength it takes to live new levels of authenticity. To be the boxer and coach with the style I have and not the style I think looks best to the crowd. What is your struggle? Do you see it as a weakness to be destroyed, gotten over, obliterated? Do you honor your struggle and see the value?
I often weigh the balance of authenticity and boundary. What is too much information, versus, lying and hiding? How do you determine the balance? How can you be authentic without going past the kind of boundaries that keep you connected and how do you reduce the use of protective mechanisms? I’m interested in these things, because when you are a boxer, everything you think you are hiding shows up in the ring whether you like it or not. You can have a few matches where you won’t be exposed, but it’s inevitable, you will meet the person who makes you reveal all you have been suppressing. Of course, this also happens in daily life, though it might take a little longer than a 3 minute round.
A couple of months ago, I was feeling a bit rough and I was trying to balance being truthful, private, having boundaries and being an accessible coach. I believe I have to walk the talk, or what’s the point of me leading others? One of my boxers came up to me and asked if I was ok. I found the answer to authenticity I was looking for in our simple and short dialogue.
Boxer: Hey coach, you ok?
Me: No, I’m really not. I am really going through it and this is a tough one
Boxer: Is it going to be ok?
Me: Yeah, but it’s going to be a painful process and I’m not always going to feel totally energetic
Boxer: I get that. Well, I hope it gets better soon
Me: Thank you! I’m doing it like I tell you, keep showing up, pay attention to what you feel and the answers will come
Boxer: That’s what’s up
I found a way to connect, be truthful, not pretend or be falsely positive. I found a way to feel heard in a small interaction. I could share a common experience without the details and it was relieving. I don’t have to be on top of anything….I don’t have to be perfect or infallible. I just have to be an authentic human being with a range of emotions and experiences that I can be willing to share with others so they too can experience theirs without shame, humiliation or a bunch of unnecessary protective mechanisms that keep us from accessing our true strengths.
Read this paragraph below and I’ll give you my take after.
(All people operate from the same two motivations: to fulfill their desires and to escape their suffering.
Learning this allowed me to finally make sense of how people can hurt each other so badly. The best explanation I had before this was that some people are just bad. What a cop-out. No matter what kind of behavior other people exhibit, they are acting in the most effective way they are capable of (at that moment) to fulfill a desire or to relieve their suffering. These are motives we can all understand; we only vary in method, and the methods each of us has at our disposal depend on our upbringing and our experiences in life, as well as our state of consciousness. Some methods are skillful and helpful to others, others are unskillful and destructive, and almost all destructive behavior is unconscious. So there is no good and evil, only smart and dumb (or wise and foolish). Understanding this completely shook my long-held notions of morality and justice.—–David Cain)
I do believe that a lot of behavior starts off unconscious, but I believe that destructive behavior can be done consciously—- and it can be done until you can really feel what is happening and then it will let you go. Sometimes you have to get hit over and over and over with the same punch until you can feel what physical habits you are repeating that cause you to be unable to get out of the way. This could take 3 minutes, or it could take 10 years. You can’t over think it. It’s not a thinking problem, it’s in your body and muscle memory. The more you can stay present and feel what you are doing the greater chance you have of seeing and hearing the answers to change. To me, this is a very authentic experience. It’s what boxers do day in and day out. They repeat their patterns over and over and learn to feel them in the body. Boxers then choose those patterns or new ones if needed. It’s called skill building. This is possible in the ring and it’s possible in your daily life. Going through this experience and sharing it is the most authentic living I can imagine and I love that it is my profession.