Put Your Positive Pants On.


I’ve noticed that I’m having more and more of a hard time writing lately. For so long, about 10 months to be exact, my posts have revolved around struggle and losing and conflict. I’ve said it a lot lately, but it really is quite amazing the transformation that can take place when you shift your focus away from those things. My writing may be suffering a little because of it. I think it was easier to write about the conflicts, mostly because I was so good at creating all kinds of unnecessary bullshit and negativity in my head and poking fun at it. I was a pro at putting myself down and beating myself up. But, when you take all the negative, critical, “Poor me, I suck!”crap away the fact that remains is quite simple…

I am getting better every time I get on the mat.

Simple as that.

Even when I lose (which still happens all the time), I am getting better. Even when I struggle to execute a technique (which still happens all the time), I am getting better. Even when I make a huge mistake (which still happens all the time), I am getting better.

And, I’m super happy about that.

For those first 10 months I spent so much time concerned with those around me instead of focusing on myself, my abilities, and my progress. If someone could dominate me, I would get defeated because they were better than me. If someone has put in less time than I have and submitted me, I felt like I was never going to get better. I was letting every roll defeat me emotionally. I was putting all the positive focus on them (they are good, they are more skilled, they are better, they are learning faster) and putting all the negative on myself (I suck, I always lose, I’m not as strong, I can’t ever submit people.)

Negativity is a heavy weight to carry. Especially when you put it all on your own shoulders and inside your own head.

Then I got some great advice from an SFC coach – Find the victory in each roll. No matter how small, find the victory.

At first there were times that I had to really, really search hard to find victories. It could have been as simple as I remembered a small detail in a technique, I didn’t tap to a tight, but not quite deep enough choke, I made it a minute more without being submitted, I defended a back take, I simply survived. Now, out of habit, I effortlessly find the victories and handle my frustrations better. It’s become just an automatic reaction.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still had a few moments of frustration here and there. However, I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better about handling it. I remember one night in particular I had finally passed someone’s guard after a hell of a battle and finally got to side control only to have them immediately bridge, get the knee in, and re-guard. I worked so hard at passing and I was, in a matter of seconds, back at square one. After this happened for the second time I started to fall back into my old tendencies of beating myself up. For a second I almost let the frustration take over. But, I’ve learned that getting frustrated doesn’t do anything positive for me. Those emotions don’t magically make me a super skilled, agile guard passer. So why waste energy on frustration when there are better tools to handle the task of passing someone’s guard?


Remain calm.

Get back to work.

Focus on the task in front of me.

One step at a time.

Figure out what you are doing wrong in side control that is causing you to lose position.

The frustration would have gotten me nowhere. Calming down and giving it another try resulted in me getting to work my guard pass again and realizing my mistake in side control. That shift of focus from frustration to action ended up with me getting to crucifix and getting a submission via armbar.

That victory of not letting my frustration get the best of me led to three more victories: not losing position, transitioning to a more dominate position, and getting the submission.

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”


It makes BJJ so much more enjoyable when you take out the stress and pressure that occurs when you let emotions that lead to frustration and defeat come into play. The best part is that I feel like my improvement while I’ve been focusing on positives and victories has really taken a big leap. I can see and feel a big difference in my skills and how much quicker I am learning.

It’s like BJJ is finally, effortlessly fun for me now. (Now if we could just get my oldest son in this same mindset!)

So I pass on the same simple, yet great advice that I’ve learned so much from:

Find the victories in every roll, no matter how small. Remove the negative junk in your brain and fill it instead with positive thoughts, focus, and drive. It makes all the difference.

BJJ “Focus on the Positive” Challenge – Pretty much a repeat from the post above. I got a little frustrated with myself last night. Nothing major, just made some mistakes and lost position because of it. To handle this kind of situation as the old Allison I probably would have given up and gone home for the night. Instead, I took some time to chill, drink some water, and focus not necessarily on my mistakes and the frustration, but what I could do differently next time. It only took a few minutes and I felt ready to get back out there and try again.

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