Silencing your inner critic is like fighting in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Without the right techniques, you end up struggling with your opponent, wasting time and energy. But with the right techniques? You could put your inner critic on the mat so fast you’d be surprised you ever let it control you. 

Enneagram Ones and BJJ students have one important trait in common, and that’s their desire to constantly achieve something more. Ones don't always go about this in the healthiest ways, however, and can gain valuable wisdom in understanding how BJJ practitioners pursue their improvement goals. 

Lesson One: Learn from Failure, Don’t Dwell On It

Learn to love losing. BJJ practitioners lose all the time. In this sport, it's actually pretty common for smaller students to defeat larger, sometimes physically stronger students with technique and experience alone.

Good BJJ practitioners aren’t concerned about their win-loss record or their last defeat. Rather, it’s their willingness to learn from their losses that make them so formidable. What were my weak points? What techniques did the other person excel at that I need to work on? What skills need improving? These are the questions that BJJ practitioners try to answer after a match.

Ones can use this same approach. Instead of allowing our inner critic to crush us at every failure, we must understand that failure itself is not a roadblock. It is simply a stepping stone towards success.

Lesson Two: Focus on Your Own Progress, Not Others 

In every BJJ match, the focus narrows down to the individual and their opponent. Every moment demands complete attention, observation and anticipation because in the heat of battle, being preoccupied with the performance of others can easily result in defeat.  

It's common for Ones to compare themselves to someone who has reached the heights they aspire for. But honestly, you don't know that person's story or what they have gone through to get there. They may have started out in a place you're still trying to reach.

Instead of being envious of those who have "made it," focus on your personal growth and the incremental steps you can take to reach your goals. Quiet your inner critic by measuring your progress only against your past self, not anyone else.

Lesson Three: Get Better Gradually, Not Miraculously

Type Ones are impatient. We set our sights on something and seek immediate results. And because we want to master a new skill before we've barely picked it up, our inner critic destroys us when things don’t go according to plan. 

While it is perfectly normal to set goals and targets, we shouldn’t be so quick to put ourselves down whenever something doesn’t work out. Every BJJ master was once a student. It took a decade of hard work and an unrelenting dedication to acquire that black belt.  

Your inner critic will find every possible reason to put you down. But change isn’t an overnight transformation; rather it is a never-ending process of self-improvement. You have to trust the process and keep pushing yourself to be better – even if it feels like you are going nowhere.

Lesson Four: Direct Your Energy and Don’t Struggle

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, seconds can feel like an eternity when you find yourself pinned down on the mat. What students learn quickly is how to stay relaxed and conserve energy instead of panicking, struggling and tiring themselves out.

For Enneagram Ones, there is an important lesson to be learned from this situation. Instead of battling self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy, approach the situation calmly and tactically. What skills can I use to get out of this situation? What resources can I pull from to help me move forward?

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as in life, the art lies not in senseless struggle but in the strategic allocation of your energy. By redirecting your attention to the present moment and focusing on what you can control, you can leverage your inner drive for perfection to navigate obstacles with greater wisdom.

Lesson Five: For Peak Performance, Rely on Your Support Team 

BJJ practitioners understand the importance of a strong support team. Whether they are a new student or a competitive athlete, they are supported by coaches, mentors, doctors and teammates, who all play a role in their success.

Surrounding yourself with a strong support team is good advice for anyone, but especially for Enneagram Ones who tend to be overly self-reliant and self-critical. A good support team will provide perspective and a safe space for you to express yourself without judgment or criticism. Don't underestimate the power of connecting with like-minded individuals who can walk the path with you. It provides an environment where you can thrive, learn and push your limits. 

William Baptist
William Baptist is a Singapore-based freelance writer who's on a delightful journey of exploring personality theory and its real-life applications. An Enneagram One, he's on a mission to push his limits while keeping his perfectionist tendencies in check (well, most of the time!). When he's not busy crafting stories, you'll find him diving into the depths of the ocean, blending his love for marine life and desire for adventure.