Thief of Joy.

Between Sunday open mat and class last night, I am swimming deep in jiu-jitsu glee.

Last week was a little rough here and there. I kind of got in my head a few times and sometimes if you let the littlest seed of doubt or negativity seep in, it just takes over everything. Why is that? Why do we seem to listen and absorb negative self image more than we do the positive. I guess it’s probably different for everyone, but I know for me it seems like I am quick to believe the negative and suspicious of the positive. You should see me when my husband tells me I’m beautiful. “No.” is always my response. Sometimes when I’m feeling a little more polite it’s “Thanks, but no.

I know that most of the time where I go wrong when it comes to negative self-image is when I compare myself to others. Theodore Roosevelt was right on when he said comparison is the thief of joy. It really is an ugly thing we do to ourselves.

In jiu-jitsu one of my biggest mental blocks has always been comparing myself to my peers. I used to be really horrible about it. I mean it was a daily thing. Eventually I learned that that’s not a good road to go down. Even knowing that doesn’t always stop the crazy car from barrelling towards a crash anyway.


The silly part is that there really isn’t a single person that I can accurately compare myself to. I am the only 37-year-old, larger woman in class. I tend to gloss over the fact that people are a different gender or younger or stronger or taller or faster or in better shape and go straight to, “Why am I so far behind this person? Why can’t I do this or that and they can? Why are we the same belt and I’m getting submitted three times in one round?” The only logically-insane Allison reasoning has to be because they are awesome and I am poo.

That kind of thinking is such poison. Dirty thief of joy.

It’s said a lot that the only person you should ever compare yourself to is the old you. So that’s where I tried to go with my brain beating comparisons last week. I shifted from comparison to others to comparison of myself and it almost immediately changed how I felt. I’ve come a long, long way and thinking about that progress made me excited and looking forward to the progress in my future.

Take that, comparison. Ain’t no one thief-in’ my joy.

*It’s a lot more fun if you read that in a redneck accent.


By Sunday open mat I was ready to get in there and get in as many rounds as I could. I had some great rolls, got a lot of help from others on cleaning up and sharpening some techniques I was struggling with, and could feel some progress. My favorite moment was re-learning the D’arce choke. I remember learning it long ago in a class, maybe one of my first classes, and it felt so complicated. I obviously didn’t retain any of it and have never tried it in rolling. It’s pretty cool how much your brain adapts over time to learning jiu-jitsu. How a technique learned in the beginning can confuse you and leave your mind so quickly and then later on when you revisit it you don’t ever understand why it was so confusing the first time. Anyway, my favorite part about that was just the general atmosphere of that moment. Three people doing whatever it took to walk me through it and get the details down. They showed me what to look for, different set ups, common mistakes, escapes, and all the tiny details to get the finish. It was just a cool moment of jiu-jitsu peeps helping each other get better and that just made me happy. Some good ol’ fashion jiu-jitsu warm and fuzzies.

Last night was more of the same from Sunday. Great rounds. A great variety of challenges. Getting a few submissions. Having fun sitting on the edge of the mat talking with people. Playing around with things I haven’t yet tried in live rolling. Having people help me sharpen up some fundamentals. Having success with the shin to shin sweep we drilled in class last week. Making mistakes and learning from them. It was just another great night. A great reminder that surrounding yourself with positive thoughts, positive actions, and positive people is the way to go. I walked away feeling like life couldn’t possibly get better than it is right this moment.


I am just very grateful for where I’m at, the experiences I am getting to have, and the people in my life. Joy is winning at the moment.

*Joy is one of the words that the more you say it/type it/see it, the weirder it sounds/looks. Or maybe I’m the weird one. That’s probably it. 

2 thoughts on “Thief of Joy.

  1. Geriatric Jitsu says:

    Great article about not comparing yourself to anyone else. I’m older, weaker, and not as talented as anyone I train with, but I’m better than I used to be. Every day, I make a note in my journal of a “win of the day” – something I did better than I expected. And I force myself to find something, even if it’s just remembering a tiny detail of a move we learned that day.


    • groundgirlbjj says:

      So sorry for the super late response! I love your journal idea, I think I’m going to have to do something like that! Focusing on the positive is always the way to go and I like that your journal idea forces you to find it even on the frustrating days.


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