What does it mean that we teach positive thinking?

Posted by on Jan 4, 2012 in Taekwondo Class Topics | Comments Off on What does it mean that we teach positive thinking?

Positive thinking is best explained as the absence of negative thinking.  Negative thoughts are any thoughts that make a person want to give up on their goals.

I, Master Marcy Shoberg, have not always been a positive thinker.  In fact, I once was quite a negative thinker.  I first realized the importance of positive thinking at a particular sparring training camp.

Sparring has never come naturally to me; but, I’ve always wanted to be good at it.  I think that’s why, over the last year, I’ve become so good at teaching people to spar:  I’ve discovered what concepts come easily to those who spar well and figured out how to teach them to others.

Anyway, at this training camp, I realized that my opponents were only thinking about how to score points on me while I was busy yelling at myself in my head. I’d have been better off to have my whole brain on the task of scoring instead of 1/2 of it wondering “why am I not better at this?”

Not long after that camp, I volunteered to go though Lucinda Bassett’s Attacking Anxiety program, in support of a friend with an anxiety disorder.  It turns out I had one, too, and didn’t know!   I had a problem with negative self talk.  My brain would naturally point out depressing and stressful things all of the time.

If you have a problem with negative thinking, you think you are just telling yourself the “truth.” Through the course, I learned to train my brain to talk about the silver linings instead of the clouds. It’s still the truth, but now it’s the part of the truth that makes it easy for me to focus on my goals instead of the part of the truth that makes me want to get back in bed.

Positive thinking is also important in self defense.  Any doubt about one’s ability to protect themselves may show on one’s face, actually making it more likely that they will be chosen as a victim of a predator and need to defend themselves.

In fact, when we practice woofing drills (the self defense exercises where a teacher wears glasses and pretends to be a bad guy) it’s important that we always let the student “win.” This is because if a person thinks they can defend themselves, they have a chance to be able to.  But, if a person thinks they are not good at self defense, no matter how good they really are, they have almost no chance of successfully defending themselves.

Positive thinking is vital in competitive sport, too.  To allow one’s self to be judged, whether it be in Taekwondo forms, sparring, or board breaking competition—or any other sport—requires confidence. And, a person who is focused on every little thing that goes wrong, doesn’t have much confidence.

A positive thinker who doesn’t win a particular competition, has a better chance to win the next one because they are excited to train for it and usually have at least one idea of how to improve their performance. A negative thinker, on the other hand, even when they win a competition, will have a harder time winning the next one.  Often, they can think of a reason that it was an accident that will never happen again, so why train hard for the next one? If they lose, they often decide to give up that sport entirely.

I’m not as sure of the best way to teach students to be positive thinkers as I am of the best ways to teach sparring, forms, and self defense.  But, I’ll never give up.  I’m sure it involves explaining it to their brains (like teaching our Gold Medal Attitudes), and giving them chances to practice it (like encouraging competition).

I also listen to what the students say and note the ones who are negative thinkers.  It’s the one’s who are quick to point out the faults of others, by the way. It’s also usually the one’s who are scared to compete and easily frustrated when something is difficult to learn.

For an adult with a negative thinking problem, I suggest you read From Panic to Power or The Power of Positive Thinking.

I ask all members of GMTKD to help me teach others positive thinking. Don’t point out the faults of yourself or others, unless you have an easy change to suggest.  Don’t talk about problems unless you are also talking about solutions. And, encourage anyone who is having a hard time learning something to believe they will succeed.