Understanding The Broaden and Build Theory for Training Success
A small dose of fear has its place in the ring. It brings on the fight or flight response and releases adrenaline to help you endure a dangerous situation. It can be the boost you need to land the right punch at the right moment, but it isn’t in our best interest to reside in survival mode when not absolutely necessary. Activating the sympathetic nervous system inappropriately can have adverse effects on our health.
So, while useful in a fight, there aren’t many other places along the boxer’s journey that benefit from negative emotions. There are other emotions though, that when practiced consistently, propel a contender to the next level.
The Broaden and Build Theory
Negativity has no place in the studio, but what about positive emotions? Do they play a role in the boxing world? Barbara Fredrickson might think so, she developed the Broaden and Build theory in 1998 suggesting that positive emotions could actually produce health and wellbeing. The theory explains that experiencing affirmative feelings like love, joy and gratitude do more than produce happiness in the moment, they also broaden our minds and open us up to new ideas and possibilities. Sounds a lot like adaptability, one very valuable asset in a boxer.
Actively developing positive emotions allows us to grow and build our resources as well. Naturally, we become more optimistic, but also more resilient and better able to learn and problem solve. The next goal is looking closer already - with more resources at our disposal it all gets a bit easier. One good emotion builds on the next, creating a never-ending positive spiral.
Negative Emotions are Constricting: Positive Emotions are Expansive
Take a moment to imagine how different emotions feel. A negative emotion (fear, anger, judgment) is constricting and limiting. It makes a person feel the need to protect themselves, get smaller or shut down altogether.
A positive emotion (love, joy, acceptance) has an expansive feeling, encouraging openness, hugs, collaboration and sharing. Positive emotions feel better, and in circumstances as it relates to your health, it’s ideal to do what feels good as long as it’s not destructive.
The more expansive we feel, the more likely we are to take new directions from a coach, accept constructive criticism from a workout buddy or even choose carrots over French fries at lunch. It widens our eyes to what could be possible and leaves us more malleable and open-minded – two things that are crucial for change.
Change = Growth
It’s easy to get stuck in our ways and keep doing the same, tired routine, especially if it’s worked for you in the past. But the same ol’, same ol’ might be harming your progress in more ways than one. First, it’s boring, and probably doesn’t get you pumped up or excited to train. On those days when your mind is giving you every reason to skip the studio, that stale workout is the last nail in the coffin.
Second, our bodies and minds need variety to keep advancing. It takes a growth mindset to reach your goals. Train the same way for years on end and you’ll have the same body, same skill level and the same results in the ring. The only contenders seeing significant results are the ones that push themselves out of their comfort zone and continually embrace change.
How to Develop Positive Emotions for Better Results
According to the broaden and build theory, the way to push forward and create change is by developing positive emotions. Essentially, the happier we are, the more creative and flexible we become. This is a sustainable way to build and evolve not only a successful training program but also a rewarding life.
To encourage more positive emotions, start by creating a positive environment. It will improve your morale, your personal bonds and your productivity inside and outside the studio. To do this, you will want to banish any unnecessary stress from your life by setting a few boundaries.
We unknowingly add stress to our lives when we don’t have set priorities. Find clarity around what you want your life to look like and that will determine how you prefer to spend your time. Now, minus your responsibilities, start saying “no” to requests that fall outside of these parameters.
Next, limit time with anyone who is naturally negative, doesn’t support your goals or is a bad influence in general. You know the ones, they are the people that came to mind the moment you read that last line. And if this includes yourself, then you are on the right track. It’s not necessary to be mean or hateful about this, and you aren’t going to gain any positive emotions by doing so, but also don’t over analyze it. Just find ways to reduce and eliminate all forms of negativity from your life.
Build a Supportive Network
Now that the obstacles are out of the way, you can start building. Find a supportive studio like Gloveworx, one that comes with its own tribe that is ready and able to support you on your way to becoming the boxer and person you want to be. Become part of that tribe, because like attracts like and when you encourage others to fulfill their dreams, that support boomerangs right back to you exactly when you need it the most.
Next, either as a jump start or for a lifetime, you will want to add a positive, experienced and knowledgeable coach that will challenge and encourage you to be at your best, every step of the way. Most importantly, and here’s where the positive emotions really come into play, practice gratitude daily for everyone (including yourself) and everything in your life that inspires or encourages you to become your best self.
Make Positivity Your New Default
To receive the full benefits of these positive emotions, they need to be your default. As humans, we will experience challenging events and emotions throughout our lives, but if we intentionally live with more enthusiasm overall, looking for the silver lining becomes a habit. This takes practice and maybe even a gratitude journal, but as a contender, you know that like anything else worth attaining, the gains far exceed the effort.
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