by Sifu (Dr.) Rikin Patel MD
In our last article, Watch for the Ego Trap: Part I, we introduced the concept of the “Ego Trap” which is a motivational dilemma caused when an overestimation of our abilities that eventually leads us to recognize there is a gap in what is expected of us and what is in fact reality. This can either be self-imposed or placed on us by others. This leads to avoiding the challenge that awaits us for fear of not living up to the above normal expectations that has been created.
So, let’s apply this information to our children’s or our own Kung Fu training. First, set the bar at a reasonable level. This doesn’t mean we don’t push ourselves or encourage our children. It means to set the bar just ahead of where you are now where you are actually quite confident you can get to rather than a very high distance from where you are. We can understand this very easily by simply looking at New Year’s resolutions. Research shows that the one of the most common reasons for dropped resolutions is having unreasonable expectations.
One small example from my training is my use of the centre split stretcher. It has a wheel that I turn to push my legs out further. I’ll shoot for rotating the wheel just a few degrees or a centimetre further than the previous time. For stances that could mean, one inch lower, for a new form that could mean adding one more move and for a form you know it could mean doing it faster, adding pauses or kicking just a little bit higher. Over a week or month it may seem like very little progress but watch the difference over 6 months to a year. Now you’re talking. Keep in mind that practice makes progress!
Avoiding the ego trap for parents they may want to consider a different approach that might look this as one example. “Tommy, school is different these days and the demands are greater. Given you won’t be able to practice your Kung Fu enough over the next 6 months to get ready to grade we don’t expect you to be ready for the next grading.” Remember children and teens love rising to a challenge and our goal as parents is create hunger and a desire to excel.
A reminder for both parents and students is that we all have three needs to succeed:
- Autonomy or the sense we are driving our own ship.
- Competence or the feeling I can do this well.
- Relatedness, both to yourself and others. It’s the feeling of closeness and connection with those that matter to you.
Reflect on these needs in your life.
It’s great to watch those that are better than us for motivation, let’s just work on getting out of the mentality of constantly comparing ourselves to others. It’s not easy but from my 30 plus years of training Kung Fu it promotes longevity and one of the easiest ways to help us rise above the ego trap.