My Review of The Fighter’s Mind

I recently took a break from reading The Confidence Gap (not because I disliked it in the least, but because I like to mix up what I’m reading sometimes) so I decided to check out The Fighter’s Mind by Sam Sheridan.  I’m always interested in hearing someone tell a story from their perspective, so I figured this book could act as a sort of unofficial sports psychology book, which is something that interests me.

As someone who enjoys psychology, and specifically sports and work psychology, The Fighter’s Mind turned out to be an excellent book to read.  Sam Sheridan interviewed several people in the fighting world, asking them questions about what makes someone a good fighter.  But the qualities that he discovered aren’t limited to success only in fighting, but in all walks of life.

Here are a few takeaways from the book, as well as my reflection on my own life while reading the book, that I’d like you to keep in mind, whether you’re mentoring someone or you’re the one learning:

  • How you deal with and perceive failure/defeat/setbacks is important. Learn how to learn from these adversities.  You need practice and failure in order to improve
  • You become what you believe you are. Success is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and if you believe that you cannot do something then you’ve made yourself incapable of doing it
  • Coaches need to believe in their students; Students need to trust and respect their coaches
  • There’s no top limit or end; Regardless of how good you are right now, you can always improve and reach a new level
  • When you go up against higher competition, you get more out of yourself
  • Confidence, maturity, and feeling relaxed is something that comes from experience
  • Have a good social support system
  • Control your emotions, because anger and frustration take away your stamina
  • Be humble and open-minded enough that you can learn from everyone around you
  • Enjoy what you’re doing. Have fun, and remember why you’re doing it – because you enjoy it
  • Keep things in perspective, and when you need to create a new perspective
  • Everyone wants to feel important. Everyone wants to feel like what they do matters and has a purpose

While everyone I just listed is important, my absolute two major takeaways here are that how you perceive and believe in your abilities is absolutely vital to how successful you are at anything.  In addition, so is how you react to adversity.  So if you can focus on only two things here, I’d want you to train yourself on believing in yourself, and train yourself on embracing and overcoming adversity.

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Buckley Blog Bits – September 7, 2016

  • Blue Jays: It’s amazing how much an amazing end to the 2015 season really seemed to spoil Blue Jays fans. After years of being out of the playoff picture by this point in the season, the Jays are tied with the Red Sox for the AL East lead and have a two game lead on the wild card.  The race is incredibly tight right now, and it’s going to come down to the final weekend of the season (when the Blue Jays visit the Red Sox).  As a fan, it’s hard not to get frustrated with the tough close losses at this point in the season, especially when the teams that are chasing your favorite team right now are winning games and closing the gap.  But it’s important to remain sane during the postseason push.  After all, wouldn’t we all rather be in this position of being in the hunt for even just the wild card after years of having to “wait for next year?” I know one day I’ll look back on this 2016 season and say ‘that was a fun, exciting year,” but in the meantime I think I, like most Jays fans, are going to experience a wide array of emotions down the stretch.  Maybe had the Jays not won the AL East last season, and in such dominating fashion, could I appreciate this season more than I have thus far.
  • MMA: UFC 203 is on Saturday, and I’m really looking forward to the card. Of course, part of that is because I have tickets to the event but also it’s shaping up to be a pretty fun card to watch.  You have a heavyweight title fight which is always fun, and that’s in addition to the fact that you have four current or former world champions on the card (Miocic, Overeem, Werdum, and Faber), plus you have the long awaited MMA debut of CM Punk (which ironically is in the same building where he legitimately quit the WWE back in 2014).  Even the prelim bouts look good on paper, so this card has potential to be the best UFC event I’ve ever attended in person, and I’m really looking forward to it.
  • I/O Psychology: I was reading an article on Psychology Today entitled “5 Signs That It’s Time To Quit Your Job” (link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201609/5-signs-it-s-time-quit-your-job ), and reasons 4 and 5 really stood out to me (I’m not looking to leave my job, but I’m always open to new opportunities if they arise, plus I’m curious to see what other work psychologists say in regards to career satisfaction). I think a lot of people, employers included, don’t always understand the importance of growing/development and purpose in a job when it comes to career and job satisfaction.  Personally, as nerdy as it might sound, I just enjoy learning new things, so I appreciate the task variety and skill variety that my job brings.  In addition, people like to feel important, so if you feel like your job lacks a true purpose, you probably won’t feel a great deal of satisfaction.  Really, we spend so much of our waking hours at work (estimates show anywhere from 40% to 70%), that there’s no need to work at a job where you don’t feel a sense of importance and satisfaction.

