My previous post about the similarities between BJJ and therapy really got me thinking and I have been pondering it for a while. Since BJJ is a lifestyle, no wonder it pervades my thinking in the other aspects of my life! After all it not only affects how you eat and how you exercise, but also how you view what you do for a living.
I am a licensed psychotherapist. I have been in the clinical field since 1991 and have worked in corrections/probation/parole, child welfare, group homes, psychiatric hospitals, and outpatient clinics. It is a highly draining and highly rewarding field. Much like my feelings that I didn't pick BJJ, BJJ picked me. It is also true that the field of therapy picked me, I certainly didn't pick it. BJJ has not only given me the tools to combat stress and burnout in my profession, but I also sincerely believe that it, along with my Faith system, given me the abilities to become a better therapist. Here are some of the lessons that I have learned from these endeavors:
1. Remain Calm; Don't Panic: The keys to being a good therapist and patient lie here. Throughout any crisis, our reactions to it usually create more stress. When I am trapped under side control, my struggles usually only cause more problems. The first key is to relax.
2. Basics first, fancy later: There is a reason God gave us 2 ears versus 1 mouth. We need to listen twice as much as we speak. Crawl, then walk, then run. Shrimp bridge, elbow escape first, berimbolo and deep half guard later.
3. Find a position to survive and wait for the right opportunity to escape or improve position. Usually the first step to beating a problem is admitting that you have it, after that it is working within the confines of the situation to find a way out. It works not only with escaping back control, but domestic violence and drug abuse, too.
4. Position before control, Control before submission: Getting a job can be tough, especially when you have baggage, but personal improvement demands that you begin with the initial tasks and you can only progress after you have mastered the fundamentals.
5. There is no losing, only learning. Every time I have tapped, I learned. Likewise we often teach patients and clients that failures are learning opportunities that without them would only serve to limit their sense of self and accomplishment.
6. Submissions are rare; Escapes are golden. Not every match or sparring session I have participated in resulted in me getting a submission, or me being submitted, but every match I have been in has been an opportunity for me to improve my skill and learn as an athlete. Only few can get good at submission, but everybody can get good at escape.
7. There is ALWAYS an opportunity to improve position. If I can get a client to adopt the never say quit attitude, I am looking at a successful outcome.
8. It all starts with posture. The first position that we adopt, in life or in bjj, can often determine the outcome. The cool thing is, you can always change posture. It is a tough road to learn, but it can be done.
9. Posture creates pressure, pressure creates possibilities: This is the Cane Prevost 3 P model and it not only works in side mount or in guard, but also with issues of self-image or anxiety and depression.
10. Better position gives you better perspective: Fairly self explanatory, but if I can create an opprotunity to improve my position (in bottom half guard or say in a troubled marriage or disappointing job), I can appreciate a better perspective and also have a better opportunity to improve.
11. Success is often just showing up.
12. It is good to get help from the team, but on the mats or in life, it all comes down to you.
I hope you enjoyed my view.
Have a great day and stay happy!