Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Become familiar with discomfort.

My second professional fight had me at the headline of a renowned show in Norwich. It wasn't the first time I'd been the headline fight. Though it was the first time I'd done so as a professional. A handful of years back I was fighting on this show as one of many amateur fighters, who stayed till the end to watch the headline pro bout. Now I was that headline pro bout. What's more, I would contend for the WKO English title.

As I gain more experience, the pre-fight nerves are expected. We anticipate them. The feeling of tiredness, both physical and mental that washes over your being as you warm up; a feeling of things not being quite right; a desire to curl into a ball and hide untill it's all over with. Constantly questioning if you're ready, if you've done enough, if you've turned every stone in preparation.

Your punches feel odd, not like they do in the gym. Not as snappy, a little less sharp than usual. There remains in the background, a dizzying sense that people have bought tickets, traveled and waited all night for your moment under the lights. 
All the while you sit in the eye of this psychological storm. Calmly reminding yourself "I've done the work".

It becomes a mantra. We return to it in the face of doubt; "I've done the work".

It's our secret weapon to settle the racing mind; "I've done the work".

We don't rise to any occasion, only sink to the level of training.

Now that we expect the pre fight nerves and associated feelings, we can point to it and laugh. We jovially acknowledge them: "feeling shit yet?"

The underlying idea behind this is that I can't control how my physiology is reacting to all the anticipation and stress of performing. So I might as well embrace and greet the feelings with positivity or light heartedness. The other option is to fight your self in the back before the actual fight. Many fighters have defeated themselves before they got in the ring!

I am learning my mind. Every fighter undoubtedly feels slightly different in the hours leading up to a fight. Consequently I feel there is no solution or technique of thinking that can be of help to eveyone. No specific mental buttons we can all press to help the doubt and fear subside.

However, a principal we might all benefit from investigating is the idea of knowing ourselves and learning how we as individuals respond to stress; how we best deal with fear and discomfort.

Practice being uncomfortable. Practice adapting to stressful situations.

Make fear, discomfort and stress familiar.
And eventually they will lose their power over you.

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