Martial Art of Self

Hosted ByAldin Hrvat

In this personal journey, I am re-defining what has mostly become Martial Arts for me in my mind and bringing it back to (my)Self – seeing where and how I can apply the essence of it into everyday moments and things in life.

A part of the Martial Art of Self process is investigating and re-defining the system and principles of martial arts, and bringing it back to (my)Self. I use martial arts to understand and expand myself as a being, as an individual.

Episode 15: Chasing Positive Feelings

In this episode of the Martial Art of Self, we continue exploring some further dimensions of the Martial Arts personality.

In particular, we open up and discuss the pattern of chasing positive feelings through our art, or whatever it is we are doing. 

More often than not we are trying to generate some powerful positive feelings to boost our ego, or we look for positive feelings to superimpose onto the negative way we truly feel deep within ourselves, or life.

Here I tell my story of how I chased some positive feelings to boost my ego or compensate for the negative emotions I felt inside. I list some of the core applications that I use to face and work through my negative emotions.

The essential question I ask here is whether the things we do – such as martial arts – grow our person or our ego.

Music by Fidelis Spies


Episode Transcript

[00:00] Welcome to the Martial Art of Self podcast, a podcast about bringing the essence of martial arts back to self.

[00:12] Hi everyone this is Aldin, and in today’s episode, we are continuing with the martial arts personality.

[00:20] Today we are talking about the action of chasing positive feelings through our martial arts practice or whatever it is that we’re doing and/or following. Be it any sport, any particular movement or project, whatever – you name it.

[00:35] So I would like to share a little story where I saw within myself time and time again that it is very easy to become stuck, to become obsessed with one singular thing that I’m doing.

[00:47] Meaning that doing and following martial arts principles, for example, and doing the practices, going to my training, and so on – all those things about this one thing which in this case is martial arts become my world. Where I had lost sight of other areas of life through my obsessive participation in martial arts. Obsessive in the sense that most of what I think, and most of what I feel about, and most of what I do in my day or my day to day living has to do with and about martial arts. Be it practicing techniques, practicing that kick or that punch, sharpening my steps, my movements, or just thinking about how to generate more power, how to have more speed or at a more speed, and so on, and so forth.

[01:47] So, I essentially ended up becoming so obsessed and tunnel-visioned into martial arts only and primarily that it has mainly, or it had mainly just become an empty sequence, and pattern of movements. It has become this automated form or routine of showing up to my martial arts classes, to my training, doing my training, doing essentially the same movements and exercises over and over and over again, but they are empty. Meaning that I as a person, I as an individual am not in it, am not in the practice, in the movements, in what I’m doing. That my being or my essence, if you will, is not in it at all and I am essentially not really enjoying it anymore, and like the joy has left, if you will, and it has become honestly more of a burden on me and in my life, where I think of it as from this perspective of — it has become this thing where I think I must do it it has become a must.

[03:12] Where I lost track essentially of the initial starting point or the initial motivation that I had for practicing, the motivation that was more aligned, and that was more fulfilling if you will.

[03:29] So, I noticed how I slowly but surely turned martial arts and my martial arts practice into this — into an obligation in my mind and in my life. Something of which I think about as ‘I must do’, ‘I must do it’ instead of my practice, honestly, being something that I do to benefit me, to benefit my mentality, and my physical body – I instead ended up just adding more hours, and more intensity and more volume to my martial arts practice, because of seeing it as must, as this — as an obligation to become better than others. Becoming obsessed with this desire, this want, and this need to become better than others, to perform better than others. Chasing the energy of adrenaline I got from a workout, I got from training or from from noticing or just thinking within my own mind that I’m good at a technique or it’s something, for example, that my speed was good or that I had lots of power during a training or that I did better than someone else during the sparring that I did or during the training and so on. 

[04:42] So, why do I chase the adrenaline or why did I chase the adrenaline, I asked myself, and it was because the moments that I don’t chase, and I don’t try to attain that high-energy sensation from the adrenaline that the adrenaline is giving me, and through — if I don’t make an attempt to access the thoughts inside me that make me feel better about myself, and more — or make me feel more than somebody else – what I noticed is that I felt empty, and I feel empty.

[05:21] Meaning that I am left alone inside of me to deal with the actual negative emotions that are inside my mind, that I actually feel, but I suppress these negative sensations and emotions through chasing the positive energies of, for example, superiority, pride, a fake confidence, and arrogance, righteousness, ego, and so on continually. So, I accepted and allowed myself to be so afraid of the — and I noticed that I accepted and allowed myself through this process of self-inquiry, that I allowed myself to be so afraid of the negative emotions. I noticed that I was so afraid of the negative emotions that I have inside my mind and that I feel inside my body, being afraid of essentially the sensation of the emotions of, you name it depression, fear, anxiety, insecurity, judgment, self-judgment, hatred, anger, self-diminishment, and so on. So, being afraid essentially of, and really of the way that these negative emotions feel like in my mind and in my body.