Buckley Blog Bits – September 2, 2016

  • Baseball: This season marked the first time I attended both the Buffalo Bisons home opener as well as their home finale. I know that doesn’t necessarily make me unique since I’m sure there are plenty of people who have accomplished that feat, and done so on multiple occasions, but I thought it was interesting that it wasn’t until now that I did that since I grew up going to Bisons games a lot as a youngster.  It’s made me look at attending the Blue Jays’ last home game of the season as well, just so that I could say that in my first season as flex pack holder for both clubs that I attended both the first and the last regular season home game of the year, just because I don’t know when this opportunity will present itself to me again.
  • Baseball, Part 2: But the bigger question is will the Buffalo Bisons allow Celery to win one race next season before Celery retires? Time will tell… Personally, I can see things from both sides. It’d be great to let Celery finish out as a winner, but maybe Celery should always retain that spot as the lovable loser.  Maybe the better question is what am I so intrigued by a mascot race at a minor league baseball game??
  • MMA: My predictions for the main card tomorrow on UFC Hamburg are Andrei Arlovski winning a decision over Josh Barnett, although nothing is going to surprise me here. So while I won’t consider a Barnett victory to be an upset (Barnett is the slight favorite with the bookies), I just think that Arlovski is marginally closer to his prime right now than Barnett is, although both guys are past their prime days.  In the co-main event, I have Alexander Gustafsson finishing Jan Blachowicz in the second round.
  • Psychology: It’s ironic that I found the article “Your Feelings Are Not Your Fault (Mostly)” when I did (Link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/intentional-insights/201608/your-feelings-are-not-your-fault-mostly ), seeing as I’m trying to show support for a friend of mine who is going through a bit of a rough patch as of late. The article got me thinking about my own opinion on the matter, as well as my own life experiences.

I’ve often told others that are going through a rough patch that sometimes you just have to accept feeling bad sometimes, and I’ve said this because I used to fight the pain, but that just made it worse.  Something would happen that would bother me…and then the fact that it bothered me bothered me.  It was like a never ending cycle where I was constantly bothered by the feeling rather than by the event.  Then one day, I decided to just let myself feel bad.  Of course it didn’t feel good to feel bad, but I soon found that I felt better because I felt a TREMENDOUS amount of stress drop off of me.  I had let the negative feelings freely come and go. 

As the article states, “let your feelings come, let them go,” and also “focus on doing, rather than feeling.  Let the feelings be what they are.”  These are two great pieces of advice.  Of course, our main motives in most of the action we take is to try to be happier.  But focus on the task, and don’t set expectations of how it will make you feel.  Let the feeling be spontaneous and unexpected.

My Take on the Fear of Recovery

I was reading an article on Psychology Today entitled “Fear of Recovery” (link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/view-the-mist/201608/fear-recovery), and while what I read initially surprised me, the more I thought about it, it really shouldn’t have.

The article discusses how some people with mental illnesses such as depression or bipolar disorder actually have a fear of getting better, even though their ultimate goal is to become better, because the feelings of their illness have become familiar to them.  It goes without saying that the unknown is a scary thing for all of us, but what was surprising to me was that the unknown, even if it’s supposed to be an improvement or more coveted than our current predicament, can still scare us to the point that we’d rather stay with the status quo.

I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised by it though.  This sort of mentality explains why people remain in relationships when they’re not happy or not truly in love with their partner, even though living the single lifestyle would bring them more joy and fulfillment.  Or why people never seek that promotion at work which would bring them a higher salary, and further life and career satisfaction.

Really, what came as the real shocker to me here was the fact that living a life that’s better than your current predicament, even if that future life is unknown, is still scary enough for someone to want to retain their habits of fearing change.

