As a kid, I was always physical and athletic. I was good at anything I tried. Sports seemed to come easy to me and being good motivated me because I got a lot of recognition and attention. Standing out as a good athlete, especially when I was competing with and against other kids made me feel special. I loved the feeling of being effective and I was driven to succeed and excel. Practice was as competitive as any game for me.
Move forward to 31 years old and boxing.
When I started, I sucked. I hated hitting the heavy bag because I felt so ineffective. I felt powerless and weak. I only liked to spar. It felt good to hit people because I had held back a ton of anger and aggression over the years, opting for looking good and seeming nice. and even when I sucked, the release I got from being able to punch outweighed the feeling terrible.
I didn’t realize how poor my ability to handle discomfort had developed. All those years being focused on outside attention and gaining self worth from outcome and not consistent hard work or the process made me soft. I hadn’t developed the skill to push through uncomfortable things or to keep focus. I was mentally fragile in stressful situations. I resorted to anger and outbursts often to disguise my unease.
Before matches if I hit the mitts poorly, I would panic and was certain I would do terrible in the match. Even though it wasn’t always true, I would always have the same experience. Hitting mitts well= going to do well, hitting mitts bad= poor performance looming= bad boxer.
It took me to almost the end of my boxing career to gain enough awareness of my habits. It took coaching an elite level boxer to realize I better get good at being uncomfortable in epic doses. I’d say that now it is one of my best and most valuable skills and I am not even close to satisfied with my ability. The strength and calm I gain from being able to know I am uncomfortable, stay there and continue on with the task at hand is the most powerful experience ever. I am present, physical, in my zone and able to slow everything down around me. This skill is what I desire to pass on to every boxer I encounter.
It is this skill I commit my life to perfecting and finally, finally I am happy to go through the process of working on it!