Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Do What Terrifies You?

There is a theory put into practice by psychiatrists, psychologists, and others that people should do what scares them in order to get over being afraid.  Along these same lines, another thought is that you should always tackle what is hard for you because in the end it will no longer be hard and you will be a better person for having faced the challenge.

As I'm moving along with my practice of Muay Thai, I am beginning to find some of the expectations and requirements hard.  While I have never been one to back down from a challenge, and as I've said before, I am a person who generally finishes what they've started, I keep wanting to quit Muay Thai.

At last night's class I received a grey stripe on my belt which means that on Thursday, I will test for my next belt, which will be blue/green.  When I was handed my test sheet I noticed that the requirements for testing have changed and now we are being evaluated in four areas, only one of which is the same as previous tests.  I don't really have a problem with that, I just wish the professional staff at the dojo had told us this is a change that would be made.  Mr. Helen didn't even know about this as even though he's a Sensei, he's part time and does not evaluate students.  I suppose, as Mama Helen always said, it's probably just a good idea to be on your P&Qs all the time because you never know who is watching.

After the stripes and test sheets were handed out, the Sensei told us that those who were testing should bring full gear and our bo staff, which is the weapon we are currently working.  This is also new and means that not only will we have to demonstrate combinations and fitness, there is a good likelihood that we will be doing some sparring and it definitely seems we are going to have to demonstrate our weapon.

I immediately felt sick to my stomach - and a bit itchy which could mean I'm about to break out in hives, something I've battled since I was a child.  As I drove home I realized that these new protocols for test feel dreadful to me because they combine something I find hard, something I dislike and something that terrifies me all into one 30 minute test. 

While I sometimes struggle to remember exact combinations, especially if they refer to them by number, I can usually pick it up once it starts and sort of bluff my way through it.  My fitness is not really a problem though I know it can (and will!) be better as I improve on my weight and waist ratios.  But sparring?  I dislike it immensely and I find it hard.  For whatever reason the combinations we practice, do not click in my head as things to use during sparring, so I find it extremely hard.   Sensei Mr. Helen keeps telling me that I need to practice and that between muscle memory and practice it will get easier and I will do better.  The problem is I don't want to practice, because I don't like it!  As for the weapons, I feel like maybe I will eventually be better, but I am not right now.  In class when we have to practice weapons my mind will just go blank and suddenly I can't remember the next move.  Of course I can always look at another student and copy them but it's quite frustrating.

To top it all off, the thought of having to do all these things in front of the instructors who don't have a class full of people but who can just concentrate on me, well, that is flat out terrifying.

I am not completely sure why I am lacking self confidence as right this minute I could get up in front of a huge group of people and wing a speech. So it doesn't seem to be that I am always afraid of the spotlight.  However, I am finding when it comes to Muay Thai, I just want to blend in and not have the focus on me.  So now I find myself at a crossroads because honestly, if I don't go to the test on Thursday, they will still give me my next belt the next time I go to class.  Because the fact  that I'm invited to test means I'm ready and deserve it. 

I can honestly tell you that as I sit and type, I have no idea what I will do. All I can tell you is that I'm scared and don't know why.


  1. After reading this I can totally understand your fear. I would be scared too if I was in the same position. I can tell you to go but that wouldn't be fair because honestly I don't know if I would. And it's no use telling someone to do something when you don't do it yourself.

    I do think however you can do it!

    "Along these same lines, another thought is that you should always tackle what is hard for you because in the end it will no longer be hard and you will be a better person for having faced the challenge."

    I like this line in your blog post, it gives me that little push I need for my next half marathon training. Tell you about that in my blogpost tonight.

  2. Maybe you're wanting to hide because you want to hide something else. Maybe a new epiphany you've had? Or that you don't want to let go of an old philosophy? You don't want to talk to Mr. Helen?

    Those are things that I would think about myself.

    I'm sure you'll figure something out. To be courageous you simply do what you have to do in spite of your fear. courageous = Helen

  3. UGH don't be scared. I know, easy for me to say. The Biggest Loser this season has been all about conquering fears and it's something I've been thinking a lot about. You've got to do the hard things too - that's how you progress. You're AMAZING Helen. Look how far you've come and remember that during the testing! GOOD LUCK!!!

