Have you ever heard of the self-fulfilling prophecy? It’s the idea that our beliefs about ourselves and our abilities can actually become true simply because we believe them to be. We subconsciously take small actions to go towards this belief.
This is particularly evident in the world of combat sports, where a fighter’s mindset can make all the difference between victory and defeat. If a fighter believes they are capable of winning, they are more likely to perform well and come out on top. However, if they believe they are going to lose, they are more likely to perform poorly and end up losing.
One example of how the self-fulfilling prophecy can manifest in combat sports is through the experience of fatigue. Here’s an example I gave in an article from this site:
The cycle of feeling fatigue to thinking “I’m tired, there’s no way I can throw another kick” actually becomes a reality when you are told to throw another kick and can only do it with minimal effort. When a fighter is exhausted, it can be easy to slip into a negative mindset and start to believe that they can no longer perform at their best. This negative mindset then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the fighter’s performance suffers and they are unable to execute their techniques with the same level of skill and precision.
Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.Henry Ford
However, if a fighter is able to maintain a positive mindset, even in the face of fatigue, they are more likely to perform well and push through the physical and mental barriers that come with exhaustion. By focusing on the belief that they are capable of achieving their goals and winning their fights, the fighter is able to tap into a reserve of mental and physical strength that can help them to overcome even the toughest of opponents.
Other examples of negative self-talk and the power of self-fulfilling prophecy:
- “I’m not good at Muay Thai.” If you believe that you’re not good at Muay Thai, you may be less likely to put in the effort to improve. Your lack of effort may lead to slower progress and reinforce your belief that you’re not good at the sport.
- “I can’t handle getting hit.” If you’re afraid of getting hit, you may be less likely to engage in sparring or full-contact fighting. This can limit your opportunities for growth and development as a fighter, which can reinforce your belief that you can’t handle getting hit.
- “I always lose to taller opponents.” If you believe that your height is a disadvantage you cannot overcome, you may have less confidence when facing them. Your lack of confidence or avoidance of taller opponents may prevent you from developing strategies to overcome height differences.
- “Women aren’t as strong as men.” If you are a women and you believe that women are inherently weaker than men, you may be less likely to push yourself as hard in training and give yourself excuses as to why you’re not progressing. This mentality may limit your opportunities for growth and development.
- “I’m not aggressive enough to be a good fighter.” You may be less likely to take risks or initiate strikes in sparring or competition.
Now, self-talk but in the other direction of positivity:
- “I will become a champion”: A fighter who believes that they will become a champion and visualizes themselves winning the championship will likely put in the necessary work and dedication to make that a reality.
- “I can land that punch”: A fighter who believes in their ability to land a certain punch or combination will be more likely to throw it with confidence and accuracy, increasing the chances of success.
- “I can overcome this challenge”: Whether it’s overcoming an injury, a tough opponent, or a difficult weight cut, a fighter who believes they can overcome a challenge will be more likely to put in the work and effort needed to do so.
- “I will improve my technique”: A fighter who believes in their ability to improve their technique will be more likely to seek out coaching and training opportunities to hone their skills and become a better fighter.
- “I am strong and capable”: A fighter who believes in their strength and ability to endure tough training sessions and fights will likely have better mental toughness and resilience, allowing them to push through tough times and come out on top.
- “I will be a good teammate”: A fighter who believes in their ability to be a positive and supportive teammate will likely put in the effort to build relationships with their training partners and contribute to a positive team culture.
- “I will inspire others”: A fighter who believes they can inspire others through their hard work, dedication, and success will likely strive to be a positive role model and use their platform to make a positive impact on others.
Believe that you are capable of achieving your goals and winning your fights, and your actions will follow suit.
Of course, having a positive mindset alone is not enough to ensure success in combat sports. Fighters must also train hard, hone their skills, and put in the necessary work to achieve their goals. But by maintaining a positive mindset and believing in themselves, fighters are setting themselves up for success and putting themselves in the best possible position to perform at their highest level.
Moreover, the power of the self-fulfilling prophecy is not limited to individual performance. It can also have an impact on the training environment as a whole. For example, if a gym or trainer is known for producing successful fighters, this reputation can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as new students are inspired by the success of their peers and are more likely to push themselves to achieve their own goals.
The self-fulfilling prophecy is a powerful concept that can have a profound impact on our lives, particularly in the realm of training and fighting. We can tap into a reserve of mental and physical strength that can help us to overcome even the toughest of opponents. Whether we are training as individuals or as part of a larger community, the power of the self-fulfilling prophecy should never be underestimated.
So the next time you step into the ring or the gym, remember the power of the self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you want an in-depth guide to training in Thailand, I’ve got just the thing.