Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Knowing when your ego is in control

The ego is our identity as we perceive it. Within the ego, the mind, resides our self image. It consists of all the attributes we must live up to and the expectations that have been heaped upon us; like a crippling load callously strapped to a mule's  back. Even his strong hardy legs shake with the effort of supporting it.

Indeed we stumble through life learning who we are from other people, because we don't really have any idea. And by the same token we easily see who others are, and we tell them.

So our ego identity is constructed by other peoples interpretations of our actions....(oh youre the boxer, your the guy who reads, you must be very clever, you eat really healthy stuff, you must know a lot about diet, wow your muscles are huge, youre ace at playing poker, you have so many jokes....etc.... All assumptions and judgments, some born of admiration, others of jealousy others dislike...

And we are for some reason charged with the responsibility of its maintenance.... (oh i didn't expect that from you...youre not acting yourself recently.....what's gotten into you.....) It's like people are saying 'Oh no, Fred that's not how you behave. You behave like this.'

And they are saying this because they have spent time and effort to construct a Fred they know, the least you could do is continue to be him. Now they have to re-adjust, change the judgements, add more details, more information and people would rather have you in their little box that says 'Fred' and you are the perfect fit for that box. They don't like making new boxes or having to alter the shapes of their boxes... Nobody has time for that!

However the ego, or box, or self image, or *insert clever metaphor here* is a two way thing. You have to agree with it, or maintain it or be that mule supporting the load. So we act, speak and look in a certain way that we think we ought to. We don't know why we need to act in this way. Only that its who we are, its our identity.

We need first to remember that our identity is created primarily by our actions and then by how people interpret them. The duty of its maintenance does not exist; we only feel it as a need to conform to expectation.

So to bring this into k1 or combat sports in general, how do you know when your ego has inflated to the point of interfering with your training?

Usually this occurs in sparring sessions. My experience has been that it shows when I start to think I'm better than some folks at the gym. This is not the problem in and of itself. I am a more capable fighter than some of the guys there, the problem is when I have to start proving it. Either to myself, to the other guys themselves who I am supposedly better than, or to people watching.

At this point, I start taking shots, light, easy stuff to see coming but the misty vision of the ego mind obscures certain things. Why an I taking simple shots? I'm way better than Joe bloggs he should not be tagging me like this! More shots taken from rookies. I start to reason, everyone has their off days, you just need to chill, stop being so uptight. Not for a second do I consider their skills might be improving a little...

Back to more advanced partners, feeling annoyed at having made so many stupid mistakes with the rookies...
I up my game, begin landing my own shots and eventually see a big opening and take it, for a split second my ego has an orgasm as my shin lands on a good friend's head. He shakes it off because we're used to taking big bombs from each other. Then I just feel like a bum hole.

The hurting your sparring partners is an easy way to know that youre trying to prove something, there is no need for such intensity when sparring that your shots can cause injury.
The second way I find I'm ego-sparring is when I just get my arse kicked by every single partner. Rookies, usual partners, advanced guys, my coach. I catch myself coming from a place of worrying about their opinions of me.
Desperate not have them out-perform me or look down on me.

This is a weak place to come from in training. But it has happened a few times to me. I can not explain why, a mixture or pride and misguided self image mixed in with my arsehole side and boom, ego trip.

It is important therefore that when we find our ego has grabbed the steering wheel and we are not being authentic in our thoughts, words and actions that we get beaten up in sparring. Or loose badly against our rival football team, or get beaten at tennis by the new kid, or get submitted by the white belt at jiu-jitsu.

All these things deflate the ego and remind us of the strongest place to come from in our thoughts words and actions. Which is a willingness to learn.

If we are acting in a certain way to maintain our self image we know the ego is in control. But back when the self image was made, when people saw what you did and interpreted it in a certain way, who was behind the wheel then? What was their agenda?

That person had nothing to uphold and so the action was authentic. You're not playing to the crowd when you dance in the shower but when out in public the 'self image boxes' must be ticked

Common ones include....
Tough guy
Strong guy
Up for anything
Always drunk
Always sober
Loves drugs
Hates drugs

All of these are personality traits that we may have displayed on a single occasion. But once they are assigned to us by others they become, for no reason at all, a chore to keep as a part of who we are.

In training for any combat sport, do not allow your 'self' (ego) to think its better than any one, everyone has something to teach you, be willing to learn. (Then tomorrow, be unwilling to learn if the subject doesn't excite you ;).
Well done if you read all that