  4. Yesterday I saw a quote that I shared on Facebook: "The way it works is, you do the thing you’re scared shitless of, and you get the courage AFTER you do it, not before you do it." ~ Archie Gates from the movie Three Kings.

    You know how I feel about the way things are being run at the dojo so when I read your post, it went through *that* filter, if you know what I mean. I decided that I did not enjoy doing the weapons, and that I certainly did not like sparring, and so going for a black belt became much less of a priority. Fear? Maybe a little, but mostly, for me, it's just not what lights me up. It's not a priority. I have done plenty of things that scare me, especially in the past six months. I have put myself out there in a way that I have never done before. It was scary AND exhilarating AND it lit me up AND it was in line with my priorities.

    What I have realized is that I don't have to sign up for other people's goals and dreams. When I made the decision to join the Black Belt team, I made it without understanding that that's what I was doing...I thought getting a black belt would make me skinny...yes, on some level that's why I did it and that is the WRONG reason to do something like that (at least it was for me). Do I love the Muay Thai workout? For sure...but I realized that I signed up for BBT for all the wrong reasons.

    Whatever you decide Helen, I will be behind you all the way...I've got your back!

  5. You can do it Helen! I am so impressed with your muay thai skillz, I don't even know if I would have the courage to even go to one class - and now they think you are ready to get the next belt!

    Go Helen - you can do it! I'll continue to be your cheerleader either way! :D

  6. Lurker here -- I'm more than a little bit skeptical of that "do what's hard" mentality. If we all were like that, then butterflies would kill themselves trying to swim their whole lives instead of doing what Nature made them to do and beautifully: fly.

    Certain things come easily to us because we're meant to do them. For me, that's music. I'm not going to sell my piano and go force myself to play basketball because I hate it and it's hard for me. I have musical talent because I'm supposed to. Michael Jordan went with his natural skills, too -- he didn't force himself to do what he hated and turn his back on basketball.

    The hell with doing what terrifies you. That's a popular myth, but it's a myth. Do what EXCITES you. Follow your gifts. You were given them for a REASON.

  7. The word I picked up on was "bluff." Whenever we're bluffing, it's difficult to have self-confidence. This testing is probably not something you can bluff your way out of.

  8. I find it pretty hard to do anything I don't like but I'm willing to try something long enough and give it a chance. Just because I don't like it at first doesn't mean I won't like it once I get use to it or better at it. Especially when it comes to fitness, if something is hard, we don't like it. When it becomes easier or we get good at it, we like it. I liked weights at first at the gym, until I started going up in weight, they got harder, now I hate them.. lol I think I would probably hate them even more if I was tested on them.. I hate tests

  9. I hate doing what terrifies me - hence, I either don't do a lot of things, or I think about doing them forever (e.g. swimming). Like you said, if you go or not, they are going to advance you because they think you're ready. Do you?

  10. I totally understand the fear. The key is not letting it stop you. Pushing past at least some of that fear is how you progress.

    Maybe think of the stick as something other than a weapon. Call it something like staff of power or some other dorky thing like that.

    Also - could you take the test on the next go around instead of Thursday to give yourself more time?

  11. I believe in doing what I fear (up to a point), but preparation is important. Also, sometimes there are good reasons for fearing something. I listen to my gut, as it has served me well in the past. Best to you...

  12. I don't know what the right answer is, but I do know that you will figure out what is right for you to do and when.

    Other than being scared spitless, what are the downsides of trying on Thursday?

  13. I understand that kind of fear. I hate to be the center of attention, can't stand for people to be focusing on me face to face. I just want to shrink right into a hole when that happens. It will send me into an anxiety attack!

    If you decide to go for it I am sure you will survive and come out the other side with a sense of pride! Easy for me to say.

  14. It seemed like what I heard in this post more than fear was 'I don't like it.' And yes, like someone in the comments said, after you spend some time doing something you can grow to like it. But if you still don't like it after a while...there's so many things in this world that I like/want to do that I still don't have time for, I don't really want to spend time doing something I don't like.

  15. You can do it Helen!!!!!!! I know its easy for me to say that, because I'm not walking in your shoes right now, but I can only imagine how good it'll feel once you've conquered it!!! All the best!!!!

  16. Since you have posted since, I already know the ending to this story (HURRAY!), but I wanted to say I know well the dread that looms over you when you are boxed into doing something you just don't like. I'm so amazed at how you keep barreling those kind of mental roadblocks!