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Old 07-20-2006, 10:54 AM   #1
"I Want Greener Grass"
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Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

in the movie amadeus, the plot revolved in part around the character salieri being jealous of mozart. he was a talented (or at least competent) composer, but he lost the ability to be happy with himself and his work because he was overshadowed by mozart. i'm starting to notice that I'm falling into this trap with aikido. how do I stop it? How do I keep myself from getting jealous of others? How do I keep myself focused on my progress? how do i look forward to being taught by my instructor without needing his praise?
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Old 07-20-2006, 11:38 AM   #2
Mark Freeman
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

One possible way would be to imagine what life will be like for you in the future if you continue on this path, take time to see, hear and feel all the things that you might, should you stay the way you are. Then do the same, seeing hearing and feeling the result of changing and acting in a more positive way. This should at least give you some internal motivation to make some changes.

Ask yourself not what you want to 'stop' doing, but rather what do you want to be doing?

hope this helps,

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 07-20-2006, 12:01 PM   #3
Mark Uttech
Dojo: Yoshin-ji Aikido of Marshall
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

We create our own traps; that is, anything you want to call a trap can be a trap. Sometimes it is better to be 'mushotoku', without a goal. This does not mean to never have a goal, but when you simply show up at the dojo and bow in for class, your progress continues. Goals will appear of themselves; as you continue, you will adopt the practice of looking back. Looking back may well be your encouragement. I have always been encouraged by something I read in the book: "Zen and the art of Archery" : speaking of goals, the master said: "the goal, if there must be a goal at all, is something called The Buddha."
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Old 07-20-2006, 12:38 PM   #4
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

Find a really good Chinese restaurant, read and save all your fortune cookie slips of wisdom, then follow your heart, pay attention, and learn. It's simple.

Sincerely,

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 07-20-2006, 02:42 PM   #5
MaryKaye
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

For me the strongest single antidote to competitiveness with my peers is the mindset that we are all working to see that each individual can advance. So, if my rankmate makes shodan that's a positive reflection on all the hours I spent training with him, coaching him, taking ukemi for him: it's my achievement too. And when I pass a test, the credit goes in significant part to all the students who patiently drilled with me, harassed and reversed me, commented on my technique, looked after me when I hurt myself: juniors and seniors alike.

I don't think Salieri could do this with Mozart, who was a prodigy and something of a lone wolf. But in my dojo environment it's pretty natural.

If rivalry with a specific individual is really getting you down, you could also consider taking a sabbatical and training somewhere else. This may give you more sense of perspective. The biggest fish in the fishbowl seems less important if you aren't in the fishbowl any longer.

Mary Kaye
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Old 07-20-2006, 05:16 PM   #6
Hucqie
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

Mary Kaye I like your comment about the fish bowl.

To Just a thought, but perhaps others look towards us the same as we look towards them, ie the people that you are jealous of may be jealous of us.

I sometimes also look for that validation from the sensei that you are referring to, where I get it though is not in the form of direct feedback, but rather in the corrections / comments that the sensei makes about my technique. The logic that I follow is that if the Sensei is correcting the finer points of my technique then the rest must be ok. ie. I measure my progress not through praise, but through the amount of correction I receive.

As for being focussed on progress I find that it helps me to set goals, right now a major goal for me is my next grading which I am working hard towards. Sometimes I set myself a smaller goal where I decide I really want to improve a particular technique and then I will put extra effort in that direction.

Hope this helps

Brandon
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Old 07-20-2006, 06:17 PM   #7
asiawide
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

Well.. I confess that I had the problem and still have.. There were bunch of wonderful guys who were far better than me in my dojo. Many of them began to learn aikido when I already spent some years(I was no more newbie..) but they caught me up easily in one or two years. It took several years for me to do something but they did it in a year. It was quite frustrating to see that. Maybe I wasn't that zealous like them.

However, in the long run, what I found is that only a few still training aikido. Most of them quit. Now no more jealousy and remained ones are my good training partner now since they are better than me and spend many years with me.

I think this time will come for you too.

Jaemin
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Old 07-20-2006, 07:03 PM   #8
Don_Modesto
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

Quote:
jealous.... i'm starting to notice that I'm falling into this trap with aikido. how do I stop it? How do I keep myself from getting jealous of others? How do I keep myself focused on my progress? how do i look forward to being taught by my instructor without needing his praise?
Why is this an aikido question?

You must have this problem in all aspects of your life it you have it in aikido. Have you posted this question in Proctor & Gamble's Forum on Tide and whiter whites?--I just know that that bitch across the street has brighter colors than you...

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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Old 07-20-2006, 08:43 PM   #9
"I want Greener Grass"
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

my IP will be different b/c the first post was from work, and this one is from home.

Quote:
Don J. Modesto wrote:
Why is this an aikido question?

You must have this problem in all aspects of your life it you have it in aikido. Have you posted this question in Proctor & Gamble's Forum on Tide and whiter whites?--I just know that that bitch across the street has brighter colors than you...

