What is self-esteem and what does it have to do with martial arts? Basically, self-esteem is how you feel about yourself (or a feeling of pride in oneself). Do you have a positive opinion of yourself? What do you think about yourself (are you worthy)? What type of person do you think you are? How much do you like and admire the person that you have truly become? These are all questions we ask ourselves subconsciously. One thing we know is that self-esteem plays a very important role in determining our own happiness.
The key to gauging your self-esteem is to determine the difference between your "ideal self" and your "actual self." We all have a vision of the kind of person we think we should be. This is how we see ourselves "ideally." For example, you may picture your ideal self as physically fit, successful, confident, with high morals and strong values. You see yourself as having positive relationships with your family, friends, and co-workers -- people looking up to you and admiring you for your excellent qualities. You like to see yourself as kind, compassionate and caring. Someone who sets important goals and sticks to them (discipline). You are admired by the people around you because you are a leader and can be trusted to stick to your word. We develop this vision of our ideal self through our role models (people we actually know -- or those we are exposed to in the media, entertainment - whether real or fiction). Our feeling of self-esteem is determined by the difference (gap) between our "ideal self" and our "actual self." The closer we are to our ideal self - the better we feel (and the happier we are). As the gap begins to widen, we begin to feel bad about ourselves and are consequently less happy.
The reason martial arts can have such a positive effect on self-esteem is because it is the pursuit of personal development and growth! This is true regardless of whether you are an adult or a child. First, martial arts progress is measured around the belt-promotion system. By its very nature, you are continually setting new goals and progressing toward their completion. Setting and achieving ones goals is an important part of self-esteem. Martial arts training is a physical activity that helps to promote fitness, fat loss, strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, posture, coordination, and athleticism. At Allen Park Martial Arts Center, we encourage the development of positive values and life skills as well: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit (a spirit that cannot be broken). We also strive to build self-confidence through expanding our knowledge, honesty toward ourselves and others, and through having a strong body - capable of standing up to life's challenges and threats from others. We do this while going out of our way to help and encourage everyone in our classes as we treat each other with respect and kindness -- and lots and lots of praise and encouragement. All of these pursuits leads us to become closer to our "ideal selves!"
The New Year is an important time to set personal goals and commit to their achievement! What are your New Year's resolutions? I bet many of them are specific proclamations of ways that you vow to become a better you! Whether you know it or not - your resolutions are a way for you to take steps to become closer and closer to your "ideal self," knowing that those pursuits will make you feel better about yourself (self-esteem) -- and ultimately a happier person!
Resolve to come to class in 2013! Set lofty goals for yourself (or re-commit to the ones you have already made). Share your goals with us at Allen Park Martial Arts Center - so we can help you to achieve them. You will be an even better person for it!!!
Kevin M. Hurlahe is President of Martial Arts Centers Inc. "Master Kevin" is the head master instructor of Allen Park Martial Arts Center in Allen Park Michigan.