The most helpful method to stop self-doubt and negative thinking is thought replacement. Effective thought replacement occurs when you decide what you want to have happen and then think more often about what it will take to make it happen.
- Jason Selk
It was another test. I should’ve known that was what happened, but instead I began to feel those all-too-familiar emotions: anger, denial, and fear. Forget the fact that my opponent was taller. Forget that she was 6 lbs heavier. What got me was that she had four fights to my one. There were two other women there I could have been easily matched with that made more sense, but I was fighting the one with the most experience. “Maybe they mixed it up. It didn’t make any sense to be matched with her,” I began to rationalize.
It was no mix up.
And that’s when it changed. I went from anger, denial, and fear — to acceptance. This is it. I gotta make the best of it. I quickly went into preparation mode, spending the next three hours psyching myself up, trying to face the reality of my situation, trying to figure out what I needed to push me through. In a small hallway filled with 50 or so other fighters waiting for the late doctor (we all have to get cleared by the doctor before we can fight and for some reason the doctor is always late to these things), I crouched on the floor against the corner wall trying to conserve my energy, trying to block out any distractions or stress, and most of all, trying to get my mind right.
This was going to be a tough fight, there would be no room for errors, for panic, for bad habits to show up. I thought about what it would take for me to win. As I visualized my moves and combinations, I thought about who I was fighting for. I thought of those who told me about their story with BPD and those who didn’t have their loved ones any more. Their stories flashed before me. They gave me the will to push forward; I was going to give them all I had because they deserved all I had. I was given a second chance, I told myself. I can’t let this life go. I owe it to them. I owe it to myself.
I thought about eating afterwards, about how happy and satisfied I would be eating whatever I wanted knowing that I won. It would be a long ride home from the venue, and I didn’t want it to be a quiet ride. We had tickets to one of the greatest professional fights at Madison Square Garden that same night. I knew I wouldn’t be able to enjoy that if I lost, my mind filled with regret, what-ifs, and what-went-wrong. No, that wasn’t going to be how my night went out.
I had to get it done.
And that’s basically what I intended on doing. I mentally suited up my armor. I mentally turned the switch on to No Mercy. I remembered what my therapist would tell me each time I prepared for a fight:
This is a sport. Your goal is to win the fight, to throw more punches and connect. She knows what she’s getting into. She signed up for this too. No mercy, Amanda.
It was the permission I needed to get the job done, to be professional, to let go of judgment, to have one thing on my mind and one thing only: prove you belong here.
The bell rang and it all became a blur. I kept hearing my corner screaming, You first, Amanda! You first!!! There was hardly any time to think in my head, just do: punches, combinations, slips, bobs, hooks. She’d punch me and I kept on. There was no time to feel them, to let them get to me; I had to move on to the next combination. I couldn’t let her in because I knew if I let her in, she would win. So I kept on pushing. Somehow, in the second round, the ref gave my opponent a standing-eight count. I knew, however, that standing-eight counts didn’t mean much in terms of points and so i continued to press on.
In the third round, I found myself thinking for a moment, noticing I was becoming fatigue. I finally realized I was chasing her around (which was making me tired) and so I cut the ring. It was my most proud, though short-lived moment — cutting the ring. It was something we practiced time and time again, I couldn’t get it right, I didn’t get it, and yet, there during the fight, I actually made an attempt. My opponent was tricky and experienced and she soon got out of that one. In the next moment I had left my guard open; she landed a good one-two on my knocker. In that split second I said to myself, Oh, please don’t give me an eight count… the ref told us to break but sure enough, he didn’t. The final bell rang.
We won that day. We had fun on the ride back home. We watch a great fight go down at Madison Square Garden. And I ate ice cream.
Special thanks to my corner — my coach Moises and my sparring partner Karen. To my other sparring partner Ed and for Kyce coming down to cheer us on. Thank you all who are in my corner and to those whom I fight for.
Oh and the test? Well, my coach later told me that he wanted to see how I’d react realizing on the day of the fight my opponent would be much more experienced than I. Glad to say I passed.
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