Well, when I get upset and frustrated about my laundry, I'll let you know ;-)

But seriously? I do not see asking other people how they deal with frustration is somehow less of an aikido question than asking about tatoos, relationships in dojos, why martial art stores seem to only be online, or getting in a bathtub full of freezing cold water... All of which have been topics here at aikiweb (most in the last 2 months or so).

How I deal or don't deal with frustration affects my ability to train in aikido, and therefore it is, at least for me, an aikido issue. I asked a question here, the same as I would ask a question involving a physical or technical problem. How does this question fall short of being an aikido question?

Also, just to clarify: I'm not looking to 'legitimize' my frustration, or get my hand held, or hear platitudes. I have a problem with focusing on training the way I want to, and I really, really hate that. I hate it and I want it to change, and I was looking for some advice on how to deal.
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Old 07-20-2006, 09:22 PM   #10
Dennis Good
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

Well in addition to Aikido I also lift weights quite regularly. One of the sayings we try to follow is "Leave your ego at the door". What that means is don't compare yourself to your partner the guy across the gym. Judge your progress based on YOUR history, how much better you are now than you were 2 months ago. Comparing youself to someone else is not a good gauge of your abilities. Everyone has a different amount of natural talent, conditioning and time spent as well as so many other factors. By all means, use those that are better than you to challenge yourself to be better but don't base your progress on theirs. So in short, Leave your ego at the door and enjoy the ride. I know, easier said than done.

Good luck
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Old 07-20-2006, 11:35 PM   #11
sullivanw
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

Comparing yourself to others under a competetive mindset will always leave you short; there is always someone better. When we train, we all learn from each other. This is an opportunity to learn from those who may have surpassed you. My advice is to stay hungry, enjoy each moment for what it is, and absorb all you can regardless of past relationships. Good luck, and train well!

-Will
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Old 07-21-2006, 06:12 AM   #12
Amelia Smith
 
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

The first few responses seemed interesting and useful, but for myself, I've never found that the advice to "leave your ego at the door" or "focus on your own training" to be very helpful. We're social animals, and aikido is a very social and interactive venture. We can't get far (anywhere, really) without other people, and so our interactions with them (and feelings about them) are an integral part of practice.

Now, I don't have much of a problem with people who are really hugely more talented than I am. There aren't very many Mozarts out there. What I have a problem with is those people who are maybe possibly a bit more talented than me, but who get into whatever sensei's in crowd or group of favorites and are promoted by different standards -- that is, they don't seem to have to train as much, or progress as much, to be promoted to the next level (whatever that is). This really ticks me off. Actually, one of the things I really appreciate about Chiba Sensei (although he scares me otherwise!) is that he is scrupulously fair and even-handed. I've found that to be rare in the aikido world.

Anyway, I think jealousy can be useful, in aikido. It can spur you to train harder or more effectively. It can help you set goals. Sure, ultimately maybe your practice is about your practice and progress and everyone else is irrelevant to that, but in the meantime when you're interracting with these people every day, some comparisons are inevitable. You have to get to the point where you know you are doing well (for yourself) and recognise your strengths as well as your shortcomings.

Now get back on the mat!

--Amelia
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Old 07-21-2006, 06:12 AM   #13
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

Dennis, no offense meant and I hope you can see where I'm coming from... I think comparing yourself to yourself two months ago is still not "leaving your ego at the door". It's just a way to, how to say it, console ourselves when we're confronted with reality. The reality being that there are always going to be people who are better than we are in some way.

Greener grass, if you really mean it that you want to change this, then just do. Admit that there are people who are better than you, and stop wishing that somehow things would be different. Stop looking for something to be proud of... it's a great relief, if you dare to stop doing that.

People have different abilitites and that's just how it is. We feel like we need to be proud of something in order to feel like we are something or someone, but it's actually not true. Pride isn't necessary for existense.

For the record - preaching to myself here...

kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 07-21-2006, 07:56 AM   #14
Don_Modesto
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

Quote:
But seriously? I do not see asking other people how they deal with frustration is somehow less of an aikido question than asking about tatoos, relationships in dojos, why martial art stores seem to only be online, or getting in a bathtub full of freezing cold water... All of which have been topics here at aikiweb (most in the last 2 months or so).
Managed to ignore those. Your problem is a knack for the catchy title. Geez, Salieri after all...
Quote:
Pauliina Lievonen wrote:
Greener grass, if you really mean it that you want to change this, then just do.
Or not.

Competitive sports coaches have known forever that athletes do better against opponents than against the clock, e.g.

Aikido famously lacks competition, a version of Occam's razor. Maybe this feeling ought to be leveraged rather than quelled, UPAYA and all that.

"RAH RAH REE! KICK 'EM IN THE KNEE,
RAH RAH RASS! KICK 'EM IN THE OTHER KNEE!

