We all have weaknesses, and trigger points within our psyche that bring forth a strong emotional reaction. This reaction changes our focus from the task at hand to our sensations. We feel our faces turn red, our body may start to shake, our breathing quickens, and each change makes us uncomfortable as it isn’t how we want to feel. These changes can happen with embarrassment, anger, or fear, but regardless as to what triggers it, our minds become preoccupied with the emotion, and we start making decisions to relieve ourselves of this state of being. We will yell, cringe, hold our breaths, remove ourselves from that situation, etc. Our blood pressure rises quickly at this point. We are told that expressing our emotions will help these reactions be relieved, but this isn’t necessarilly true. One’s distress can become worse especially if our own reaction is evoking more personal feelings of guilt and shame, or the response of others to our behaviour is critical of our actions, and/or feeds off of our negative emotions to escalate the situation even higher.
Suppressing the emotions isn’t good either as it involves the energy of the mind to do so, and actually affects our physiological system. I have personally felt this more than once in my life where I suppressed emotion. The stress tightens the muscles around my eyes which reduces the automatic eye movements that allow my eyes to focus, and my vision blurs. How many people have felt dizziness, stomach aches, nausea, sharp cramps, etc from mentally forcing down intensely stressful emotions? This is the result of such activity.
A Martial Artist needs to learn how to defend him/herself from that inner psychological stress that builds up when faced with confrontational situations. These negative emotions can occur at any time, any place, and with anybody including your close family and friends. In fact, one might find that their closest relationships can cause them the most daily stress in their lives as we have higher expectations from them.
We are in more danger from daily stress, and stress related problems than from the random attack that we may meet walking down the street. In my next installment, I would like to address the psychology of our Martial Arts training, and how it provides opportunities to improve our mental stability/control, and gives us techniques to handling such problems with stress.
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