Maybe it’s the fear of the unknown.  But maybe there’s a fear of failure at not accomplishing your goal. Maybe those that are afraid of getting better are actually afraid of being unable to get better, regardless of how hard they try to.  Personally, I think it all comes down to your mental habits.  If you allow yourself to think that the unknown is a frightening place, or if you allow yourself to think that failure means you suck, then you won’t reach your desired level of life fulfillment.  You have to accept and understand that the unknown (usually) isn’t going to be as scary you imagine it in your mind.

But maybe it comes down to feeling overwhelmed, and perceiving the need for a major change instead of taking things one step at a time.  Personally, while I love my life, I still strive to improve my life on a daily basis, whether it’s saving a few extra dollars here or there, making better dietary choices, working out longer/harder, or maintaining or improving my productivity at work. But I look at things in small steps.  I look at the proximal goal, instead of the distal goal, because when I do that I lose sight of my current smaller goal and predicament, and I feel less engaged in the present process when I focus on the distal goal.

It’s interesting how this “reaction paper” to an article on why people fear overcoming their mental illness turned into me discussing that it comes down to the perception of your goals in life.  I didn’t plan that when I started writing this, but then my mind began wandering a bit.  So maybe what’s buried in the fear of the unknown is the fear of not liking your future as much as you like your present, regardless of how much you dislike your present predicament.

Buckley Blog Bits – August 31, 2016

I’ll be discussing a little bit of everything in today’s edition, as I’ll talk about some mixed martial arts news, an article I read on Psychology Today, and a baseball opinion for good measure:

  • To start things off, I’d like to say that I love the UFC’s signing of Polish lightweight Marcin Held. I’ve been a big fan of his for years.  He’s a former Bellator lightweight title contender, and is only 24 years of age with a record of 22-4 (11-3 in Bellator, with his losses coming against former champions Michael Chandler and Will Brooks, plus one to title contender Dave Jansen, a loss that he recently avenged).  I’m really happy to see that the UFC signed him, because I think he has a wealth of potential so it’ll be great to see him fight the world’s best on a consistent basis.
  • It’s rare that I get pretty excited for a UFC Fight Pass card, but I’m really looking forward to this weekend’s card featuring a heavyweight matchup between Andrei Arlovski (25-12, 1 NC) and Josh Barnett (34-8). This fight was supposed to happen 8 years ago at an Affliction event that ultimately was delayed and then relaunched with a reshuffled card (Arlovski lost to Fedor Emelianenko on that card, while Barnett defeated Gilbert Yvel).  Both are legends in the sport of mixed martial arts, both are former UFC heavyweight champions, and both are at the end of their careers, but it makes for an intriguing matchup nonetheless for me.
  • I was reading an article entitled ‘7 Ways Mentally Strong People Bounce Back From Failure’ this morning (link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201608/7-ways-mentally-strong-people-bounce-back-failure ), and the one aspect that stuck out to me the most was the part that said “mentally strong people use failure as an opportunity to spot their weaknesses,” and this is absolutely true. I was watching a tv show recently where Duke Roufus, a well-respected MMA coach, told his students “if you’re not winning, you’re learning” and that’s absolutely true.  Failure, or whatever you’d like to call it, gives you a chance to learn what your weaknesses are.  Take for example if you’re working out, and you decide to go for a jog and you find that your cardio isn’t up to par with where you’d like it to be.  You haven’t failed at your goal of going for a nice jog, but rather you’ve discovered that you need to work on your cardio a little bit more because it’s not one of your strong points, or it’s not as strong as you’d prefer it to be.
  • Listening to the radio show hosts on SportsNet 590 talk about Joe Biagini and how well he’s pitched this year (he really has had an amazing season, and been an incredible find by the Jays), made me remember how he’s actually been even better than his numbers indicate once you look at the lousy month of June he had. Over a span of 5 weeks, his ERA was 7.36 when he gave up 9 earned runs in 11 innings between June 3 and July 5, and to be honest I was getting worried that his luck had run out.  Needless to say, those concerns were unnecessary and he’s been lights out the rest of the time since his ERA outside of that 5 week stretch is 1.00 (for the season his ERA is 2.25; 14 earned runs allowed in 56.0 innings, but he’s conceded only 5 earned runs in 45.0 innings outside of that rough stretch).

