June 23, 2013
molly published this at 3:00 am
Earlier in this series, I made reference to times when you may be rocked back on your heels (figuratively speaking). This week, I experienced one of those times. It was a psychological blow, made more damaging because it came from someone and someplace unexpected.
But that’s okay. It’s part of the ebb and flow of the dynamism of life. However, it got me to thinking in tangents, which lead to boxing analogies. Sucker punches are direct hits that are unexpected. However, I think that if we maintain a mindset of the conditioning¯ of a boxer, we can absorb, redirect and process the fallout from taking a punch. We can use the energy (and subsequent lesson) to make us stronger and better.
The other thing about boxers? Unlike many other sports, there really is no team in “I,” per se. The boxer IS the team, for all practical purposes. His (or her) sinew, brain and acuity are the resources in the ring and it is from his or her own reserves that the desire to win comes. While pugilism is a savage ballet, it is also a test of reflexes, endurance and sheer will. These are all qualities of independent people.
How does one figuratively take a punch and live to see another day in the ring? While researching, I Googled the phrase and determined that, with a few adaptations, the literal and figurative preparations are relatively similar:
• Relax mentally. One of the phrases that I drilled into my kids’ heads as they grew up: “Bad things happen to people to panic.”¯ Relaxed people can respond more quickly; more fluidly and with more precision than someone who is freaking out. When you catch that blow to the gut, train yourself to relax first, not react.
• Strengthen your spine (technically, the advice given in the Google result I found is ‘strengthen your neck,’¯ but spine is more apt in this instance). People who have a backbone won’t fold at the first ‘punch.’ Make sure that you are secure in yourself (your definition and appreciation of same). Be confident that you know who you are and what you stand for. You can withstand a LOT more slings and arrows (mixing metaphors; I know) if you have some iron in that spine.
• Practice. This doesn’t mean that you figuratively kick sand in the face of every bully on the beach. It DOES mean that you should seek input from people who may probably disagree with you. Having this “speed bag”¯ of negation and criticism peppering your spirit will train you to absorb or deflect subsequent impacts accordingly. Sift, sort…keep those feet moving and your head in the game.
• Breathe. Oxygen cures everything. When the cells quit getting this vital nutrient, they start to shut down. Your brain seizes up and your panic centers start running the show. Breathe, baby. In through the nose; out through the mouth. Every breath is a chance for you to fuel the cells and to think. THEN act.
• Keep your mouth shut. Breathe first, talk second. When we’ve been caught off guard by an attack of any sort, our first natural reaction is to lash out. Bad idea. Better to breathe, think and then respond. Once your words out of your mouth, they can’t be stuffed back in.
• Roll with it. Here’s the truth: you WILL get “punched” along your way to independence.¯ It’s going to happen. The secret is to accept the inevitable but to walk through life “open”¯ anyway. At the risk of adding too many analogies to the mix, this step reminds me of Aikido and its philosophy of redirecting energy. Tense things are brittle and shatter upon impact. Pliant and flexible things bend.
• Keep your balance. Acknowledge the hit, but don’t let it crumple you. Hear what is being said. Experience the feeling fully. Identify any truth within the “punch”¯ and assimilate it into your memory. That said, understand that you are in control of your footwork and your carriage. This is where your conditioning comes in. Draw upon your reserves of successes. Make sure that you are taking care of yourself physically (ie. try to limit habits that may weaken you and instead bolster your strength by relying on habits that build your strength).
• Hang in there. You can do it. You have it within you to do great things.
When have there been times in your life that you’ve sustained a hit and come back stronger? Tell us about it.
Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation)