I can tell you from personal experience that you will never get anywhere by telling yourself that you suck. Shihan says you shouldn’t put yourself down, because it gives other people permission to do the same, but I think that having a low self worth is more detrimental than worrying about what others think of you. One of the quickest ways to fail at something is to convince yourself you can’t do it, before you even try.
Since I started at the dojo (and throughout my life, really), I’ve had a pattern of telling myself that I couldn’t do things. I told myself that I would fail, that I wasn’t good enough. When I started training, my instructors tried to convince me that the true learning wasn’t in the succeeding, it was in the trying, but I never felt as though I honored them, because I wasn’t worthy. I’ve never been as good as I think I should be.
If I had a dollar for every time I told myself (or someone else) that I sucked at martial arts, I could start my own dojo (but I would not recommend anyone train there, the teacher sucks! ;). Putting myself down wasn’t doing me any good, and it sure wasn’t instilling any confidence in the people I was supposed to teach. Also, before most of my competitions, I told myself that I was going to lose, and lo and behold, I usually lost!
Then my Jiu-Jitsu instructor Amy told me that the reason I sucked was because I thought I sucked, and from then on I wasn’t allowed to say that I sucked anymore, I was only supposed to say I’m Awesome. I didn’t really believe it (I was just trying to go along with her). Oddly enough, it still worked. When I stopped focusing on how much I thought I sucked, I actually got better, and when I stopped telling other people how much I thought I sucked, they started respecting me more. Conan once said “If you keep telling people you suck, they’re going to believe you.”
The truth is, I still pretty much think I suck, but you didn’t hear Muhammad Ali going around saying “I am not now, nor will I ever be, the greatest!” When I say things on this blog like “I will not lose!”, or “I am so hot, in my skills there be propane!”, I don’t really believe that shit, it’s false bravado. It is intended for the purpose of counteracting my own natural tendency to be negative towards myself. Since I don’t have a hype-man, Ginger has to do it for me.