Imagine you are walking down a path that symbolises your journey in life. As you walk, you come to a fork in the road. You must now make a choice about which path to take. Both offer opportunities, and both will shape you in different ways. Through one path, you know you can use your experience and skills. By taking this path, you can roughly anticipate what this would mean for your journey ahead. The other path is fuzzier. It requires you to push past your comfort zone. If you chose this path, you may not clearly know what lies ahead, but you do know there’s a higher risk and higher chance for reward.
Which path would you choose?
Which path are you currently on?
I feel many of us desire to be the more courageous version of ourselves. It’s the ideal. However, our reality may not truly be a reflection of this. For a lot of people, fear stops us from pushing past our comfort zone as often as we potentially could. It stops us in our tracks from wanting to do something, and even when we attempt to act– to give up sooner than we possibly should.
Being afraid of doing something new or different is often led by deep emotions within, which may not always be rational. However, we often don’t think it through and explore why. That’s understandable. To an extent, our general aversion has been influenced by society and biology: we want to feel safe, secure, and accepted by our peers. Of course there are some who muster up the courage time and time again because it is liberating to try and push the boundaries of what we think is possible. I very much respect these people – especially how they use the experience positively when they are unsuccessful from their attempt.
For those looking to get different results, we need to do things differently to what we have done before. We need courage. I’ve been musing with the idea of how martial arts training provides us with a great environment to hone our courage, through taking us down the fuzzier path.
Let’s explore this thought.
When we enter the dojang for the very first time as white belts, we take that first step by showing courage. It is the courage to learn something new. Yes, we may be nervous and self-conscious of what others may think as we try moves we hadn’t before – but we do still get out of our comfort zone and try.
During our training, it’s rare for anyone to be able to execute the technique well in their early attempts. In other words, it’s the patience and practice that we put in that delivers the level of our current abilities. As we practice, we will fail often. Many times, others will see it. However, each time we fall we will get back up and try again. Each time we miss the target, we will become even more determined to hit it the next time. You see, it’s keeping sight of the main goal that pushes us through.
Over time, we start to become less self-conscious about being judged. Maybe this is the slow process of decreasing one’s ego and to become more selfless. It’s as if when we’re on the mat, we’re all there to learn. In order to learn, we’ll need to be corrected. Being corrected only arises when we are incorrect. In short, as practitioners, we embrace our failings as opportunities to learn.
General reflections to life’s journey.
Reflecting this with other aspects in our lives, why is it that many of us still hold ourselves back from the fear of being wrong or even failing in some way? We show our perseverance on the mat, so what makes the difference beyond it?
The answers to these questions are not straightforward. However, thinking about them will certainly help us to understand more about ourselves and present the opportunity to uncover our reasons behind why we stop ourselves from working towards our goals. It may even help boost our courage to take that much needed step outside the comfort zone.