Relationship Jiu-Jitsu

I’ve practiced Jiu-Jitsu, particularly the Brazillian discipline for a while. I’m on a break right now, for a number of reasons, the least of which being the Pandemic, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t life lessons to be learned from the art.

Recently I’ve been thinking about relationship lessons I can learn. One of my favorite warm-ups is called Flow Rolling. It’s not fast, or aggressive, but you pair up, and each member of the pair takes turns slowly trying a series of moves, their partner gives a little resistance, but only enough to make it work, and at some point, they’ll take over, and the other partner will focus on resistance. It’s slow and methodical, and there is a push and pull to it. One partner goes at 55%, and the other at 45% and then they swap. Back and forth, back and forth.

Relationships are like that. If you’re both going at 100%, you’re going to burn out, but when you’re pushing and pulling, you develop a rhythm and it flows.
Vectoring off that, I’ve been thinking about training. If one partner is training, and the other is just laying there, then the active partner will get to practice the fundamentals of a move.

The thing is, a lot of moves don’t work without some resistance to feed off, and at some point, the practice becomes essentially useless. In order to improve you need to face increasing difficulty and resistance.

That’s how relationships work, you both need to grow, and you both need to help the other grow. It’s a dance, where both of you improve as individuals. If only one of you is practicing, and the other is just lying there passively, at some point you reach the inevitable point where growth ceases, and then, what’s the point?

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Opposing Voices

“Are you going running?”

The question broke the silence of the darkened room. Suddenly, I could hear the rain on the window, feel the chill in the air, and started thinking about my restless night.

My alarm had gone off at 4:50, and it was a struggle to get up and moving. I had to do it before the other alarm in the next room went off at 4:55. I set my schedule last night. Get up, brush my teeth, get dressed, and go running. Don’t think about it; do it.

And I hadn’t thought about it. I was doing it.

Until the question, and then all the voices in my head started talking at once. “Yeah, but I don’t want to”, I responded.

I followed with, “I’m having a struggle, and I just need to do this.”

I silenced the voices, put on my shoes, and got back to the plan.

The run was tough, but the rain was beautiful, and I checked the running box off when I got home.

It’s the little voice in my head that got me back on track with my daily schedule, and it was the voices in my head that almost tanked it again in the wee hours of this morning.

Being Kranky

My kids are starting their Christmas celebrations early this year, and I’m completely on-board. November 1st began our Christmas Movie schedule with Christmas with the Kranks. It’s a movie I really like, but I got really depressed and pissed off after I watched it last night.

Tim Allen’s character spends most of the movie planning a fun, romantic vacation for him and his wife. His wife is kinda on board, but as soon as they encounter any resistance, she turns on him. The movie culminates with them having to cancel the trip, and his wife, and the neighborhood pretty much shit all over him and his stupid plans.

Now, it’s just a movie, and given the limited time, there is only so much space for character development, but I felt an affinity for Mr. Krank. He’s not perfect. His staunch rejection of all celebrating isn’t a path I would take, and I’d agree there is some selfishness there. However, I admire his determination in the pursuit of his goals, even while everyone else poo poo’s his plans.

They end up not taking the vacation, and it’s the right choice given the circumstances, but I felt his pain.

It’s tough trying to follow your dreams when people shit on you. Especially when they’re people who should be supporting and encouraging you.

I need to find a circle of people who fan my flames.

Datasets and Data-Based Decisions

I started listening to a podcast a few weeks back, hosted by someone with very different political leanings than I have. The content isn’t political, but his views seep into the conversation. I really enjoy his content, but the politics were difficult to listen to, at first. It’s gotten easier though.

I used to have very similar beliefs to his though. And as I’ve listened to him, I’ve realized that I’d probably still have those same views, if I was basing them on the same data.

He and I use different datasets to make our decisions, and that realization has made me question some of my beliefs, as it should. Unfortunately, I don’t know the answers to some of the questions that arise from that discovery… Or rather, I now have the good fortune to investigate my beliefs and why I hold them even more.

That is a pretty great gift to receive!

Smarter Investment Choices

I introduced my youngest son to the magic that is a Tool concert last night.

