Talking to people can be hard. Some of us are pre-disposed to smooth engagement with the rest of the society, others find every little interaction awkward and almost painful.
Much of this is in the DNA. I recently read about a research which found the correlation between the reaction of newborn babies to loud music and the tendency to be introverted or extraverted. Those who turn away from the noise source, apparently are more likely to be introverted as adults. If you happen to be a naturally gifted communicator, feel free to skip this post altogether!
If instead you, like me, struggle connecting with people at times, let me explain how Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training can help.
When you walk into a BJJ academy for the first time, you don’t need to worry what people think about you! Everyone knows by default that your jiu-jitsu skills are dreadful/non-existent. And this could not come more handy from an anxiety point of view. Anxiety often accompanies us in the situations of uncertainty and worry of other people’s opinions. Look, the uncertainty is gone – and there are generally a bunch of other newbies in the room with you, so you fit right in!
I’ll tell you more – everyone in the room was once wearing the same shoes. We all start from zero, and we all take pride in helping the beginners.
Then come the smiles. No matter how many times you get destroyed and tapped, you can always count on a slap/bump and a big smile at the end of the round!
BJJ practice is an intense engagement between the training partners, where you have to talk. Sometimes you talk with your mouth to discuss a technique, sometimes you talk with your body by putting extra pressure, going lighter, or grimacing under a cross-face side control.
So even if you are the most introverted person, you don’t really have much choice but to practice your communications skills when you are on the mats. Limited choice can often be a good things, when we try to improve a specific aspect of our lives.
MULTITUDE OF PERSONALITIES
Do you always end up liking everyone in the gym? Of course not. The fact that communication is there, doesn’t mean that you will actually enjoy someone’s company. But more often than not you will find a bunch of teammates who are on the same wave as you are: common interests, matching personalities etc.
Sometimes, it takes trying out a few different academies before you find the one where you feel good about most people there. It doesn’t make one gym better than the other in general – but it makes one better for you!
This is the one outcome of training BJJ that had the biggest impact on my ability to communicate.
Our genes are hard-wired to put the sense of physical security at the top of our life priorities. Nothing makes me walk taller and speak with more conviction than understanding that I’m able to protect myself in case of an altercation.
Honestly, the ‘understanding’ came a lot earlier than the realistic ‘ability’. But hey, I’m not complaining, I know it motivated me and every hour on the mats made me better, and the process hasn’t stopped. You will obviously need to put a good bit of time into training, before the confidence starts going up, but it will be faster than you think.
All of the above will eventually translate from the gym to your daily life.
It is Sunday, and I’m giving myself a bit of a rest today, with only a 20 min morning yoga session done. Tomorrow is a new week – let’s start it strong and keep the momentum going for the rest of it!