Trigger Warning: I mention abuse in a non-graphic way in the latter half of this post. If you are vulnerable or triggered by such mentions, please do not read this post.
During April, I’m writing 26 posts for the A to Z Blog Challenge. I’m combining my skills as a writer, a life coach, and a martial artist (2nd degree black belt in ITF Taekwondo) to create a series of posts about applying aspects of TKD to life outside of martial arts. Whenever possible, I’ll include a little Taekwondoodle to illustrate what I’m talking about.
Sometimes, you don’t know what you think you know.
I can distinctly remember learning Inner Forearm Block.
I have a great memory but because of how I store information, I don’t memorize specifics easily. Hence, I sometimes have trouble associating the names of TKD movements with the movements themselves.*
However, Inner Forearm Block made perfect sense to me. When I do the block correctly, I can see the inside part of my forearm. I was pretty impressed with the fact that I could always name that specific movement.
When I learned Outer Forearm Block, I had another victory. In Outer Forearm Block, I could see the outside of my forearm, it was easy to remember!
Any martial artist reading this is currently thinking “Wait, but…that’s not…” and then they aren’t even sure how to address the problems in those previous sentences.
This was early in my TKD training and I didn’t know the scope of what I didn’t know.
When I began to learn other blocks and their ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ positions didn’t match what I “knew” from those first blocks, I got very confused and frustrated. Why were they changing things around on me? How come this wasn’t consistent from block to block?
Truthfully, the context had been properly explained to me from the beginning but because I was so focused on learning the movement itself, I had missed it. Those blocks are named for the blocking tool – the piece of your body you are using to block the strike.
So, the ‘Inner Forearm Block’ is using the piece of your forearm that is naturally closest to your body when your arm is hanging down – the side that your thumb is on. An ‘Outer Forearm Block’ uses the other side of your forearm, the side furthest from your body when your arm is hanging down – the side your pinkie is on.
Before the new information forced me to correct my position, I was confident in my incorrect knowledge. I didn’t have enough experience to know that I was wrong.
Now, that incorrect knowledge did serve me well for the time being but it didn’t give me anything to grow on. I couldn’t get any better – and in fact, couldn’t add any power to those blocks – until I understood the big picture.
I have encountered a lot of people – including myself – who make that mistake in other areas of their lives, too. It happens to my coaching clients all the time and they end up being very hard on themselves.
They don’t have the full picture or the full context so they focus on one piece of knowledge and assume it explains everything.**
Usually, that comes down to blaming themselves for a situation over which they have no control.
They don’t know why the other person is behaving badly, so they blame themselves.
They can’t get their schedule to behave, so they assume they are flawed.
They can’t establish a certain habit, so they decide they are lazy.
In every case, the person in question has either been focusing on the wrong information or they have lacked a bigger context – just like I was with my inner/outer forearm blocks.
You don’t know why the other person is behaving badly but you are not responsible for someone else’s behaviour. They choose (consciously or unconsciously) to act the way that they do. Their behaviour may have nothing to do with you, or it may be related to you but it is still their responsibility to communicate effectively and maturely to address the situation.
(NOTE: If someone is hurting you in any way and they are telling you that you are bringing it on yourself, please seek some outside help. As convincing as abusers can be, they are choosing to act the way they do. No victim of abuse ’causes’ that abuse – it a ploy used by abusers to control their victims.)
If you can’t get your schedule to behave or if you can’t establish a habit, the problem isn’t you. You are not flawed. You lack the information to make this work.
There is a perception that schedules and habit creation are one-size-fits-all but we don’t have one-size-fits-all lives. (spoiler alert: even one-size-fits-all clothing doesn’t most people) We all have unique histories, experiences, lives and obstacles and what works for one, may not work for you. You are not flawed, you are not weak, you just need a different system or approach.
I hate to see anyone be hard on the themselves because they can’t make a system work for them. They need to look at the things that get in their way, the things that challenge them, and then figure out specific work-arounds. Yes, there are general guidelines that can help most people – stacking habits, preparing in advance, having specific start times and signals – but the specifics of how those things will apply vary from person to person.
Please don’t assume that because you are the central character in your life that you must be the problem.
There is always a bigger picture, a bigger story, and, like me with the narrow view of the forearm blocks, you need to figure out that broader context. That’s when you will understand what’s going on and become more effective.
Please be good to you.
*For example, twin knifehand block and knifehand guarding block are different movements but there is nothing in the name that inherently distinguishes one from the other, you just have to know which is which. Or, if you are me, you make a one line story about which one is which. 😉
**I’m not getting into the areas of politics or internet arguments here but obviously this can apply in those contexts, too. I’m just sticking to how this works for coaching.