#TeamSelfSabotage

I can be a bit of a princess and self-sabotage a lot of good things in my life in an attempt to “protect” myself based on past experiences (cue childhood trauma and other trauma generally). I’d say a lot of people do this to be honest. One of my girlfriends pointed out a few ex-boyfriends that are now loving husbands, but I cut them off or didn’t invest because of the “what ifs” that put me off. Another girlfriend pointed out how I am addicted to doing the most (cue all the crazy milestones and goals I have to date) because I attach most of my value to my achievements and productivity – I can see why this is slightly toxic because I get annoyed at people around me who aren’t “doing the most” either. I think I get this from my mother who is a workaholic in her workplace and at home.

Anyway, I really want to liberate myself from some of these problematic thoughts or beliefs that I generally hold, so I don’t shoot myself in the foot when I’m trying to shoot my shot – in my relationships (romantic and platonic), career, health and in life.

Below is a list of some of the self-limiting thoughts I want to work on; all this from a few nights reflection on some of the behaviours I thought were toxic – that’s a more personal discussion that I won’t share.

I’ve read a little bit about cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and other therapies that can help with tackling thoughts/behaviours that just don’t serve a purpose anymore – but maybe once used to. I used to see a therapist for specific matters but am trying a bit of self-help CBT and I don’t want to dedicate time to seeing a therapist atm. TBH – the most value I got from her were the questions she asked me when I presented her with a situation or problem I was facing. And the real learning about myself came from the reflection I did on my own, in my own time, after that question, not the time we spent during the one hour session together. Regardless, she was a gem, but I’m attempting to question myself a lot more instead this year rather than booking in with my therapist – not as an attack on my integrity or confidence, but just a quicker way of self-improvement and tackling #selfsabotage

Romantic relationships:

  • I can’t find someone I trust to be emotionally invested and vulnerable with
    • If I’m emotionally invested and vulnerable with my friends, I can find a partner just the same
  • I’m scared of being hurt or deceived again
    • I’m smart enough to use my mind and heart to confront any red flags with integrity, before getting hurt or lied to
  • I can’t find someone who will be emotionally available for me
    • My friends are just as busy with their careers as I am, the right person who is interested enough in me will make time for me in their busy life
  • I don’t trust my decisions with love because of what has happened in the past
    • I trust myself enough to get to know someone long enough with my head and heart to make the right choice

For the romantic relationships that didn’t last, I noticed a trend in what I liked about those people. My first serious boyfriend, it was his confidence, something I didn’t think I had a lot of at the time. I’ve now developed enough confidence that I feel like I have that quality within myself. My second boyfriend, it was his charisma, charm and how he stood up to me. He was able to connect with a range of people and wasn’t shy with sharing his own opinion. I’m now at a point in my life where I think I have that more or less. And finally, the last serious relationship that didn’t work out, I admired his love and dedication for his family. I’m still sour over that one ending because I hoped it would be my last romantic relationship, but anyway, I’m working on building this quality within my own life, which I’m happy to say, is improving a lot.

I like the positive elements of being in a long-term committed relationship. Despite my previous relationships ending for several reasons (the unhealthy ones – because of cheating or deception; the good ones – because of my emotional baggage and just didn’t “connect”), I enjoy having someone to share lots of moments with and someone to count on – in a healthy relationship. I also like how a partner acts as a mirror. How I am with a partner reflects aspects of myself that I sometimes can’t see and amplify inner growth and learning. It’s the complete opposite in an unhealthy relationship – the worst parts of myself were reflected and amplified in a past toxic relationship. There was still learning, but with unnecessary flow-on emotional baggage.

Familial relationships:

  • Some family trauma is so deep for close family members that some familial relationships will never heal
    • People’s perspective and positions can change
  • I haven’t been the best sister I could have been growing up
    • I can start being a better sister now

There may be fewer goals than my romantic ones but, these ones are quite big.

With my sister, we have a 10 year age gap. This always made it interesting spending time together, but usually it would be at home baking/cooking, watching a movie or just hanging out at the beach/park. Sometimes we would go to the movies, the mall, an event or a theatre show (yes I took her to some – because I thought she would do good in the arts and had a curious enough mind to explore emotions), so I think I spent a decent amount of time with her.

I would put pressure on her a lot in high school to achieve as high as she could but she had “checked” out for several reasons (some of which I don’t blame her for at all). I’ve given in to the fact that I was projecting on her, because of some of the ridiculous standards I hold myself to. I think she’s problematic with a lot of things going on in her life at the moment, but regardless, I try and give her my well-intentioned opinion when she asks. She’s turning into an adult after all and her choices should be respected, even if I think it’s wrong. From my projections, telling-offs and high standards, I just hope that I haven’t added to the childhood trauma she may/may not have suffered. What I hope for her, is that she just becomes a person of good character and values in life; treats the people around her with the care and love that we have given her for the most part (I have the same outlook if I were to raise children one day and try to apply the same care-taking process with the relationships/friendships around me).

