What are our routines?
The word itself is related to “route,” meaning our routines are the routes we take through our habitual cycles.
Humans are creatures of routine. I remember in college, when we had no assigned seating, that my fellow students and I all generally sat in the same seat each day. It was our routine. And we typically think of our routines as the simple behaviors we do, day in and day out, to help us complete the tasks we face on a regular basis.
But there are other routines as well: mental routines and emotional routines.
When you get tapped out in jiu-jitsu, what emotional routine do you follow? Do you get frustrated? Happy? Sad? Do you feel nothing and just continue?
Our physical routines are easy to map out and identify. But our mental and emotional routines operate often outside of what we feel is our control. They can be reflexive.
And that’s why they are so powerful. They shape the way we see the world.
As a martial artist, we are waging a war on two fronts. The obvious one is that we are strengthening ourselves against our opponents, perceived or real. The less obvious one is that we are strengthening ourselves against our self–and this inner battle is by far the more challenging one.
So it’s important to take a moment and objectively map the mental and emotional routes you take when times get tough. Do you feel an excitement of stepping up to the challenge? Anxiety at the possibility of failure? Fear of change? And where do these thoughts lead you?
Do they perpetuate a cycle that keeps you stagnant, or do they steer you to activities and a mindset that allows you to grow?
I truly believe that most martial artists, who want to get to a “professional level” (whether through competition or just training alone), will never make it if they don’t understand their own routines and also have the ability to re-route them.
Generally speaking–the person who will hold us back the most is ourselves. Understanding the how, and the why, is one of the most powerful things we can do.