During training today, a buddy of mine got pretty upset after losing a match to a fellow training partner. After tapping out to an arm lock, he sprang up with a heated expression on his face, cussed, and paced around the gym while stewing. He was clearly disappointed with his performance. It was apparent, however, that if he would have had time (it was towards the end of training session), he would have challenged the guy that just beat him to a rematch. Anyway, he was calm within a minute or two. He asked me something to the effect of, “Is it bad that I got mad?”
In order to make a value judgment on an emotion like anger, I think you need to look at the behavior that follows the emotion. Emotion, by itself, is a reaction to your belief system. If our belief system is irrational, our emotions get the best of us and we behave poorly or ineffectively. If our belief system is rational, our emotions are simply fuel for productivity and growth. In order to determine whether or not anger is productive or acceptable, you must look at the behavior that follows the emotional response.
Let’s break down my buddy’s experience. First, he gets beat. Second, he becomes angry due to some type of internal dialogue he had about his performance. Probably something like, “Dammit, I can do better than that!” Third, he became angry but would have (fourth) gone on to challenge the guy to a rematch.
To me, his anger was productive in that he used it to better himself. This is due to his rational belief of, “I can do better than that.” If his belief had been, “I absolutely cannot lose. If I lose, I’m worthless,” then he would have still had the emotional response of anger upon losing. His behavior, however, would have likely been to sulk and go home. He would avoid the hurdle (the guy that beat him) due to self imposed avoidance of his irrational belief, “I’m worthless when I lose.” Instead of attempting to better his situation, he would stagnate and never progress.
So, what do you think? Is it bad to get pissed off at yourself for not performing up to what you feel your standards should be?