Lessons for Difficult Times

Sometimes life throws us something completely unexpected, and we lose all sense of where we are.

It can be a moment of tragedy – like when somebody dies, you lose a job, you get into a car accident – or just a creeping sense of hopelessness shows up from out of nowhere.

So what does the Martial Arts teach us about these moments?

Which “classroom lessons” do we look to when the world around us seems to be falling apart?

In my experience, the moments when everything is collapsing are the most fertile ground for our practice, provided we draw on the right resources. We’ve actually been preparing for this by training ourselves during the non-traumatic times.

Finding your center once you’ve been knocked out of your orbit happens in stages. Here are a few of the ways you can manage times like this:

• Look for your strengths: Identify the things you love, and the things you love to do, and reconnect with them. Those times when we feel weakest and most out of sync are a chance to revisit what we know well.

In both Jiu-Jitsu and Thai Boxing, when you’re off balance, you have to recompose your guard before anything else. Returning to your strengths can mean focusing in on the positive habits that are a part of your life, or seeking out the support of those who’ve provided you with strength and counsel in the past.

• Stay focused on high-value activities: Avoid the temptation to get caught up in low-value activities that lead you to the lowest common denominator. What are the most effective principles?

The more time you can spend in areas in which you feel productive, effective and meaningful, the faster you can return to your baseline. Sure, there are time when you’ve got to just “cope”, but once that period is through, it’s time to return your attention to the things you care most about.

• Revisit your model: Seeking out a mentor or a model during challenging times can be a way of reorienting ourselves. If there’s a road that’s already paved, it helps to get on it and stay on it, especially if your car feels like it’s just idling.

Just like in the dojo classroom, we often need that commonsense advice when our thinking becomes cloudy. With some mindfulness we can expand outwards in moments of difficulty, instead of withdrawing inwards.

When things are crumbling, the decision to face ourselves can be difficult, but the training we do has embedded answers in us. When we’re willing to deal with our pain, challenge, struggle head-on we actually have a chance of overcoming it.


Read more about our cooperative method at The Martial Arts Mind.

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One thought on “Lessons for Difficult Times

  1. I never thought that Martial Arts could be so profound and teach you things about other areas of your life. I’m just getting started with BJJ and looking forward to this exciting journey 🙂

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