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October 26, 2015

HANDLING STRESS – AT ANY AGE

Continuing with the theme regarding Stress, I would like to share something closer to home. Last week my son was competing in the biggest Jiu Jitsu Tournament in Australia, the Power Pi Pan Pacific Championship 2015.

So, we flew to Melbourne last Friday for his fight that was to take place on Saturday morning. Obviously he was going there for a purpose, which was to win the title. Now, stress can have many masks which many people struggle to understand and therefore seem to suffer a lack of control in their lives.

Over dinner he told me that he couldn’t eat, in fact he thought he was going to be sick. What he was displaying was anxiety about the fight the next day; I could tell how badly he wanted to win it. This anxiety was so powerful, he soon became a nervous wreck. Seeing him across the table in this state I was obviously worried as his parent. Saying things to him like "get tough, don’t act weak" weren’t the kind of statements that were going to help either. What I needed to do was help him to deal with this emotion. So I asked him how his preparation had been so far (i.e. bring him back to the present as his anxiety was in the future). He said it was pretty good, that he had been training hard for the past 3 weeks and was in good shape, physically and emotionally, for this tournament.

We have all been told many times: "get in the present". The unfortunate thing is, not many people really know why you need to get in the present. One of the reasons is we become anxious when we think about something we want in the future.

Once he started to think about the present, his body language changed; his anxiousness slowly left him and he started to look forward to tomorrow with anticipation. He ate his meal and slept well and when he woke up, he felt neutral, calm; he felt he had a "good form of nerves" (as he said) about the tournament. The lesson to learn here is, there is always going to be some stress or anxiety about something you want badly but it is how you manage this that counts.

I am happy to say as a very proud parent, he won the Pan Pac title, beat a green belt and earned his medal.
A good way to explain this is through the many cooking programs on TV, where the expert cooks can taste a dish and virtually tell you what ingredient is missing. Emotions are various ingredients that a person needs to understand; it’s not enough to say "I feel happy". What is the emotion you are feeling with this happiness? What is the emotion that may be missing?

You need to understand the thinking and techniques to change an ineffective emotion to another emotion that is going to get you the result you are after. Many times you can’t wait for the situation to change and hope that the next day will be different.