With the family trauma, this is around a complex set of relationships each reacting to the others around it. And I haven’t taken any time to reflect on what positions each of these people are probably coming from – which is probably the first task, and then trying to make sense of what people actually want and seeing what resolutions might be available (it doesn’t help that people don’t always know what they want either – myself included). I haven’t confronted or made any moves regarding this space in my life because the pain was still raw for most, but I think this year is a good time to begin having some open, constructive and challenging conversations in this area; I hope those conversations can mend relationships or open hearts a bit more. I know I’ve already had one that is positive.

Because I have a beautiful and strong friend network/sisterhood, that I’ll continue to invest in, I think it’s only fair that I give as much time to this family as I do to that – because my family deserve that attention and care, for the same that they’ve given to me. It’s going to be an uphill trail run is all.

Health, work-life balance and wellbeing:

  • My body isn’t designed for particular activities
    • My body will adapt to what activities I want it to do, with consistent attention
  • I don’t have time to get fit
    • I have time for what I prioritise and so I just need better time management & to cut off the fluff
  • I should be working instead of working out
    • Working out gives me a clearer mind for work and the extra blood flow definitely gives me a lot more focus – integral to making me a better advocate
  • I should be focusing on my career and financial goals and taking a break is selfish
    • I need an occasional break (with and without people sometimes) and need to enjoy not just endure life – just a little lol

I don’t even want to go into how much of a workaholic I am. My friend constantly says I fit 87 things into my day, even when others are involved and… she’s not wrong at all. All of my close friends can attest to how I’ve been over an hour late to some social engagement because I was finishing up something else just before seeing them. Or failing to attend at all because I came down with a headache or was too tired after doing everything else before seeing them. I say I want to aim for a lot more balance in the next year but the reality of my move to Whangarei is that is a big fat no. My work-life balance will be non-existent for the next 2 – 3 years (if I can stay up here for that amount of time) which I’m ok with, it’ll just mean that I have to take my breaks alongside the workload ebb and flow. As for the goals around being ‘fit for purpose’, I want to do a lot of different walks/hikes on my future travels so conditioning and being cardio-fit is the aim this year. It’ll be great for if I ever want to do another fight (probably not anytime soon with this mahi) and for future diving experiences (I plan on getting my diving certificate this year so I want to make sure my lungs are big, happy and healthy for that). So far, my routine has been good enough that I can get moving consistently – I haven’t struck the balance I want yet, but we’re getting there.

Career:

  • I’ll never be as competent as others around me, particularly the white male lawyers
    • See the last point – this one is definitely positioned in my identity as a Polynesian female
  • I do not have enough experience
    • I have enough smarts to be strategic for the job right now and learn the intricacies as I go along
  • I don’t belong in this profession because I’m a little too different
    • I shouldn’t minimise the value I offer – I belong because I offer a unique perspective

I’m grateful for these beliefs up until this point in my life, they’ve managed to keep me safe and get me to this not-so-bad point in life thus far. But it’s time to bid farewell.

It was a bit of a profound moment when I questioned why I was so fearful about how stupid I felt when comparing my opinions to other white male lawyers/professionals. I think I have a lot of work to do on this belief that might not be done within 12 months or any specific time frame – but I know I’m hyperaware of it now. I always felt it when trying to bring my ideas and opinions up, which were sometimes validated by that demographic but never specifically identified it as a pattern. It happened when I was at uni and my first few jobs. That’s all I’ll say on that for now but I’m looking forward to exploring why I feel/think that way as I think it’ll be a major personal development point.

Calm mind, quick hands

This year I wanted to do a corporate fight. Initially, I wanted to do it to see how much I could push my body to perform the way I wanted it to (within the timeframe I had). After having a heart procedure 2 years ago and inching closer to 30, I’ve wanted to push myself physically (as a way of celebrating a now-properly-functioning heart! My GP thinks I’m nuts) and to test my courage and will.

Anyway, I set myself up for the second half of the year so that for 16 weeks I could participate in a boxing camp. I signed up because I had seen posts about it on facebook and thought the fundraiser was for a good cause.

I was tested physically and mentally over the 15 weeks. I didn’t expect the camp to be as transformative as it was. I ate as clean as I could (real/whole foods and not processed) while still eating some of my favourite foods for sanity and sometimes laziness. I managed to still have a quiet social-life but centred my week around training sessions and minor Court appearances/duties. I would say I trained on average between 7 – 8 hours most weeks. This meant doing some sessions twice a day and resting on one day. Not getting knocked out was at the forefront of my mind during the lead-up, which dictated what I ate and how I spent my time.