[06:45] Then I discovered hopelessness, because I didn’t know or I don’t know what to do about these negative emotions that I feel or felt or how to help myself out of them or through them, how to work through them, how to understand them, and I mean the only thing that I know or that I knew of is to, simply put, ‘blanket’ these negative emotions with positive feelings. Trying to generate as many, and as many positive feelings as I can. Pleasure, superiority, ego, arrogance, pride, adrenaline, and so on.

[07:25] So that I — through that I can overlay the negative with the positive, so that I overlaid it good with what I call the bad sensations, if you will, but realize that by blanketing and by superimposing or by trying to hide the negative emotions that that I feel, that I felt or that we feel or blanketing the issues that we have in our life by trying to generate and chase activities that produce certain thoughts and inner chit-chat about us or about something, like telling ourselves how good we are, and how great we are or how better we are at something as opposed to somebody else, and we compare ourselves with, and then, in turn, those thoughts then start generating or start triggering positive feelings inside of us, inside of our minds, which we feel then inside of our bodies.

[08:24] What we’re doing for that is we are not really solving the problem of those negative emotions in the first place existing inside of us. We are merely suppressing, shoving and throwing positive things at them, burying them or trying to burn them more and more, and deeper and deeper inside of our minds and inside of our bodies. 

[08:45] I mean they are not gone and they still work their way through of us, through our minds, through our bodies, and through our lives, but now because they’re not in the forefront they are becoming — they’re acting in the background, and they are literally becoming but the base or the framework of us, the framework of me, and how we feel most of our days, and nothing is fixe. It’s just ignored if you will.

[09:14] So, I find it very ,very important and essential to deal with the negative emotions that we have inside of us, and to not try to suppress them through – through chasing continually positive feelings and literally being out for attaining some form of ego-boost, be it through our martial arts, through our other training or sport or or any other activity really – music, watching movies, series, and you name it – anything. 

[09:55] So, what do I do or — I mean I’d like to share a little bit of what I do to deal with and process, for example, in my case my negative emotions, is that I made a habit of writing, of journaling about really the raw content, the raw information about what it is that I’m feeling. Not lying to myself, really pushing myself and setting myself into this starting point: Okay, I’m going to be honest with me here in this period of 10, 20, 30, 60 minutes of writing, sitting with me — this, having this writing and journaling session about me and allowing myself to be raw with me, allowing the raw information as it exists about something that I feel about something or someone to come through, and not filter it, not analyze it, not dictate, so to speak, the information within me and leave out certain details or parts, negative or positive, but write and accept the information as it exists in its raw form within me about something that I feel towards something or towards someone to come through in my writing. 

[11:11] Essentially being honest with me, not holding back on that raw information inside my mind about how I feel about something or what my issue is with something, and I found that through writing it this way – like it is already a very, very big step, and a beneficial step in getting the information, the feeling as it exists, the emotion as it exists, the issue as it exists, out there in its rawest form, unfiltered – to see what it is that we’re dealing with, and start processing.

[11:49] And then another thing that I do is something called self-forgiveness. Now, self-forgiveness is an invaluable method I have found for the ten plus years that I’ve been applying it, and it’s a — it’s essentially and simply put a tool that aids in releasing emotions, in releasing the feelings, the energies in them, of them. Releasing the thoughts, the patterns, the personalities, the characters that I’ve constructed inside my mind that I hold myself within if you will, that keep me at a certain self-definition level, and anything — releasing simply anything that I’m going through. It helps a lot with dissecting the patterns, dissecting the personalities, the feelings, the emotions, the thoughts, my behaviors, and so on, and so forth. Really seeing more, allowing more of a flow than simply just writing and journaling, if you will — at least I found in my case, and really allowing you to get to the core of something, and — but I mean I believe one can do an entire series about self-forgiveness. So, I’m just going to leave it off here. 

[13:05] So, that’s another tool that I use on a — and I really push myself to do it on a daily basis, and the other thing is really a more of a principal thing which is to not turn my back on the negative emotions that I feel. Meaning to face them, to muster up the courage to show up to them, to look them in the eye, so to speak, and to not scare away or run away from them — not allowing myself to act on the feeling, if I have it, of being intimidated, of feeling inferior and feeling afraid or anxious of them, but really pull myself up, bring myself to that point, muster up all the courage I have to face the emotion that I experience and I’m afraid of in the eye, and deal with it, face it and not run away — and to be aware and to really — and this is another point to be aware and to give attention to not trying to chase positive feelings from the starting point to compensate for the negative emotions that I feel.

