November 13, 2020
From our earliest years we are taught to be patient. Children want everything right now! They don't want to wait, so they are taught; be patient, wait for your turn, give others a chance to play with this toy. Patience is a virtue.
And yet we are not patient, in fact the modern world teaches us to be just the opposite. Buy a new computer that gives you the information faster, buy a new cell phone that works faster. When I was a student in Israel and my parents lived in the USA, things were a little slower. This is how it worked; I would write them a letter, tell them at what time I would be waiting by the pay phone in my Yeshiva dormitory. The letter took two weeks to arrive. At the agreed upon time I would be at the cell phone. But we had only two payphones for four floors of students! So often, I would have to wait. It might be a young man calling a young woman for a "shidduch" date, i.e. to arrange a date that is expected to lead to marriage. The match was made by professional matchmakers and was very serious. So there I was plotzing (Yiddish for waiting very impatiently, like ready to explode) while this young man was trying to impress his potential future wife. Often I would have to write my parents another letter and reschedule our phone call. So I needed to learn to be patient.
Today? We all have smart phones and if for 3 seconds our phones are not working we go crazy. So we are trained to seek immediate gratification and immediate results. Only this is not how the world works, despite the technology.
True, we can write an e mail, and it will arrive in seconds, but the person may not be ready to answer it, they may not have all the information, so we must be patient. I am trying to book my seminars, but our instructors must make sure their facilities are open (with all the Coronavirus restrictions in effect today). I contact my airline but they send me back the funny reply: We will get to you eventually, in the meantime relax and enjoy your day and continue with your daily routine. How odd!
So patience is still an important ingredient in our lives. Despite all the high tech and what-have-you, patience is a character trait we still must work on. But I wish to discuss another aspect of patience; being patient with yourself.
We tend to focus on our behavior towards others, but what about our behavior towards ourselves? This is often overlooked. My goddaughter writes a great deal about cultivating a relationship with yourself, as odd as this may sound, it is true, and it is vitally important. We need a relationship with ourselves, an ongoing dialogue with ourselves, it is essential for our mental health and well being. Check out her writings...MBL Writes, very insightful.
Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook wrote that just as we learn to forgive others we must also learn to forgive ourselves. I recall reading this as a young student and it shook my world. This had never occurred to me. Before the Day of Atonement we ask forgiveness of others but what about asking forgiveness of ourselves? What about forgiving ourselves for being less than perfect, what about forgiving ourselves for getting angry at ourselves for not understanding something fast enough? We can be very harsh on ourselves, and very unforgiving.
Perhaps the most difficult and challenging part of training is being patient with yourself.
And now to relate this to Krav Maga training. As a student for many years and a teacher for several decades I have seen a lot. I have seen students struggle with techniques, with fear of being hurt, and with low self-esteem but perhaps the most difficult and challenging part of training is being patient with yourself. I myself was very hard on myself and constantly disappointed. Thus I am able to see this in others. They look at me as some martial arts superhero and a natural athlete, but nothing could be further from the truth. I am the same as them, only a few years ahead. They will reach my level but they need to be patient, and forgiving, with themselves.
I urge you to be patient with yourself, to be forgiving. Understand that the learning process takes time, this is not a smart phone, you cannot get instant results, it takes time. Just as you would not rebuke or humiliate another person for taking time to learn a new language, please treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding. As my daughter says, develop a relationship with yourself, an ongoing dialogue, based on trust, understanding and patience.
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