Boxing Breakdown

Last night I attended a mitt class for only the second time in the two years I’ve been going to this gym. I was having a really difficult time remembering combinations/how to turn my body to block and deflect punches. I felt embarrassed, stupid, and incapable. I felt sorry for my partner for having to deal with my slow brain. I kept apologizing to her and then judged myself for both judging myself so harshly and also for the way I was talking about myself to her. I wanted to give up and cry. I could not believe the ridiculous script of negative self-talk that was going through my head and was more frustrated that I was judging myself so harshly than the fact that I was struggling so much with the movements.

I’ve always been naturally athletic and have picked up on most sports and athletic activities quickly. I remember having a conversation with someone who was telling me I should stick with track and field because I wasn’t immediately good at it. That they “always had to work hard to be any good” and that I’m lucky that most things come so easily to me. I argued why should I work hard to be average at something when there are plenty of other things I’m really good at without trying very hard? I still tend to believe that I have plenty of things I’m good at to stick with, but I wonder what’s behind this whole scenario for me. I did some thinking about times I’ve felt this way because I think there might be more of a pattern than I’m willing to admit.

  • I joined gymnastics as a young child and quit after a coach scolded me for “daydreaming” while the class was doing cartwheels.
  • I joined track and field in middle school after we did one day of track and field where I earned a medal in all of the events that I participated in. I made it to my first meet and then promptly quit when I didn’t win. It didn’t help that I didn’t really like running.
  • When I was younger I did some downhill skiing. Once someone talked me into trying snowboarding. I couldn’t stay up and never tried it again.
  • When I was in high school I was pulled up to the Varsity softball team as a sophomore, but as an outfielder and not a pitcher (I put a lot of effort into being a pitcher and wanted to keep pitching so I was disappointed). I had dreams of playing college softball but after a rough junior year and being criticized for not catching a catchable fly ball, I gave up on that. I took some classes at a local university my senior year and scheduled a class during practice time so I couldn’t play. I don’t think I realized I was self-sabotaging at the time but looking back I totally did that so I didn’t have to “quit.”  
  • When I played roller derby I quickly became a standout skater and would get awards at the annual awards banquets. One year I didn’t get any awards and I was disappointed because I expected myself to perform at a high level and I hadn’t met my own expectations.
  • When I made Team USA I was proud of myself for achieving that goal, but when I found out I was only going to be an alternate (skating in the USA Stars vs. Stripes game, but not against any international competitors) I was devastated. I didn’t know how to be an alternate. I didn’t know how to be a supportive teammate without getting any play time. I’d like to think that experience helped me be a better captain because I could actually say that I DID understand how the alternates felt. Unfortunately it didn’t make telling people they had to sit any easier and that was definitely not a strength of mine. Thank you to the skaters who had the courage to talk to me about the way I delivered the information. It was painful for all of us but it was nice to get a different perspective and some ideas for minimizing hurt in the future.
  • I tried T’ai Chi once several months ago but only lasted one session. I’d like to think this one was more due to convenience and lack of commitment, but looking back I wonder if it has anything to do with my fear of inadequacy?

Whoa. Way more things came to mind as I started writing than I initially thought I’d list. I have this cool “wheel of needs” that I love to reference when I’m having strong feelings about something. I think the needs behind these examples are a sense of belonging, acknowledgement/ appreciation, competence, control, and competition. I’m so glad I don’t value competition as much as I did when I was younger. It’s interesting to me that in most of these situations I got the most upset from my own ridiculous expectations of myself than anything else. I thought I had worked through my perfectionist tendencies. I wonder if I need to push myself outside of my comfort zone and pick an activity that I’m not great at to work on just to work through some of this. Remind myself that nothing bad is going to happen if I’m not good at something.

In an audiobook I’m listening to they were just talking about how everything we do in life is either to seek pleasure or avoid pain and that all experiences are coded in our brains as positive, negative, or neutral. The negative ones are the most memorable because from an evolutionary perspective we need to avoid things that are dangerous as a method for survival. Unfortunately our brain can’t distinguish physical danger from emotional danger.

Yoga has helped me so much with not comparing myself to others (or to myself!) and just accepting where I’m at on any given day. After a couple of meditations recently it has been really clear to me that I need more regular yoga in my life. I had a period of time after I got divorced where I was doing yoga every evening by candlelight at home and it did so much for me and my mental health. I’m not really sure what’s been getting in the way for me lately. I’m always finding excuses. But I KNOW I feel better when I practice more often.

I don’t have much of a point to this post really. Sometimes it just helps me to write out what I’m thinking. I just want people to know that they are likely their own worst critic and that we are all human. Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing the best you can.