I fundraised, I sweat up a storm and I got smacked around several times. However, this has been one of the best experiences I’ve had in life so far.

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The 15 weeks literally felt like a crash course in boxing – I wish I had been boxing for months before that, but I hadn’t. So I made an effort to try balance my work alongside making more than the requisite 3 training sessions per week. On the off-session, I would go for a run or do a HIIT based workout to increase my cardio-fitness (where I could muster it in). All in preparation to perform in 3 x 1.5-minute rounds. I got to spend more time with my dad and friends who helped do pad work with me, so I could work on my agility, faking and defence. After having my first few sessions of sparring, I had to keep my routine tight to prepare effectively.

I couldn’t really help myself being meek in the first few weeks. Firstly, the neuro-programming of this type of body-language is foreign to me and my character. I’m not an offensive person by nature – well, at least I don’t know myself to be unless challenged or when someone I love is being hurt. I’ve always played defence in sports and have been generally good at it. Secondly, it takes me a while to warm up to people. Thirdly, I also didn’t know what the f**k I was doing technically for a little while. For the first 5 weeks we trained together under Daniella Smith then the remainder of the camp with Terry Batchelor (Coach to Geovana Peres, Troy Garton, Roi Ransfield, and many other greats).

It was hard not to be starstruck during training sessions. Geovana gave me some pointers, laughed as she could tell I was still learning this boxing body-language and I was both angry I didn’t get the movement properly/quickly enough, but also grateful af that she gave me guidance.

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There were three points during the camp where I seriously considered dropping out. The first was not being used to particular teaching styles. It definitely took a little getting used to in the earliest stages.

The second moment was due to a health scare. My GP told me I was stupid for wanting to participate in a corporate fight because of my previous heart condition. His lecture made me consider dropping out entirely, because he made it seem like I might end up dying in the ring if my opponent punching me in the chest causing an arrhythmia.

The final moment was when I was emotionally and mentally drained 2 weeks out from fight night. The coach for the other team had asked me to drop approximately 2 – 3 kgs to make sure I was matched with my opponent by weigh-in the night before the fight. I was on the brink of junioring for a sex-offence trial (which ended up resolving on day 2) and I was applying for jobs (secured a new job out of town within that week). All while still making it to training, eating clean and aiming to get my 7ish hours of sleep per night. I was exhausted and wanted a break. I cut the weight (water loading – totally new world to me but one of the girls from the gym knew all the tricks) and pushed through the week until weigh-in. I ended up being 81.5 kgs.

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Boxing humbles you faster than team sports in my opinion – because you can’t lie about your weaknesses or preparation. You don’t have a backup player to help you execute the phase or take the ball down the court or field. Everything is on display in that ring for your coach, the opponent, and the audience to see i.e. everything you did and didn’t prepare for. It is literally all you. That’s it.

A week before my match I watched Geovana Peres live and some of the boys from the gym and their corporate fights. It’s hard not to be inspired seeing them all in the ring win all their matches. But Geo was the most inspiring. To witness that passion and dedication perform at top level is… Unbelievable. The moment is truly ceremonious and humbling to be a part of.

More people than I expected came to watch my fight, which I was both flattered by and anxious about. While you’re in the ring though, everything outside those four corners is a blur.

The night took a while because I was the last corporate fight. I took to the ring at 10:30 pm. Our team had some great wins and some close losses. I won by technical knockout in the third round which the referee called. I was thrilled to have so much support from my extended family, close family, friends and even my boss and colleagues/other seniors. It was a big mashup of social circles and emotions.

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Regardless of the result, it was the process/journey that I enjoyed the most. I can genuinely say I gave the training and prep my all (not being a full-time fighter and balancing it alongside work). Highlights included:

  • Improving my agility (something I’ve missed since giving up netball);
  • Learning how to spar and sparring – I freaked the first time, but I actually enjoy this now, when I’m not tired;
  • Boxing out of the same studio as some current female champions;
  • Making new friends and nurturing a friendship along the way;
  • Spending time with my Dad doing pad work;
  • Building a shit-load of confidence;
  • And physical fitness of course.

The top three mental elements I nurtured, that I want to apply to my life in general:

  • Fearlessness;
  • Keeping calm during the discomfort (be it physical or mental);
  • Mastering the basics of your craft.

I learned and am still learning how to control my nerves. An interesting result from this journey as well is that it has abated my imposter syndrome somewhat; or at least minimised it. I.e. if I have done the work and am competent to do a particular activity, I should not have crippling anxiety over performing said activity – just the normal amount of nervousness with doing something for the first time in front of an audience.

I’m grateful to everyone that helped out along the way and am happy to say that I’ve continued boxing training. I’m not sure I would do another fight because I want to focus on my career a little more next year with my new role – but I wouldn’t say no in future if I was in the right place to train towards it.

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