After reading an article on who Rickson Gracie trained with to get better I picked up a tip that I’ve been using to improve my defence already as a white belt. The article talks about how Rickson would let students get him in more and more disadvantageous positions, slowly letting them get closer and closer to having a submission applied before he started trying to escape. He would be making small adjustments, getting comfortable with each level of danger, already having an escape plan ready for when he let them get close to a submission.
While I’m not about to start giving away positions/submissions to my training partners, I don’t need to. I get caught plenty already anyway. So now instead of giving up if I feel trapped in a position, or a submission is close but not on yet, I’ll try make one small adjustment. It’s much easier to think “Ok, just make one small change.” rather than “If I don’t escape right now I’m screwed!”. It’s just a small mental hack, but it makes a difference. I always have the energy for one small adjustment, and one success leads into another, and into another, and then escaping bad positions/submissions doesn’t seem as insurmountable.