Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fight Like a Pro

I joined millions of others watching a professional boxing match earlier this month. When the bell sounded, neither fighter started pummeling each other until the other passed out. There is technique and there is order. What boxers know is that fighting is more than fancy footwork and landing punches. Fighting requires defense and time in the corner. If professional fighters know the importance of defense, rejuvenation, and encouragement during a boxing match, how much more important is it for us to defend ourselves and go to corners of support while we're in the middle of a fight?

Life is filled with experiences and circumstances that require us to fight. We have to fight for professional fulfillment, peace of mind, joy, and our relationships. Like professional fighters, we need to use effective tactics when engaging in a fight. When life presents opposition and challenges we are forced to stand up and prepare ourselves for a mental and emotional struggle. The bell could sound with a phone call delivering difficult news, a doctor visit, a relationship deteriorating, a job loss, financial strain, or an emotional trigger from a past trauma. In either case, it's beneficial for us to develop tactics and strategies to ensure successful outcomes.

Fighting is as much about defense as offense. We have to engage in specific behaviors in order to prevent our opponents—depression, low self-esteem, addictive behaviors, negative relationships, and self-destruction—from hitting us. We need to block negative comments, people who make us feel diminished, and emotional triggers.

There's a television series that I love, but because of the close connection to my personal history there are times when I would identify too closely with the characters or events. Suddenly, entertainment turned into emotional struggle. In order to prevent myself from being hit by an emotional trigger, I decided to stop tuning in. While I didn't have an emotional reaction every time I watched the show, it wasn't worth risking the chance that I would. I chose to defend myself from the possibility of being negatively impacted by selecting an alternative way to spend that hour each week.

In boxing, when the whistle blows signaling the end of a round both fighters go to their respective corners for some time with their coach. This brings up another important lesson; when faced with difficulty, we need to go to our support system. We need to have the wisdom to sit in the company of those who encourage us and refresh us. I found myself in need of a corner break very recently. I needed a serious time out. I was emotionally exhausted and felt like I'd taken hit after hit. The whistle had blown, but I stayed in the ring entirely too long by myself. I needed to sit under the care and concern of my support system. It was amazing how much better I felt after taking a time out and sitting in the corner with my sources of support.

We all have a fight. Yours could be depression, grief, a health challenge, financial concerns, relationship issues, or a trauma. Your fight will require certain tactics at specific times. The key is learning when to throw punches, when to take cover, and when to seek rejuvenation and encouragement. All are equally important and necessary. Follow the example of professional fighters and you can avoid feeling like life is repeatedly knocking you out.

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