Ouch! Was that Supposed to Hurt?

By: Lauren E. Fast

The best teacher we can have in life is experience. Even if you are intelligent, the emotional component plays a big role. Sometimes we are held back by warning and admonitions by other people, especially our parents. "Donít run with scissors. Youíll hurt someone!" "Donít put that in your mouth! Itís filthy and youíll choke!" "No, you canít fly like Superman! Get down from there! Youíll hurt yourself!" With these lessons, sometimes the fears of others seep into our unconscious, which are sometimes absolutely ludicrous! People can be too cautious and worry about every last little thing that they are missing the big picture. Their fears are holding them back.

When the Film Jaws first came out, everyone adapted a sudden fear of sharks. People wouldnít swim, in fear that a shark was going to eat them. Contrast to popular belief, every shark attack on a human is an accident. The shark mistakes the human for itís normal prey. Still, with this in mind, you may find, even yourself, will become wary when sticking your feet into salt water, possibly even freshwater for that matter. It is the visual images that stick in our minds where, when we think of a shark, our automatic response is that they kill.

I hit a milestone in karate a few weeks ago. I caught myself flinching every time someone would throw a punch at me. I could tell you Iím not afraid of getting hit in the face, but in a way, that would be a lie. Unconsciously I am afraid of getting hit in the face. That little flinch is what was stopping me from improving my fighting skills. So this is what I did. I made myself force my eyes open while my opponent threw different punching combinations at me. In doing this, I was able to see the punches coming. Thus I could block more of them, which in turn sped up my reaction time. Sounds easy? Think again. It took me a long time to get to that point. For being just a drill one would think maybe itís because I donít trust my opponent. On the contrary, it is caused by all the violent pictures I have been subjected to over the years. It is in television, in movies, and in video games where we are taught that a punch equals pain. Well, most of the time it does. That doesnít mean that one should cower away immediately. It is actually worse to look away from that "scary" punch.

Media has its advantages and disadvantages. First off, it teaches us that certain things are harmful. We become more careful of ourselves and wary of our surroundings. Televisionís downfall are its cartoons where While E. Coyote, for example, will hurl himself off a cliff during a hot pursuit for the roadrunner and he will end up squashed on the ground only to crawl away, still alive. This is where kids might become confused and decide to catapult "Fluffy" out the window to see if he can land on all fours. I think we are too afraid of the outcome, in most cases, that that is all we focus on. If we put all of our efforts, attention, and focus on the "situation" at hand, then we would be better off instead of hiding in a corner of our mind.

People like to use the words "I canít" quite often. The fact is we donít even want to try!

We are either:

  1. too lazy to do anything worthwhile with ourselves
  2. introverts; people who donít like change
  3. afraid of failure

Type "c" people are usually the ones who are too stubborn and donít like to admit that they are weak in a certain area. Take stretching, for example. Not many people can do the splits. Heck! I couldnít for a while there - or I thought I couldnít! One night, while stretching during karate, my Sensei and I made a bet to see who could go all the way down in the splits before the year was up. This motivated me to actually try. I changed it over in my mind that the pain I was feeling was good pain. I did this so I could stretch further instead of stopping at the first sign of any painful sensation. With this mind set, you have to know how far to take it; you have to know your body. You could do a lot of damage by stretching too far. Breathing properly and remaining focused will get you further. Sad thing is that most people need a goal in order to go any further than what is absolutely necessary or required of them. I havenít yet been able to go all the way down to the ground, but Iím almost there! I know this because I can.

If someone were to rattle off the "rules" and "truths" in life, only a couple of those would really sink into our minds. It holds true in many ways, however, that a personal experience is far more lasting. It is also all in the attitude and way of perceiving things. So get your feet wet, jump in that water with your eyes open. Who knows what you might be missing!

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