How to use mental Judo to tackle scary challenges

We went and supported some friend’s kids at the regional championships last weekend. Never been to watch judo before.  Fascinating.

Some of the kids are really little. I mean really little. And you get to know how just small they are as all their weights are announced.  They fight in 4KG weight categories apart from the Open competition where anyone can fight anyone, whatever the weight, as long as they fit the age range.

It was the Open category fights that were the most fascinating. Much of the time it went with ‘she who is biggest, wins’. Of course it did. You see a much bigger girl come out, and you just know it’s going to be one way traffic. But, not every time. We saw a tiny 26KG girl (twenty six!) take down a 50KG girl! Amazing. And not just the once. This happened quite a few times. With some cunning throws executed in a split second the unexpected happens, and BAM the big girl is down!

I asked one of the littlies, Juliet what her secret was to throwing girls much bigger and heavier than her. “It’s all about my balance. I have to look after my own balance, and then I just look for her weak point.  As soon as I see it I have to commit and go for it”. Don’t you get scared I asked? “No!” she said laughing “I know how to break my fall, and so I can just get up again or there is always another day”.

Wise little one. Very wise.

I think there is a huge parallel that we adults can draw from this attitude. I know there have been times in my life where there have been obstacles that have seemed so big I have procrastinated and procrastinated about how to tackle them. I see clients stuck in jobs that suck their soul but the way out or through seems just too scary or too daunting. “Where else will I get a job in this market?” “ It’s just not possible I could do something I love and get paid” and so on. They become paralysed from taking action because the challenge seems just too big.  We can stay stuck in a job, relationship, place because it seems too big and scary to handle.

Here’s how to do a judo throw in real life:

1..Identify a challenge that in some way feels “bigger than you”. Something you have been avoiding. Procrastinating about. Scared of tackling.

2. Get balanced. Take care of your own balance first. Everything in life feels easier to accomplish when we feel fit, healthy and alert. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Eating well. Moving your body in an exercise that pleases you. Get your foundation sorted first.

3. Take action from your place of balance. Look for a throw, something smart. Something that will give you momentum and keep you moving forwards. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does mean positive action from your place of balance.

4. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, as the cliché goes. Break it down. Chip away at it but keep taking positive action forwards. It was interesting in the judo, some of the kids got penalized for “not fighting”, so only using defensive moves. They could not score any points at all for good defense. They had to be seen to be making positive choices to attack if they were to score any points at all. This keeps them committed to positive action.

5. Don’t be scared. Sometimes it’s very easy to get so scared by the enormity of a challenge in our life that we do nothing. A good question to ask is “What’s really the worst that can happen here?” Maybe it’s “I set up my own business and it fails”. Okay, so if that happened you’d go get another job right? That’s the worst that could happen. You’d go back to a job exactly like the one you have now. You would deal with it. So dig into this fear, see what is the worst that can happen, and know that you will cope with that think just like you have coped with every other thing life has brought you. You make wise choices, you put in contingency plans, you ask for support. In short you see how you can break your fall, should you need it. Then you take positive action anyway.

The other think that really struck me about the judo was that, however badly someone got beaten, they would both stand and respectfully bow at at other at the end of the bout. I liked that a lot. I know when I look at my life that the biggest challenges I have faced, and that may have been kicking my ass at the time, are actually the circumstances in life that have taught me the most. There is a value in that which deserves some respect. We often find (from the comfort of retrospect) that life has sent us EXACTLY the challenge we need to learn something we really need to learn. Facing that challenge, however large it may be, is part of our path.

For example suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was beyond hideous, and recovery the most enormous challenge. But I can now give a respectful nod to that chapter of my life as I learned so much. Do I want to go through it again? Hell to the No. However, I can respect that lesson I needed to learn, about creating balance, and living it. It’s the foundation on which my life is now built. I was meant to fight that fight.

Let me know about one challenge in life you could apply this principle to, taking action from a place of balance. I always love to hear your comments!

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