“When you have self-esteem, everything you do ends up in a good end”. – Richard Bach
Self-esteem is the way we feel about ourselves. It’s an aspect of our personality that guides our actions and determines our behaviour. When it comes to the martial arts, self-esteem is crucial for success. And I’m not referring to your success in actual combat, although this of course takes into consideration all martial arts.
So what does self-esteem mean? In the simplest terms, it’s our internal picture of ourselves. It’s our inner belief about our strengths and weaknesses, and where we stand in life. In some cases, self-esteem is what gets us through the tough times. But self-esteem can also be a problem. The root cause of most problems of all is self-esteem.
In some cultures, low self esteem is almost a requirement. In the United States however, it’s usually considered a personal failing. In my view, if you set yourself up to always do things right, treat others the way you want to be treated, and never take no for an answer, you’ll be much more successful. That’s basically the way I look at it. When you do these three things, your self esteem will grow.
One easy way to improve self-esteem in BJJ is to set realistic goals. Focus on the outcome you’d like, rather than what you “should” be doing. If your training partner is giving you problems, try to find out what it is that is causing it. You should be able to identify the cause, and fix it.
When I was in school, our teacher used to say to us, “if you want to get anywhere in this class, you have to raise your hand”. He was absolutely right. Try to raise your skill level as quickly as possible. Don’t be afraid to give constructive feedback – teachers are usually happy to receive it. If you can help someone else, even better. The self esteem benefit is double for teachers.
Another strategy is to take short, meaningful steps. People respond better to tangible results. If you notice that someone else is moving faster forward than you are, you should pick up the pace yourself. It will show to your audience – and yourself – that you are making an effort.
Lastly, you need to know how to let go of the past. Self esteem and Jiu Jitsu exist inextricably linked. If you keep thinking about your past failures, you will sabotage your future progress. Let go of the past and move forward.
This might sound cliche, but it’s actually very true. If you get caught up in the “I can do this” approach, you will almost always reach a point where you doubt your own ability. If you keep telling yourself, “You are not good enough. “, you are limiting yourself.
Accept the challenge that life has to offer. If you are too fearful to step out and try something new, you limit your own growth. Step out and challenge yourself by doing something that you dread – like driving somewhere. Do it anyway. You will improve your self-esteem dramatically. Your fear will melt away.
Get a hobby. Learn something you are passionate about. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Just pick something that you love – even if you don’t think that it is cool. Whatever you focus on improves your self-esteem. If you hate something – get rid of it!
Stop comparing yourself to others. You are unique and you know it. Stop comparing yourself with others, because you will never be able to measure up to them. Stop focusing on who you think you can be versus who you are.
Have confidence in yourself. Start having confidence in yourself – right now. Be happy with who you are and what you have – don’t worry about trying to be someone that you are not. The only person you are going to be able to be for yourself is yourself.