[14:18] I mean of course it happens, but to really make sure to deploy that awareness and self awareness, and to make that strive actively to catch me in the act if I do so – if I chase positive feelings to suppress my negative ones, and instead of processing them actively through, for example, writing or self-forgiveness, as I talked before, I mentioned before — and then to support me to stop doing that, to stop chasing the positive feelings and instead to face and to work through my negative emotions, issues and problems because I understand that to process them, to work through them, to face them is the only thing that works, and I’ve proven this to myself for ten plus years – is to face them and to work through them, not to suppress them, because suppressing them and trying to run away from them by any means, be it like also by the means of using positive feelings to trying to drown out the negative ones, is not working. They just act more in the background and they’re just — the positive feelings just become the part that is more existent in our conscious minds, while in the lower levels of the mind, if you will, and our bodies and being the negative emotions are still very, very much at work and doing their way and really generating and creating and directing who we are, our behavior and the thoughts we have. It all originates from that base, that framework that we try to suppress.

[15:47] So, to be aware and give attention to try – to not try to chase positive feelings to compensate for the negative emotions, but to face and allow myself to work through the negative emotions, issues, and problems, and by any means find solutions to them, practical solutions to live and change, and to — the next point to really get to know the negative emotions or the way I feel about something or someone. Meaning to define the emotion of for example anxiety, fear, depression. How does it make me feel, what thoughts, what inner chit-chat do I have when I feel the emotion of – I don’t know – fear, depression? What behavior or behaviors do I revert to when I feel the emotion of fear, and depression, for example. What physical sensations do I have when I feel the emotion of fear, depression, of jealousy, etc. What does feeling emotions – hatred, anger, spite make me do? How does it make me feel in my body? Do I get weak knees? How does the energy of the emotion feel like? Does it feel hot in my body? Does it feel kind of tingly? Cold? Does it feel kind of like a sensation of shivering? Of piercing? Is it electrifying? Is it feeling like paralyzing, and so on.

[17:11] So truly getting to know it. So that – so that through getting to know it we remove the mystery factor from it, if you will, and I find that — and I found that naming the emotion and accurately getting to know how it feels and what it does to me and what it does to my body, is the — is the first invaluable step to remove that mystery, and that fear factor from it. It creates already a first level, and a first boost of confidence and assurance and faith, and a strength within that I can take this emotion on, and I can work through it, and that I’m not truly lost or have to be defeated by it, and have to succumb to it.

[17:57] So those are just a few main, or core things that I do, and pay attention to, in terms of supporting myself to process my negative emotions, and not trying to suppress them through this act of, or this pattern of chasing positive feelings. And I’m sure if you really quiet yourself down, and you look honestly within yourself, and allow yourself to be honest you will see a lot of things that you do is — a lot of things that we do is, we are doing is exactly this participation in this pattern of chasing, of doing particular things, of following particular routines, sports, hobbies, etc. from the starting point of chasing within it this positive feeling so that we can suppress, and kind of manage, instead of process, the negative emotions which is the real or raw stuff that we actually feel most of the time within ourselves.

[19:02] And I mean, I understand it is a deep question indeed, and it requires a lot of guts, I have found for myself, for example, in my process to question ourselves and to confront and to challenge ourselves with examining our passion, especially if it’s a passion, with a keen and analytical eye, to challenge why we do and follow our passion — and often I have found in my life and through conversations with others that we do and we follow something, because we try to get a certain emotional or feeling energy experience from it. 

[19:38] We are trying to boost a certain aspect of our ego or compensate for the real negative emotions and ways that we are feeling inside ourselves, trying to compensate it with a – with an artificial positive feeling that gets generated through something like our sports, martial arts, etc. 

[20:00] Yet I find that if we don’t challenge our passion, and what we do simply, I mean, to use it to cross-reference our true starting-point of doing it we will end up being forever – forever living in ignorance, in this — a false bliss created from ignorance and fear instead of gifting ourselves that moment to disclose the truth of what we do, and why we do it, or we do something, like martial arts, to ourselves. So that we give ourselves that chance to be able to realign and correct our starting point of why we do what we do if necessary, if we find it’s necessary from asking ourselves that question and following this process of self-inquiry within self-honesty. So that through that we can consequently live a more fulfilled and fulfilling life and be more fulfilled in the things or passions we do and have and follow truly.

[20:57] And for me, martial arts has become something where I try to measure myself against others in my mind and compensate certain emotional experiences of insecurity, inferiority, and self-judgment that I have about me and my self-image and my body-image through creating feelings of superiority, and ways of boosting my ego. So, for me, too, it is time to re-evaluate and to correct the starting point once more.

[21:28] And, I mean, that is a question each of us must ask ourselves: Why are we doing what we are doing? Are we doing it because it grows our person, our self-honesty, our authenticity, and our character – or are we doing it because it grows our ego?

[21:47] So, the question is does it grow you, or does it grow your ego?

[21:53] Thank you very much, see you in the next episode.

[21:57] Thank you for listening to the Martial Art of Self podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, then please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes. You can also follow this podcast on Twitter and Instagram. For more information about the Martial Art of Self, please visit martialartofself.com

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