Buckley Blog Bits – August 29, 2016

I’m just rambling with some random thoughts here today, after enjoying a great weekend in Toronto watching the Blue Jays, as well as reading a bit…

  • Don’t Procrastinate and Wait Til Next Time: I used to say “I’ll do it next time” a lot in regards to fun things I wanted to do because I was in a rush to get somewhere else, but I decided to stop doing that and just do something when I want to even if it means I might be a few minutes late for my next destination, and it feels great to do that. For example, the harbor area near the arena and ballpark in Buffalo has been very nicely re-developed lately, so I had wanted to go for a walk and just sit and watch the water for a while (lots of psychology books discuss the relaxing feeling you get from watching water), so after a recent Bisons game I decided to head down to the harbor, sit down, and just allow myself to relax for a little while. Sure, I got home a few minutes later than I originally planned on, but what was I really going to do at home with those “extra” 15 minutes or so? This works into the idea of jam packing my schedule that I discussed in a recent article, and maximizing the most of my time every day to live my life to the fullest.  Another example is that I decided to stop in Batavia and go to the Muckdogs’ game on the way home from Toronto over the weekend, just because I felt like it instead of making myself wait until another time to go to a game there.  So maximize the opportunity and do as much as you can in as little of you can, instead of making yourself wait “until next time.”
  • You Don’t Necessarily Fail at Goals: If you don’t reach your goal by your deadline, did you really fail at it? I doubt it. You still did a better job than you would’ve had you not had the goal in the first place, plus you can just extend your deadline by a little bit in order to hit that goal you’re seeking to achieve.  For example, I would’ve liked to finish my undergraduate degree in four years, but I did it in four and a half.  Did I fail at the goal because I didn’t achieve it in my ideal timeframe? Not really, because I still finished my degree, it just took me a few months longer than I would’ve preferred.
  • Keep a Journal: You don’t necessarily need to blog about it (this isn’t even all my thoughts, these are just the ones I choose to disclose publicly because I think they can help others see things from a new perspective) but writing things down can be beneficial. Personally, my mind races a lot and I have this strange paranoia about “losing” my thoughts, which is why I write a lot of them down.  I practically never even go back to read any of my random assortment of thoughts (to be honest, I actually hate re-reading old thoughts), but I enjoy the peace of mind I obtain by writing them down if I need to come back to them.
  • Acquiring Confidence: Confidence doesn’t just show up spontaneously. You have to earn it, by acting the way you’d like to behave, and by practicing the skills that you want to be good at, whether it’s a skill at a sport, or improving your social skills.  For example, I had no clue what I was doing when I first started playing park golf, and was pretty self-conscious when I shot a +6 the first time I ever played it.  But over time, I’ve played the game more frequently and gotten better at it and now I’m pretty confident in my skillset, all while I’m striving to beat my new personal best score of a -6.
  • There’s Always Another Level: Simply put, no matter how good you are at something already, you can ALWAYS get better. So my focus has always been on widening the gap between the person I am right now at this moment, and who I was in the past, whether it’s who I was yesterday, last week, last year, or even 10 years ago.
  • Balance: So…how do you balance staying positive, being a realist, while allowing negative thoughts, and refraining from being arrogant when you do something super awesome while remaining upbeat after being labeled as a failure when you don’t reach that goal on time even though you’re pretty good at something else already and are trying to be happy with where you are now while still striving to be even better? Great question. Isn’t life awesome like that?

