In case the approaches described in “Ways to Calm the Mind and Body for Shinsa and Shiai (Part 1)” prove insufficient or ineffective, then there may be a deeper issue. Looking under the hood may help. An underlying belief associated with shinsa or shiai may be causing the nervousness or anxiousness. If so, in a nutshell, one would need to identify that belief and then debunk or neutralize it. I expand on the steps with examples and describe the ABCDE Model from REBT and, in brief, Learned Optimism. Please note the disclaimer below.*
May you be free!
The Steps with Examples
- The first step is to identify the problematic belief if any.
- Here are a few ways. A) Genuine self-introspection. For example, reflecting on “Where is this nervousness coming from?” and watching the thoughts. B) Checking against a list of common irrational beliefs [SelfDefeatingBeliefs] [Pierrette] [Messina]. C) Working with a therapist [David, PDF p. 137].
- Here’s an example:
- Some may believe strongly that their sense of self-worth is tied to their performance results and how well they do. “If I don’t do well, then . . . (fill in the blank).” For example, “people won’t respect me”, “I’ll disappoint my peers, sensei‘s or others,” or “I’ll be an embarrassment.”
- Once identified, the second step would be to question the validity of the belief [Ellis_DIBS].
- For example, A) “Does any evidence exist that supports this belief? (“Is my self-worth truly tied to my performance results or other external, impermanent attributes?”), B) “What are the worst things that could happen to me if I don’t win or pass?” C) “What good could happen if I don’t win or pass?”
- Other techniques such as role-playing and reverse role-playing also exist [Spencer, PDF p. 19].
- Once a person realizes that the belief is irrational, the third step would be to replace it with a new, rational belief.
- For example, A) “I am worthy period – irrespective of the lack or presence of accomplishments, rank, wins, etc.” B) “I only need to do my best.”
This approach to calming the body and mind is referred to as Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and embodied in the ABCDE Model described below. It can be quite effective, cathartic and freeing.
Of course, this approach can be applied to other aspects of kendo and life. For example, how we rationalize and then respond to events such as losing an initial point in a match (that may also have been questionable) or setbacks in life can be pivotal to our performance, emotional state and well-being. Some may fall while others may be resilient to such adversities. Athletes at the Olympic level tend to have this latter trait [Bayer] [Seligman98]. Fortunately, such resiliency to adversity is a trait that can be developed – according to the practice of Learned Optimism. It involves the cultivation of habitual, effective and constructive ways to interpret adversities [Simpleology Learned Optimism] [Sarkar12].
The ABCDE Model
The “ABCDE” represents: Adversity → Belief(s) → Consequence → Disputation of Belief(s) → Effective New Belief(s). Given an “Adversity” (also referred to as an “Activating Event”), a person may react or respond with a “Consequence” based on his or her underlying “Beliefs”. Once the problematic “Beliefs” are identified, the next step would be to “Dispute” or question the beliefs and, if possible, insert “Effective New Beliefs”. In the eariler example,
- The “Adversity” is the shiai or shinsa event.
- The “Consequence” is the nervousness or anxiousness.
- The first step identifies the “Belief(s)” which produces the consequence given the adversity. e.g. My self-worth is strongly tied to achieving a higher rank or winning.
- The second step is to “Dispute the belief(s)”. e.g. Is this really true?
- The last step is to insert into the mind “Effective New Belief(s)”. e.g. No, I am worthy person. I only need to do my best.
For more information, there are a number of resources on the ABCDE Model, REBT, CBT including [Bishop04] [Dartmouth] [Froggatt05] [Spencer] [Uhdinger11] [Ellis01] [Ellis75] and on Learned Optimism including [BYU] [Simpleology_LearnedOptimism] [Seligman98].
- [Bayer] Rich Bayer, “Benefits of Optimism,” UpperBay.org (PDF, 2 pages).
- [BYU] “Learned Optimism” Brigham Young University, (PDF, 2 pages)
- [Dartmouth] “Guide3 – Understanding Our Response to Stress and Adversity” Dartmouth University, (PDF, 3 pages).
- [Ellis_DIBS] Albert Ellis, PhD, “Techniques for Disputing Irrational Beliefs (DIBS) (PDF, 3 pages).
- [Froggatt05] Wayne Froggatt, A Brief Introduction to Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, 3rd ed.,” Feb 2005 (PDF, 15 pages)
- [Messina] James J. Messina, PhD, “Handling Irrational Beliefs” from “Tools for Personal Growth,” 2010.
- [Pierrette] “Questionnaire – The Irrational Beliefs”, PierretteDesrosiers.com (PDF, 2 pages).
- [Sarkar12] Mustafa Sarkar, David Fletcher, “Developing Resilience – Lessons Learned from Olympic Champions,” The Wave, pp. 36-38, Oct 2012.
- [SelfDefeatingBeliefs] “The 12 Self-defeating beliefs,” TestAndCalc.com.
- [Wiki_LearnedOptimism] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_optimism
- [Ellis75] Albert Ellis, A Guide to Rational Living, 1975
- [Ellis01] Albert Ellis, Feeling Better, Getting Better, Staying Better: Profound Self-Help Therapy for Your Emotions, 2001.
- [Seligman98] Martin E.P. Seligman, Learned Optimism – How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, 1998.
- Books (for a deeper dive):
- [Spencer] Sarah Spencer, “Rational Emotive Behavaior Therapy: It’s Effectiveness with Children,” Master’s Research Paper, University of Wisconsin, Stout, Dec. 2005.
- [David] Daniel David, Steven Jay Lynn and Albert Ellis (Editors), Rational and Irrational Beliefs – Research, Theory, and Clinical Practice, Oxford Press, 2010, (PDF, 381 pages).
* Disclaimer: the content herein is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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