Blog Post

Well Being

How to build an indomitable* spirit 

*Adj in-dä-me-te-bel unbeatable, unstoppable, invincible
Written by Dan Albas with permission by Barry Van Over

Teaching kids how to be successful in life requires more than just smarts and a good handshake. While having brains and charm never hurts, always bank on those that have a burning desire and are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals. In martial arts we call this ‘indomitable spirit’. Encouraging kids to persevere in pursuit of their dreams is one of the greatest gifts a parent can make. To develop an indomitable spirit requires conquering ones own fear of embarrassment, rejection and pain. Here are a couple of rock solid suggestions for getting past these basic fears:

The fear of embarrassment

Part of the human condition is making mistakes. The ego does not like mistakes and feeling embarrassed. It will do whatever it takes to insulate it from making mistakes and thus will go out of its way to avoid them. The lucky ones, who by nature or nurture, understand that given enough time and preparation they can accomplish anything. They also understand that on the road to success all sorts of mistakes will happen. They intuitively understand that mistakes are learning opportunities and will try to learn their lessons as quickly as possible. When your child makes a mistake encourage him or her to look at it as an opportunity to learn. When we learn from our mistakes, it further prepares us for the next challenge. An honest mistake is nothing to be embarrassed about.

The fear of rejection

For most people, having someone reject their idea or plan is too much to bear. This is because they have learned that asking for something they want can lead to rejection and rejection is equated with pain. One simple way to counter this is to always respond to a child’s request with a loving response. Let’s say your young child wants a cookie but you know that it is too close to dinner to give him or her. You can respond with a big smile and say ‘I am so glad you asked!’ Then quickly follow with a hug and say ‘now’s not a good time- but dinners almost ready would you like to help?’ By responding with positive body language and attention they will learn to that it is okay to ask, and that rejection of an idea doesn’t mean rejection of them.

Another strategy to curtail the fear of rejection is to learn to not take anything personally. Most no’s are not no’s at all- they are thinly veiled ‘not right now’s’ or ‘I am not the right person to be asking’ or ‘try again later’. This means when you say no to extending their bedtime from eight o’clock to eight-thirty, you are not saying no- you are saying ‘not now’.

The fear of pain

We have all heard that human beings are hard wired to move away from pain. Most people are quite familiar with physical pain, but there are other types. The pain of discipline, also called delayed gratification, is the sacrifice of short-term pleasure for long-term gain.  An example would be a champion bodybuilder who sacrifices other hobbies or social activities to find time to work out. He or she will sacrifice the short-term pleasure of dessert and instead stick to a specific diet that does not allow for needless calories. They will tax their muscles to an exacting plan and not quit early. They do so because they have an indomitable spirit. This is because they know that if they do not feel the pain of discipline in their lives now they will feel the pain of regret later.

We all share the fear of embarrassment, rejection or pain—it is part of being human. Before becoming a world famous figure for social change in India, Mahatma Ghandi used to be a lawyer who was afraid of going to court. Joan of Arc was just a poor girl from France, yet went on to change the course of European history. These and many other figures had the same fears as we do now, but they showed passion and indomitable spirit in attaining their goals and achievements. Kids who learn not to let irrational fears stop them in the pursuit of their goals live more confidently and make waves in the communities they live in.

Barry Van Over is the owner and president of Premier Martial Arts International, of which there are currently over 80 location nationwide. Mr. Van Over has two locations in the West Knoxville area and been empowering families lives through the martial arts in the Knoxville community for over 20 years. Mr. Van Over and his local studios can be reached at

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