Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Confidence

I am changing as a person. The change is coming slowly, but it is still happening. They say it takes 21 days to effectively change a habit, but for me it has taken much longer. For years, I've struggled with insecurity over what other people think of me.
Some stuff happened back in late high school and early college that really shook my confidence. Don't want to go into a lot of detail here, but suffice to say someone in authority over me took advantage of their position.

I got into the habit of needing other people to validate that I was ok. That I was doing the right thing. That everything was fine. But in the last two years, two things have forced me to face these insecurities and overcome them. The first thing is my job as a youth pastor and the second has been Jiu-jitsu.

I will give you a clear picture of how BJJ has helped me overcome some of th crippling and irrational thinking I was stuck in for so long. When I started BJJ, I craved approval from people in authority--like my instructors Ben and Fabio. If they told me I was doing well, I was over the moon. But if I thought they were less than thrilled with my performance, I would feel horrible about myself. If they ever happened to actually say anything negative, it would crush me.

I know this is stupid. Trust me, as a youth pastor, I have counseled dozens of girls on this sort of thing. But even knowing this desire for approval is irrational and unhealthy, I still struggled with it. It was kind of like my brain was arguing with my feelings all the time. Sometimes my brain won. Other times my feelings won.

Lately, God has really been helping me win the battle of my thoughts vs. emotions. I have been meditating a lot on encouraging scriptures. Now, I am finally getting to the point where my brain is winning out over my feelings more often. Point in case:

Yesterday I grappled Fabio. I felt good during the grapple, like I was moving ok. Obviously, he was letting me work. But I felt like I was giving it my best. After the grapple, he didn't say anything. Nothing negative or positive. He looked tired and it was the end of class and he was rubbing his neck a lot. I started to wonder if I had been muscly while we grappled. Had I cracked his neck at some point? Then I wondered if he might be annoyed or mad at me.

Anyone who struggles with the same stuff I do will know that, from there, I started interpreting everything from body language to the things he said as him being upset at me. There was no rational foundation for it. Just my fears.

So I took a deep breath and told myself to stop it. I thought for a second about the grapple. I couldn't remember doing anything jerk-ish. So I forced myself to think,"You didn't do anything wrong. There is no reason for anyone to be mad at you."

I still had the lurking worry that Fabio might be mad at me. But I forced myself to ignore it and did the cool down stretches and talked to people and tried to put it out of my mind.

After class was over, Fabio was rubbing his neck again. So I asked if he was hurt. Turns out it was his shoulder bothering him. He injured it a long time ago as a blue belt and the moves we drilled that day and the day before had been aggravating it.

There you go. It wasn't me after all. There had been absolutely no reason for me to worry.

It might seem to you like this was no victory. But for me, it was. I still had those insecure thoughts. But I was able to reason them away and put them aside. That is a step in the right direction.

BJJ and my job have both been forcing me to learn to look at myself with more grace. I am not perfect. Sometimes I will make mistakes. But I can't live my life fearing mistakes and fearing other people. When I am worried about a situation, I have to look at it and ask myself: Have I done anything wrong here? If I haven't, then I can let it go, knowing that if someone is upset at me, it is their problem, not mine.

That ability to let go is giving me so much more peace. Thanks, BJJ and work stress. Together, your constant challenges have forced me to face myself and grow stronger.

3 comments:

  1. Allie, I admire the way you lay it down without the bells and whistles in your writing. The children in your youth group are fortunate to have your grounded mind in their life. You sound like you are truly passionate about shining a great light and living your life so as to set an example of excellence and strength.

    Irrational thoughts based on absolutely nothing. "Demons" I like to call them. Been there and done that. I use the visual of putting the demon back in the box, from whence it came. Good for you for being honest with yourself in this process.

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  2. I appreciate this post. It seems to me that women do this a lot or I just don't know any guys that think like this (at least out loud). But a lot of women I know can create this self-doubting, excessive body-language reading/interpreting, internal negative dialogue. I see the victory here; good job!!

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