My good friend Mike Black once said something that stuck with me: “The fear of getting punched in the face is worse than the punch itself.”
I’ve thought about that from time to time since he said it. And you know what – he’s absolutely right.
And why are we afraid of getting punched?
It’s the thought of the physical pain. The thought of someone throwing their fist at you and busting your face wide open. And the pain that goes along with that.
But here’s the thing – in the heat of the moment, a punch doesn’t hurt half as much as all that. You’re high on adrenaline – it’s fight or flight, nothing else. You get tunnel vision and if you get hit, the pain doesn’t register. That comes later like a hangover after pounding several six-packs of Bronsons.
It’s natural to try to avoid a slap in the face. It’s unpleasant and annoying. But the pain – when it arrives – is temporary and will not totally put you out of commission most of the time.
And if it does, chances are you’ve been knocked the fuck out and you won’t remember a thing about it anyway.
So if you ever find yourself in a barroom brawl – go with it. Live in the moment. Take the punches and keep swinging. Here’s a textbook example – Clint Eastwood & Conan the Barbarian’s father in a 2 vs 45 man handicap match (cut to 00:35 if you’re not a fan of Country music and Spoiler Alert: Eastwood and Conan Senior kick ass and take names)
Be at peace with the truth: In a fight, you will get punched and bleed. And so will the other guy
Live in the moment. Like when you were a boy. Climbing trees, seeing how fast you could go on your bike, staging a mini Wrestlemania in your back yard.
There were no thoughts about how much it would hurt if we fell from that tree, crashed our bikes or couldn’t escape that figure-four leglock.
When you live in the moment, the fear disappears. We are single-minded. Trying to achieve only one thing. And doing it one millisecond at a time. There is no future beyond that.
Negative thinking leads to inaction
These negative thoughts stop us from taking action. And not just when we’re in a physical confrontation.
- You are afraid to say hi to an attractive honey in case you get rejected
- You are afraid to quit your job and start your own business in case it fails
- You are afraid of giving a presentation in case you screw it up and everyone laughs at you
Far better to unleash that inner child and go for it. And if it doesn’t work out…so what? It’s not a failure – just an opportunity to learn. Take the learning from it and move on.
But I digress. Let’s get back to getting punched. And the fear.
So what can we do to get rid of that fear? Here’s five quick tips:
1 – Get punched in a controlled environment
Sounds a bit counter-intuitive…but join a boxing, kickboxing or MMA club. Not only will you get as fit as two fit things, you will also get used to physical conflict and getting punched. But in a safe and controlled space
2 – Always keep your eyes open
You need to observe what the hell is going on if things ever do get aggressive. Closing your eyes in anticipation of a punch is a bad idea. Keep those peepers open. Observe. And exploit any observed openings
3 – Never turn your back
If someone gets behind you, that means you can’t see them. That in turn means you don’t know what is going to happen. Just like the previous point, all observed information is knowledge. So keep facing forward. Keep moving forward
4 – Don’t flinch
A tough one to do. But if someone fakes a punch and you flinch you will probably have closed your eyes too. Which is bad (see point #2). So flinching is bad. But you can fix this by following the advice in point #1
5 – Keep moving
A moving target is harder to hit. You might not have the skill to float like a butterfly, but even dancing like a chicken is better than standing in one place waiting to get smacked.
When someone punches you in the face it causes pain, shock and surprise
It makes us feel belittled, controlled, bested and it has the intention of scaring, exploiting, hurting and dominating us. It causes both emotional and physical pain.
Most of us are risk averse. It’s a self-preservation thing. Getting punched causes damage and so it’s a risk of fighting.
But we need to take risks to become the best we can be and learn new things. We need to step into the arena and be prepared to take a hit.
Challenging ourselves will absolutely lead to some pain and discomfort. We might get punched in the face. It might bleed, bring tears to our eyes, cause brain fog and wind us. But we can’t win if we don’t fight.
That fool Balboa had it right: “It’s not about how hard you hit – it’s about how hard you get hit and keep moving forward.”