It starts inside our head. Sometimes it whispers, sometimes it shouts. Call it what you want; the “inner opponent,” “the internal critic,” “the saboteur,” the voice speaks and unless we are careful, we listen. The voice scolds us with such things as, “Who do you think you are?” -- “You’re not smart enough to accomplish that” -- or “You’re too old.” And if we pay attention to what it says, we often end up stopping what we are doing or deciding not to even start something.
How many people today are intercepting or “stop-hitting” their own potentials, dreams, vision, etc., shutting them down and preventing them from becoming a reality? How many people, as the adage says, “go to their graves with their best song still in their heart.”
Why do we do it? Why do people “stop-hit” themselves? Why do they shoot themselves in the foot, so to speak? There are numerous reasons, but the prime reason is fear of failing. Fear of failure is the major killer of great plans. Most of us learn (or are taught by others) early in life that failure is bad or negative, and therefore something to be avoided at all costs. As a result, we become uncomfortable with the idea of failure. We learn to hide our failures, make excuses for them, and in some cases even deny their existence. Some people begin to stop taking risks. They become more cautious about taking chances due to the possibility of failing. They start to limit the choices they make and tend to stick with only those things they know they can do well or are sure they will succeed at. Fear of failure becomes a “lens of conditioning” that filters how they perceive certain things. This lens narrows their vision narrows and shrinks their horizon.
How can we stop “shooting ourselves in the foot?” How can we stop “stop-hitting” ourselves? The following ideas can help:
Be aware -- As with countering a physical attack, awareness is a crucial factor, because the longer you wait, the harder it will be to shut it down. By developing your ability to recognize negative thoughts and negative self-talk as soon as they start, you can challenge the utility of them by asking yourself such questions as: Is this thought helping me or hurting me? Is this thought motivating me to action and moving me closer to where I want to go, or is it blocking me with fear and self-doubt? Is it helping me to perform efficiently and productively?
Know yourself -- Are you really secure within yourself? Do you have any doubts about yourself and/or your abilities? If you don’t have any such doubts, fine. If you do, they need to be addressed and removed or corrected.
Understand the intention of an attack -- The goal of an attack that comes from within ourselves (fear, self-doubt, worry, etc.) is the same as that of an external attack used against us by an actual opponent; it is to attempt to throw us off-balance, damage us in some way, put us on the defensive, and get us to question ourselves and our abilities.
Don’t give the opponent what they need to work against you -- If you understand what it is physical opponent needs to work against you, then you can choose not to give it to them. The same goes for dealing with an internal attack.
Remember that you are in control of the way you feel, and you are in control of your thought processes. You have the power over your state of mind, so pay close attention to and control your thinking.
Dealing with external opponents is one thing. Dealing with inner opponents such as our own self-limiting concepts, unfounded personal doubts, fear of failure, etc., is another matter. Oftentimes we discover that the biggest adversary we face in our life is ourselves. If we want to actualize our potentials, be it in martial art or anything in life, we need to make sure that we don’t stop-hit ourselves along the way. Make sure you’re not “shooting yourself in the foot.”