So in conclusion here, keep these key points in mind:

  • Maximize the opportunity and enjoy yourself as much as you can
  • You don’t really fail at goals, even if you don’t fully accomplish what you want to
  • Write your thoughts down because it’s just easier to let go of them, and it allows your brain to filter the unwanted crap out of it
  • Not everything is universal. What works for me isn’t guaranteed to work for you, and what works for you isn’t guaranteed to work for me.  It’s your life.
  • Confidence doesn’t just appear spontaneously. You have to earn it through practice and acquiring your desired skill set.
  • Always strive for the next level. That doesn’t mean you can’t take satisfaction in where you are now, but always be motivated to top your personal best.
  • Focus on the present. Pretty much, it’s great to have future goals and I encourage that, but keep in mind that life can change in an instant (I’m not looking to provide you with more anxiety, but it’s true) so take advantage of where you are right now and keep your focus more on the “now” than the “then.”
  • Balance yourself out. Pretty much, stay positive while being a realist while you allow negative thoughts to flow through your mind on occasion while remaining to be upbeat because nothing is rarely ever “that bad.”
  • You don’t live once, you live everyday.  So keep that in mind.

Buckley Blog Bits – August 26, 2016

I’ve been reading and thinking a lot lately, so I just decided to share some of my thoughts about life in general that I think most people could benefit from knowing.

  • Start the day with something fun: This starts your day out on a positive note and makes you more optimistic about the rest of the day. There’s no need for you to delay some sense of gratification until after the work day is over.  You can do anything you want when you first wake up, whether it’s reading a book, watching some television, or working out.  Do anything that you want that will put you in a positive state of mind to start the day.  Personally, this is why I avoid reading texts or e-mails on my phone when I first wake up.  Rarely do I wake up to a negative message, but the few times I have really soured the rest of the day for me since I started on a negative note.  So I advise waiting to check those until you’ve gotten to work if you can afford to do so.
  • Make time for what you enjoy: We’re all living pretty busy lives. If you want time to do something fun, such as reading or working out (or whatever your hobbies are), then you need to make sure to jam that time into your schedule.  That extra time isn’t going to magically fall into your lap, so it’s up to you to take the initiative, stop procrastinating, and just do it.  It’s a fun feeling when you realize you’re getting the most out of your time on a daily basis.
  • Recognize that some negative thoughts are actually helpful: Of course, it sucks to be plagued by negative thoughts (it’s impossible to rid your mind of them entirely, so please don’t waste your energy trying), and sometimes your brain can just be a real douchebag. But if you take a different perspective of them, all of a sudden they’re really not incredibly negative and can actually be pretty helpful.  For example, if you’re having negative thoughts about a financial situation, it can actually be a positive because it can force you to probe further into the issue and come up with a strategy to get out of your situation.  It’s all about the way you spin your predicament that determines your reaction to it.
  • Be honest with yourself, but not harsh: It’s okay to be honest with yourself, but don’t get too harsh on yourself. No one wants to feel like crap, so why would you be any harsher on yourself than you have to be? It really doesn’t help you in the long run, so give yourself an honest assessment, but don’t beat yourself up in the process.
  • Understand that you can always improve: Don’t beat yourself up over the fact that you “could’ve done better” because everyone can always do better, regardless of their performance. But understand that there is always room for improvement, even if you are the best in the world at what you do, so let that be motivation for you.  If you’re working out, strive to set a new personal best.  If you’re saving money, strive to have a higher net worth.  If you’re learning a new language, strive to learn a few extra words each week.  Be happy with where you are now, but also be happy knowing that you have room to grow and further develop.
  • Tell People How You Feel: Just be honest. I know that sometimes the truth hurts and such, but there really isn’t much point in wasting time leading others on or not letting them not how you feel, whether it’s a professional relationship, a friendship, or a romantic relationship.  And I mean this for both positive and negative things.  People enjoy hearing that they’re appreciated, and that’s just a fact of life. But just because you know that you think highly of someone, that doesn’t mean that they know you think highly of them.  So please, just tell people how you feel as long as you’re genuine and sincere when you say things.  It might feel awkward to be that blunt, and it’ll probably take practice before you feel confident being this candid with others, but I can assure you the person you tell your compliment/comment to will appreciate hearing it and your life will be much less stressful as well.

 

  • On that note, thanks for taking the time to read this blog. I enjoy writing it on a regular basis, as it allows me to get my thoughts and opinions out there, and I do genuinely appreciate those of you who take the time on occasion to check-in and read what I was to say.