It is very difficult to improve upon an aspect of our life that we do not first acknowledge as being in need of improvement.
There is not much motivation to change what seems to be working for us. This is true with regards to our beliefs, our character, or our relationships. Unless we perceive a problem, we tend to keep believing, behaving, and interacting in the same way almost indefinitely.
This is why having other people in our lives who hold us accountable for our mistakes is so important. If we do not have people around us who are comfortable telling us when we are wrong, in a way that we actually hear and accept what they say, we run the risk of staying wrong for a very, very long time. It is far too easy to perceive ourselves as being right when no one says otherwise.
As important as people who hold us accountable are, without the willingness to improve on the things that are pointed out as being problems, it is all for nought. If prejudice, obstinance, or denial prevent us from taking constructive feedback from the people around us, we put ourselves in a position wherein we are in a constant state of conflict with, not only the people who care about us enough to tell us where and why we should change, but also with our own growth and potential.
Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.
Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.
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