1. Use your energy wisely; this is a long, slog, you need to be discerning and deliberate about who/what/when/where/how and in what ways you expend your energy.
2. In order to best discern, it is vital that you attune and respond to ALL of the subtle and unsubtle ways in which the other person is communicating with you (this is empathy y’all!) If I can attune to the movements and responses of another, I can be more deliberate in how I respond to them in my movements and not waste necessary energy.
3. Trust other people to tell you what they need and don’t feel responsible for them unless they ask you to be. You don’t need to apologize when you hit someone’s mitts (think more padded catcher’s glove) or when you miss their mitts, in fact, you are not expected to apologize unless you do something truly egregious, which is really rare. Reflexively apologizing is soooo much femme socialization (esp middle class white women). When someone holds mitts and you hit them, you are holding up your end of the agreed upon bargain. This is clear, reliable communication and an adequate amount of care that both of you are providing for one another.
4. Your “stuff” will come out with the pace of boxing; practice sitting in the discomfort of not being able to “hide it”. Activity is happening so fast, you won’t be able to “hide” from the stuff that you are not comfortable with, and that can be a really good thing. Generally, as adults we have developed all kinds of strategic, adaptive ways to move in the world to avoid “our stuff.” With boxing however, you don’t have time for your reactions to be so conscious, so lots of stuff in our unconscious comes out. For example, a former coach (and friend) of mine used to get really close to me (in a non-weird and non-threatening way). I was super uncomfortable with it and it got in my head but our sparring was happening so fast that I couldn’t “get away” from the feeling of discomfort that came up from that. I eventually just stopped and yelled “you are close to me and it is freaking me out!” And he just laughed and said “metaphor for anything in your life Katie?!” You don’t know me! But of course he did…#nailedit.
5. There is nothing like physical movement and further, hitting things in a way that doesn’t harm anyone else to get anger and aggression out. This is SOOOO important for our own health and well-being. Our “issues are living in our tissues” and holding in feelings of anger, sadness, rage, and so on (which we all carry, women/femme people tend to hold more since their socialization prohibits aggressive expression of it). Getting that energy out is self-care, it is a political act, as the great audre lorde says. It also helps us show up in kinder, more just ways in other parts of our life and helps us continue to do the work that we are meant to do in the world by enabling us to sustain ourselves in a world that can feel deeply unjust and inequitable.
6. Get over your mistakes. You will make them. As long as you don't need to do some repair work with other individuals or communities, move on. Punches are numbered (1 is a jab, 2 is a cross, and so on). This morning, and many mornings, when our coach asks us to throw a series of punches, I mess up the order. I find myself easily getting into my head to "get it right" rather than just moving, trying to get the combination right and if I mess up, whatever! Low stakes...low stakes...which leads me to another great life/boxing lesson...
7. Knowing the difference between stakes...this mornings combo mess-up=low stakes. Many many things in my life are low stakes. I don't need to needlessly spend energy trying to get the best deal on motor oil or spending 20 minutes on a one line email to a colleague who I have a convivial relationship with-low stakes. For me, often thinking something is "high stakes" is associated with wanting to be liked/accepted/have someone think I am smart, etc. That assumption ("I am not ok as I am") is not true or useful and thus, spending all that time on low stakes things is not a good use of my time/energy and also it feeds that "not good enough" schema that doesn't need feeding.
There is a bunch of others and if I remember them (or can find the note on my phone that I wrote them down on), I will add to this list!
Thanks to Arcaro Boxing in Seattle and Element Gym in St. Paul for helping me learn about and care for myself, and by extension learn about and care for others.