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Struggle with Emotional Lows and Co-dependency - How to Build Self-confidence

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Im struggling a lot over self-confidence and being emotional run down.

For most parts of my life Im a really self-confident person. I travelled all over the world and never had anyone telling me what I can or can't do. I just went my own way and if things didn't add up any more I quit, moved somewhere else or tried to work it out.

It was never in particular running away, but probably a little.

When I took up training I did it for the sake of fun, never with the intention to start fighting. I have never been a sporty person in particulary, though I always did all sorts of outdoor sports, Im just too heavy to be athletic by nature.


My will to fight changed when I started training in a professional gym n whcih I got pushed hard and I started believing in myself. My coaches would never praise me, but they would train you in a way that you trust yourself. Though I always went through daily emtional highs and lows, usually crying after training coz I felt so bad.

However I always felt safe with my coach, if he would say run, I run, if he would say jump out that window I would have jumped, that much I trusted him.

After I left that gym I put matters in my own hands, training in different places, training a lot for myself additionally.

I felt good and quite self-confident, as long as my fitness was up and running.

However lately I started doubting myself again heavily. Last summer I trained with a different coach (due to yet another move) and he is quite technical coming from a boxing background, I was never good enough for anything and it slowly got myself down again. Before entering the ring before a fight he would tell ne how slow I am and that I needed to twist this and that anymore, than I started thinking about it, because I want to please and make it right, thats when I lost. again again, but always in my mind first, because I wanted to get my technique right, he completely tried to changed my fight style. I did take a lot out of it, but it is not the way I fight. It all led to cancelling a fight 2 weeks ago because I didnt get all the training in I wanted, though deep down I know I could have easily stepped into the ring even without having worked on the bags or did any sparring. My fitness was ok and I could have done it. Only my head led me down.

After my last loss in February I took up mental training, one Emma recommended in one of her blog posts, but this is a much deeper issue.

I always needed someone in my back to trust in me, not to necessarily to tell me, but to cover up my back.

I adore people who dont need that, who can just jump into a fight without the preperation Im used to.


are there more people out there like this?

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Hi Freddy,

Sorry you have been feeling low about your work. I've watched Sylvie closely for not only the three years here, but all her years in Muay Thai and I've come to think that the fighter's burden, the fighter's path is all about confidence, feeling it, displaying it, recovering from its loss. How to build genuine confidence and maintain it? Even fighters who exude confidence I think often have precarious confidence, something a losing streak or a bad loss can easily shake. Fighters are always walking such a line, pushing themselves to fatigue, paying so close attention to their imperfections, experiencing make-or-break events (fights). I'll tell you everything changed for Sylvie after a really bad loss and she decided to start mental training. She bought tapes. Listened to them. Did the work, and the results were pretty amazing. One of the things it made her aware of was how often she was negatively tearing herself down, in private, and how to work to change that.

I will say that getting with a coach who wants to change your fighting style, and rebuild everything can be really problematic, especially when that style may not suit you. Many coaches will teach what they themselves know, or think in cookie-cutter shapes. Sylvie was pushed into a fighting style that just didn't suit her over and over by many people because she is small and female, and it resulted in her beating herself up, very concerned with trying to please people, over-sensitive to her failings. It wasn't until we identified her fighting style, and that there was such a style in Muay Thai (things she naturally did well and excelled in) and then even made the location move to get instruction that supported that style, did we get on a more positive path. Before that it always felt we were working against the grain. It's good of course to expand yourself, explore techniques or elements that are not natural to your comfort zone, but its a fine line. So I'm not saying that if a coach wants to change your fighting style its a bad thing. But I do think that when it comes to strengths and weaknesses some people are better suited for certain ways of fighting, and others not. And because fighting styles are very deep arts - you can train in a style for a very long time and not have really bottomed out on what it can teach - it seems best to stick with the vocabulary of an approach you feel that expresses YOU.

She wrote this post when we finally realized she had to pursue a different style, something that led us to move to Pattaya.

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I'm sorry you're feeling down on yourself, Freddy. But I don't think there's anything wrong with you, but definitely wrong with your thinking. You can push and push in training, be so tough and strong and do all the work, but if you doubt yourself or don't believe in yourself it's like doing all that work with the "emergency brake" (die Notbremse) on in the car. You can put the pedal to the floor and you'll barely move.

But the thing is that you've had that confidence before - you've been there - so you have a blueprint of what that feels like and how to get back there. It's very difficult when you don't have trust with your coach but you just have to realize and accept that it's harder on your own, but not impossible.

It took me a really long time to figure out what exactly makes me feel confident. I had no control over it; I just had good days and bad days but had no understanding of what caused it to go one way or the other. And I still don't fully have a grasp of it, but I can fake it on days I don't feel it. That sounds like you're just "acting" and it's not real confidence, but here's the thing: confidence isn't a feeling, it's a behavior. And you don't always have to feel confident to act confident. How would you respond when you were confident, with your old coach? If you were tired and not turning on your kicks, how would a confident Freddy respond to that? Then do that.  For me, I laugh when I'm confident. So when I'm not feeling it and when I feel like I'm totally crap at training, I try to laugh at myself - actually out loud. Sometimes I can't even crack a smile, even though I know it will help, but when I can act the way I would act if I were confident, I can feel it creep back.

I try to take myself out of it because I can be so hard on myself, it just becomes a downward spiral if I use my own self as the target, saying things in my head like, "why aren't you ____?" Whatever. So instead I think: a confident person wouldn't let that mistake change her mood. A confident person would acknowledge it and move on. A confident person would make a joke about it. A confident person wouldn't let the coach's micro-criticisms affect her flow. Not, "I shouldn't let the coach's criticisms get me down," but "a confident person would take a note of the criticisms and then go in to fight." Because you can fight whether you turn on your damn punches or not.

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I haven't fought. Not yet. It's my next goal. But, that being said, I constantly doubt my capabilities. And it's not just in training. It's work, too. I'm so used to someone (literally) yelling at me telling me I'm doing something wrong or half assed, that no feedback and positive feedback I tend not to trust, which in turn relates back to me not trusting myself. And unfortunately it shows in my constant hesitation to do something I know I am capable of doing.


I'm not 100% that I am understanding exactly what you're writing about, but if it's similar to what I described, the constant self doubt, the only thing I can tell you is to stop thinking and just do. Let your body do its thing. You know how to do it, you know what to do, it comes down to (in my opinion and experience) a brain switch. Your focus (again, IMO) should be on doing what you love. Whether training or fighting or fitness. Can't let coaches get in into your head so far that their voice becomes yours. It's like that with any situation where there's one person who is over another. Coaches are there to coach. NOT become your conscience.

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Hi Freddy

"No (wo)man is an island" the quote goes...

In Stephen Covey's book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People he talks about three stages of growth - dependence, independence, and interdependence. Interdependence being the highest level of growth. It recognises that we perform our best when we are in a team, not by ourselves.

I don't think you need to do it by yourself... reading between the lines, I just think you need a different coach, a different team.

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  • 2 months later...

The greatest coaches don't force you to change your style - they adapt what they teach you to fit your style and strengths. 

The greatest coaches do not break your confidence down, they find ways to build your confidence up. 

At the end of the day, we all seek some form of validation, but it's important to pick who to seek from. 

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