And by magic, I mean religion. Tool definitely ranks as one of the best live shows I’ve seen, and they didn’t disappoint.

The last time I saw them was 7 years or so back, at the E-center in Utah. On that occasion, I didn’t wear ear protection, and my ears rang for a week. Last night I wore earplugs.

Unfortunately, I’ve instilled in my son the idea that life is about transactions. Everything you do has a price, and you need to weigh up whether the time, money, potential damage, etc. is worth it.

I guess he wanted the full experience last night and left his earplugs in his pocket.

I don’t think last night was as loud as the previous concert, and he’s not regretting his decision this morning.

I too am not regretting my decision.

I think we both made good investments!

Stockpiling Emotion

Continuing with the book I’m listening too. This morning, Brene was talking about unhealthy ways of dealing with emotion. Number 4 is stockpiling. You take the negative emotions, and you push them down. Deep, deep, deep down, and you don’t let them come out.

At some point your body says, either you quick stockpiling, or I’m going to shut you down… “And your body always wins!”

Your body reacts with anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other symptoms.


So, as I continue my daily journal writing habit, I’m going to be adding a daily check-in on my emotional state, and I’m going to adopt Meg Ryan’s advice from French Kiss.

“Express! Don’t Repress”

Trust is Built in Small Moments

I’ve been listening to a couple of books recently on Audible. One of them is Dare to Lead by Brene Brown.

Currently, in my journey, she’s discussing feedback, and our tendency to shine the spotlight on others, especially in areas where we need some work.

The phrase which really caught my attention this morning, was “Trust is built in small moments”. She talked about setting personal boundaries and building up trust in yourself.

It dove-tailed well with a quote I read yesterday by Rob Reiner.

“Everybody talks about wanting to change things and help and fix, but ultimately all you can do is fix yourself. And that’s a lot. Because if you can fix yourself, it has a ripple effect.”

If It’s Good, Just Say It

Some people said some really nice things to me over the past weekend. On Saturday, someone I’d just met said they thought it was rather handsome. It was a little weird and awkward, but I really appreciated it.

Yesterday I got to spend some time with my uncle.

If you’ve followed my blog in the past, you know that I have a very complicated relationship with my parents. I have the utmost respect for my parents and how they’ve raised me, but unfortunately, their religious views and how they apply them to our relationship have created a situation where it’s better that we don’t talk.

I’ve remarked in the past, and I did yesterday, that at the top of my list of wishes is a call from my dad saying… Hey! Wanna grab a beer and talk about life? And my uncle remarked that I’d probably settle for a milkshake or something, and he’s right.

But that wasn’t what really made the impact yesterday.

Last night over dinner, he told me how proud of me he thought my dad would be and listed a couple of reasons why.

I think he’s probably right, and as I’ve been thinking about it since, and kinda tearing up now… I’m hoping to learn to see myself the way my uncle sees me.

We’re not as kind to ourselves as we should be, and we judge ourselves harsher than almost anyone else.

And for that reason, it’s good to have outside voices that build us up and help to reframe our view of ourselves in a positive light.

So, if you catch someone doing something good, or notice something good, let them know you’ve seen it. You’ll have more impact than you could possibly imagine.

Grappling with Relationships

In my spare time, I train as a martial artist. My art of choice is Tang Soo Do, but along the way, I’ve dabbled in various other arts including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which involves grappling and submission techniques.

BJJ – the art of folding clothes while the other person is still in them.

There are lots of things that can be said about Jiu-Jitsu, but I’ve found it to be the perfect metaphor for relationships, especially from the perspective of training.

If you’re training with an equal partner, there will be times you push and they’ll pull, and sometimes they’ll push and you pull. There is a flow and a pattern to it, and when done properly you help each other improve.

When one of you stops pushing or pulling, you lose that flow.

And no-one gets better.

On Solving Problems

Most of the effort that you put into solving problems is identifying them precisely and thoroughly.

You can start solving problems before you fully understand them, but chances are, you’re going to run into additional problems along the way, or end up solving things that don’t need to be solved.

Worst case, you end up making the problem worse.