...or not...
Quote:
For the record - preaching to myself here...
Me, too. Always.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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Old 07-21-2006, 08:50 AM   #15
Dennis Good
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

No offense taken Pauliina, but I don't say it to console myself because there are people out there better than me. I practice Aikido to be better than I used to be and next year I want to be better than I am now. One of the definitions of ego is
" the self especially as contrasted with another self or the world"
and this is what I am referring to. Contrasting yourself to others. I honestly don't care if I am better than the next guy. When I first started Aikido I was so uncoordinated that I would bang my ankles together every time we did jumping jacks during warm ups. That doesn't happen anymore and fifteen years later it is still something I am proud of and remember well. It was an obstacle within myself that I overcame. I'm sure in the past I have fallen into the 'Salieri trap" but in the long run it must not have been that important because what I remember the most is the satisfaction gained by seeing my own progress over the years and sharing what I've learned. Self evaluation and goals are very important and other people can serve to inspire you but I see " I want to be as good as him or her" as self defeating because of a lack of a solid benchmark. Their progress will increase as yours does so will you ever be able to "catch" them? Maybe. Striving to be better than you are is essential, but you should base it off of what you have achieved. Then again this is a mindset and outlook that not everyone shares.
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Old 07-21-2006, 09:58 AM   #16
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

Quote:
Dennis Good wrote:
No offense taken Pauliina, but I don't say it to console myself because there are people out there better than me. I practice Aikido to be better than I used to be and next year I want to be better than I am now.
Ok, fair enough!

There's an exercise we do in warm ups where you touch the ground behind your head with your toes (lying down obviously), then kick your feet back forward again and stand straight up, through a squat. You know which one I mean? I used to never be able to keep up with the rest of the group with this one, and I'd get out of breath, and I'd need to push off with my hands. Anyway, I've been doing aikido for seven years and this year, I finally learned to do it without falling back onto my bum when I try to stand up. Yay!

kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 07-21-2006, 11:52 AM   #17
"wants greener grass"
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

Quote:
Pauliina Lievonen wrote:
Greener grass, if you really mean it that you want to change this, then just do. Admit that there are people who are better than you, and stop wishing that somehow things would be different. Stop looking for something to be proud of... it's a great relief, if you dare to stop doing that.
This is exactly the goal, and I agree its what I should be doing. My problem is the 'how' part. The decision to 'just let go' is not sufficient to actually do that.

In either case, this thread apparently was a bad idea. My apologies.
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Old 07-21-2006, 01:53 PM   #18
Lan Powers
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

not needed.......thought provoking to say the least.
Lan

Play nice, practice hard, but remember, this is a MARTIAL art!
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Old 07-21-2006, 11:47 PM   #19
"Gem"
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

If I was trying to overcome the problem of jealousy I would try to focus on the reason for it -wanting the SKILLS and ABILITIES of the other person- rather than being jealous of and thinking about the PERSON (if that makes sense).

I would ask myself why I was feeling this way (sounds obvious I know!). Example, maybe didn't really think I could ever do it that well myself? Also, did I think I should be progressing more quickly? That kind of questioning and thinking tends to shift the focus from the other person to yourself which is helpful.

If it's any consolation, last time I did a really good technique in front of the class I could sense someone with about 10 years more experience than me radiating jealousy. As the person who 'provoked' it I felt terrible too, embarrassed and awkward. I don't want to make other people jealous, it makes me feel sick!

A note too about praise from your sensei. My observations of my own training are that my sensei gives praise when he sees an improvement in technique, as an encouragement. He ignores me completely if I have a technique 'in the bag'! Just so you realise, as your techniques get better you may get LESS attention and praise, not more!
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Old 07-22-2006, 05:45 AM   #20
Xamien
 
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

Quote:
A note too about praise from your sensei. My observations of my own training are that my sensei gives praise when he sees an improvement in technique, as an encouragement. He ignores me completely if I have a technique 'in the bag'! Just so you realise, as your techniques get better you may get LESS attention and praise, not more!
I like the first part, but it seems like even senior students with a good grasp of things need to hear something, too. I know Dale sensei teaches (or used to, I haven't been in a while) much the same way.
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Old 07-22-2006, 06:04 AM   #21
dps
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

There is nothing wrong with wanting praise from your sensei. It is motivational. Wishing to be as good as a fellow student is not bad either. It also can be motivational. Don't expect sudden leaps of getting better. Improvement comes gradual and depends on how often you practice on the mat and off and sometimes not noticeable right away. Laugh at your own mistakes and share this humor with your fellow students.
Also very important to strive to have whitest gi no dojo.
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Old 07-22-2006, 09:33 AM   #22
ruthmc
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Re: Dealing with the 'Salieri trap'

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
Wishing to be as good as a fellow student is not bad either. It also can be motivational.
Absolutely!

Find somebody whose technique / ukemi / style you admire, aspire to, and most importantly can see yourself able to emulate one day. Watch and learn from this student. Ask him / her questions. If he / she is truly the one from whom you can learn, he / she will help you gladly.

Aikido is learned in baby steps, not great leaps.

Keep the faith

Ruth
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