The devil inside
(I will be referring mostly to fighting in this one but you can apply this to just about anything in life.)
“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he doesn't exist.”
We all have a devil inside of us. You can call it doubt, fear, etc., it makes no difference. Too often, we prepare ourselves for an evil that is going to kick in the front door yet we let the same one creep in the side entrance disguised as a harmless house pet. The problem is that the devil does not attack us as we think he will. He usually comes to us as a friend, or at least someone who is looking out for our best interests. “Take the day off, you've been pushing yourself hard enough. Ease back on those sprints; you don't want to over train. Have a beer, you deserve it and besides, it won't affect you in the fight anyway.” You can't treat these thoughts as if they are nothing, that's when they are the most dangerous. You need to face them as if they really were a devil standing right in front of you trying to make you fail. When I'm running sprints, or anything else, and that little voice starts whispering in my ear, telling me to ease back, I often verbally confront it. And yes, I may appear like a crazy person at times. “Come on mother fucker. You ain't shit, no one can make me quit, you're gonna hafta try a hell of a lot harder than that. This is easy!!!” (sorry about the language) Not only does it motivate me to push myself that much harder but after I finish I do truly feel like I've conquered a weaker side of myself. I know that next time it will be that much more difficult for those voices to get in my head. They're going to have to step their game up. Each time that I conquer them, I know that I am that much stronger.
One time, and yes only once in my entire career have I ever quit on the treadmill (or anything else for that matter). This was actually when I was getting ready for my fight with Tomahawk. It was one of my last sprint sessions before the fight. I had knocked out the first three rounds of them no problem. Best I'd felt yet. The first half of the 4th round was fine but as soon as I crossed the middle point a voice hit me like a truck, “There's no way you can do this!” Keep in mind that this was right after I had busted my ribs and was having a hard enough time even breathing let alone running sprints...so cut me some slack! As soon as that voice entered my head, it was as if all the life left my body. I stepped off the treadmill, in between the sets, and I just couldn't get back on. I was done! I tried to get going again but it was useless. I went out behind the gym and walked around. I felt like the weakest person on the planet, as if I had just let myself, and everyone else, down. I had never been so disappointed in myself in my entire life. I couldn't believe that I let a little work out, no matter how difficult, get the best of me. The only good thing I took from that was the realization that I would rather die than ever feel that again. I don't care what happens; you'll have to kill me in order to make me stop. The strange thing was that I've always had that mentality. This was nothing new. I just think the fact that I actually gave up on something made it sink in that much more.
It's not the big mistakes that you have to really watch out for, most times, it's the seemingly meaningless, little ones that will eventually be our undoing. Weakness, just like strength, grows over time. It is only by repeating small, correct choices, over and over again, that will ultimately make you unbreakable. I talked about this a bit in my “It's not that bad” post. Will that one drink, cupcake, day off, etc., really affect you negatively in your fight? Probably not. But when we let those small weaknesses creep into our lives, before we know it, we are a shell's of the person we once were.
There is an old Cherokee parable that says, “There is a fight going on between two wolves inside of every one. One good, one evil. Which one will win? The one you feed.”
We all have moments where we want to quit. The problem is that most people quit, or ease back, when they're in training, when things are easy, and then think that they will magically pull it all together once it's fight time. Really, that's what you believe? My old trainer used to say, “You need to be 100% in the gym that way you can be 75% in the ring.” What he meant by that was you need to give it everything you have while you can because once you are in there all bets are off. There's only so much that we can control when it comes to fighting. I've always been the type of person that wants to make all the things I have some control over, which are very few, as perfect as possible. I have control over how hard I train, I have control over how strict I am on my diet, I have control over whether or not I slack off and go out partying when I feel like it, etc. So many things can go wrong come fight day, particularly once you're in there, that are out of your hands. Wouldn't you want to make everything else as perfect as possible? I don't kill myself day in and day out for when everything goes right. I do it for when everything goes wrong. That way my 50% is better than your 100%.
We all have weakness inside of us; even those who you think are the strongest. I don't care who you are, you will go through times of doubt and sometimes those doubts will get the best of you. But, it's not about whether these things will happen; it's about how you act when they do. Dust yourself off and get back in there. Just remember it doesn't come down to making one big right decision, it's about consistently making seemingly insignificant ones over and over again.
If all else fails just remember, “Don't act like a bitch” and everything else will work itself out.