Enemies Along the Road: 7 ways to fight back against frustration and disapointment.

We have an idea of how we want our live’s to be and sometimes when those ideals seem far away or out of reach, frustration and disappointment creep in. These invisible enemies of frustration and disappointment hide along the paths we travel in pursuit of our most important endeavors. When they attack, fight back! Here are 7 tips for spiritual self-defense. 

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  1. Review your progress.  Take stock in the fact that you’ve set a goal.  Knowing that you want to make a change is a significant step forward.
  2. The path to realizing your objective is not a straight line.  Think of how we walk, drive, or ride a bike. Most of the time is spent making subtle corrections to keep you aligned with where you want to go.  Stop lights, slower traffic, and other obstacles will be in your path. Patience and perseverance will see you through.
  3. Break big dreams into smaller goals.  Losing 30 pounds is a project. Break that project into smaller, behavior driven goals.  I will strength train 3 times this week for a minimum of 45 minutes. Schedule it and track it.  You must measure your progress in order to manage your progress.Screen Shot 2018-07-17 at 12.45.54 PM
  4. Develop an attitude of appreciation.  Start with the small stuff.  The small stuff IS the big stuff.  In the morning and the evening take a moment to note 3 things you are grateful for and be specific.  That warm conversation you had with a loved one, a refreshing walk at the Nature Center, the healthy meal you just ate.  Take a moment to reflect on the wonders of the daily moments.  They are only ordinary if you don’t pay attention to them.
  5.  Reward yourself and plan something to look forward to.   If you know you are going to be upping your workout routine, tightening your budget, or eating more nutritiously,  reward yourself with a massage, an inexpensive day out or a healthy but tasty fruit smoothie.  Find something within your new discipline that makes you feel good and is in alignment with your pursuit.
  6.  Ask for help and give help.  Asking for help doesn’t always mean finding a mentor in person.  Find role models that have achieved what you are seeking to achieve.  Read their books, blogs, and watch their videos.  Become inspired.  Seek others that are on the same path and create a dialog about overcoming challenges.  Read, grow, learn, it’s a lifelong practice.  Realize that you too have something to offer.  Everyone is a role model for someone.  Never underestimate the good that can come by stepping out of your own head and your own problems to help another achieve their goals.  That’s the kind of fulfillment that becomes fuel for your own journey and reminds you to keep going.
  7. Re-connect with the deep psychological desire at the root of your goal.  Your goal isn’t really just about making more money, losing weight, having a more fulfilling relationship, or earning your Black Belt, it’s about being a happier healthier person.  It’s about joy, passion and having a goal worth pursuing because it makes you a better person through the striving for it.   Why do you want to lose that weight, get that new job or deepen your relationship? Connect the goal with something real and how you’ll feel.  You want more career success so you can have less stress, more time with your family, more security? You want to lose that weight so you can look good (it’s ok to say it!)  live longer, do more, date with confidence?


Goals are a means to achieve a higher state of being.  The real trick is you can create that state right now. Feel successful, more healthy, more confident, less stressed, right now.  Cultivate that awareness of being fit in your mind FIRST and then guide your choices and actions to align with that self-concept.  Keep at it.  Just like driving you will begin to drift off course, get lost, or stuck in traffic.  Make the necessary course corrections.  By facing those obstacles, with grace, poise, perseverance, and awareness they become the means of achievement.  The obstacles are the sharpening stone of your mind-sword.  They are the practice.  Accept them, understand them and use them to live an extraordinary life.


Junior Jiu Jitsu Justice: Bullying Incident- A 6 year old faces off against an aggressive bully.

  A  6 year old faces off against an aggressive bully.

I teach martial arts to children and adults and often come across these stories of violence and retaliation. The purpose of our school is not to teach violence as a means of conflict resolution but kids do fight. For parents we are often split on how we want to teach our children to respond to violence. Many of us have memories of being harassed, threatened or injured by other children so part of us may want to teach our kids to stand their ground, fight back, punch that bully in the nose. This often is not the best solution and leads to more problems, with the other parents involved, the education system and even legally. On the other side we want to teach non-violent conflict resolution,  arming our kids with; communication skills , awareness, empathy, compassion and reason. Let’s teach talking before tackling.


Unfortunately, there are so many situations that are in between. As the father of the child in this incident told me, he was conflicted upon hearing how his 6 year old son recently retaliated against a bully’s aggression. On the one hand he was glad that his son stood up for himself on the other he doesn’t want to teach his son that fighting is the best way to deal with conflict. As a father myself, I want my son to have the physical skills to escape or takedown anyone who might lay a hand on him but to use every available skill to resolve the conflict without violence. It’s a double edged sword.

This is an incident that recently happened to one of our 6 year old students. I have adjusted some of the details to include similar situations from other students past to bring to light the complex nature of violence and bullying among children.

Our little ninja (let’s call him Tommy)  was out on the playground playing with friends when one of the bigger more aggressive kids began to single him out.  He verbally harassed him and teased him, trying to get a rise out of him. As per our student’s training he attempted to move to a different part of the playground.  He told the bully to back off and that he wasn’t interested. He walked away. Then he was pushed.  He told the aggressor to stop and the bully pushed him again or rather attempted as Tommy had stepped back into his self-defense stance and had some distance and time to respond, he side stepped and tackled the bigger kid to the ground. He then moved into a position of advantage, straddling the bully in the top mount position and held him down.  The bully struggled but didn’t know how to free himself. From there Tommy  began to ask the bully if he was done yet. The bully defiantly replied “no.” So after a bit of more unsuccessful struggling to free himself, Tommy asked the bully again, “Are you done yet?” At that point the exhausted bully began to plead, “Get off of me.” Tommy said, “no,” and again asked “are you done yet?” Finally, the bully said yes and Tommy cautiously let him up and stood back with his hands up. The tired bully ran away and Tommy went to go tell a teacher what had happened.

It being said that Tommy’s dad doesn’t want him to be violent, he is also proud of his son. Tommy stood up to the bully but didn’t injure him or threaten him and once in a position of advantage didn’t take advantage, he simply neutralized the threat.  I can say as a martial arts teacher that I’m bummed that Tommy had to use his skills to take on another kid this way but that of all the ways to handle it physically this was one of the best methods for a bad situation.  There were no bruises, no blood, no broken noses and there is a chance that a good teacher can help the boys move to a handshake resolution.  That’s why I favor a more comprehensive approach to bullying. Even when it comes to physical response, we have a choice in how to teach our kids to respond. We can teach them options so that they can regulate their response to fit the situation. It doesn’t have to go from 0% to 100% aggression. Martial Arts when combined with this approach gives kids more tools for defending themselves without going straight for the throat. What did the kids learn from this situation? What can we?