Some of you may know that I have a love for MMA (mixed martial arts). I’ve been to every UFC fight ever held in Toronto. This passion came from years of watching boxing growing up with my brother (Oscar De La Hoya being our all-time fave). Most guy’s jaws drop when I can have an extensive conversation about fighters from the past, present, and hopefuls for the future. The series ‘Ultimate Fighter’ is pretty much this girl’s ‘Days of Our Lives’. Crazy I know 🙂

One of the main reasons I think I love this sport is that I admire the skill it takes the fighters to wisely take control of their physical and emotional selves to fight effectively in an out-of-contol atmosphere. If emotions are not controlled they would suffocate any attempt at a mindful and effective fight. Emotions are a definite part of any fight (getting punched in the face is surely going to piss you off and fire you up), but being in control of these emotions takes practice…a lot of practice. And I respect that.

This fighter analogy brings me to this week’s save my life grad school topic; how to use our wise mind. Quite simply, this ‘mind’ turns on when we blend emotional mind and rational mind together. While learning about this wise mind I imagined an experienced fighter in the ring who remembers to play by the rules and make mindful choices, versus an emotional mind fighter who doesn’t rationally analyze their opponent, breaks the rules, and fights strictly with impulsive reactions. Sure, a fighter who uses only emotional mind may get lucky and win a fight from time-to-time with a rage-filled punch, but their career longevity is limited; your luck will eventually run out when fighting with 100% emotional mind…thankfully mine hadn’t yet.

Before save my life school and Homewood, I was a 100% emotional mind fighter through and through! When I felt an uncomfortable emotion I reacted immediately. I would throw that figurative rage-filled punch over and over without even noticing that I was barely winning the fight. And more often than not I would instinctively fight myself and throw in the towel before even putting on the gloves. I thought that ‘being strong’ (aka stubborn and bitter with life) was the only characteristic I needed on my UFC resume. I thought my wisdom of a topic made my fighting strategies irrelevant. And I thought that retreating would make my opponent go away. Only when I was finally down and out for the count would my rational fighter awaken…but by then it was too late…I was already a bloody mess, and no one was in the crowd anymore. And when I finally pulled myself to my knees, all I would do was rehash the emotional fight over and over in my head, or beat myself up for retreating, never even getting close to using my wise mind. The only way I ever knew how to fight in this world was through unnecessary exhaustion and pain.

I’m now learning that taking the time to practice getting to, and using wise mind before throwing that emotional rage-filled punch is a key to having peace and stability in my life. I can still ‘be strong’, but show my strength through patience and mindfulness. I don’t need to knock everyone out to protect my heart. And I now know that I will have to feel a punch or two in life, rather than numb myself, in order to grow. Furthermore, I am learning how to mindfully decide if a battle is even worth the fight at all! Side-bar: Jerseying a girl in Walmart when I was 21 because she got all up in my grill about me flashing my high beams at her after she took MY parking spot…not worth the fight. But MAN it’s an awesome story!  Moving on… 

When I look at all the impulsive things I’ve done through 100% emotional mind I feel foolish and embarrassed; I don’t think that shame will go away for a long time. But now while in crisis, mindfully moving through emotional mind, rational mind, and then on to wise mind, allows me to see that I have way too much to lose by acting impulsively. The consequences of me jumping into the ring of pure emotions and swinging are too damaging. After all those years watching boxing and UFC, never did I think I would be called into the ring for the fight of my life, literally. But I’m no longer the under-dog. I’ve been practicing this life-fight for 38 years…and I’m FINALLY winning.