Connecting With Your Purpose
Shame, Blame, Control & Chaos
There comes a point in your athletic career that you will realize that the price of winning is dealing with losing.
Losing hurts a whole lot more than winning feels good. How you deal with losing, much more than how you deal with winning, will determine the course of your relationships – not only your relationships with other people but your relationship with yourself.
Shame, blame, control, chaos
Remember these four words: shame, blame, control, chaos.
These are the ways in which we cope with the emotional pain of losing. And what happens when you let this be how you cope? You only feel safe and secure when you win.
Do you know the story of Andre Agassi?
At the age of seven, he’s already hit one million practice balls in his own backyard. His father then puts him in a car and drives him to tournaments all over the Southwestern United States.
Because they live in Nevada, they cross the Hoover Dam every time. He sees all this water surging against the dam and guess what he thinks of? He thinks about his father’s anger and how it’s only a matter of time until it bursts. Therefore, there’s only one thing seven-year-old Andre knows to do: to go for higher ground when his father is angry.
Can you guess what higher ground is for him? It’s winning. He feels safe and secure when he’s winning, and that strategy actually works for him for a very long time. Seven-year old Agassi has been competing against boys aged 10 and he has been winning every single match – until he gets to San Diego.
At the San Diego match, he gets beaten at the very last moment by a boy who cheats.
Picture this: it’s a tie. He hits a ball in, but the boy decides to call it out. In juniors, the players are the linesman and there’s no appeal. So, the boy is publicly cheating, but it doesn’t matter. Andre has lost. And what is his response? Shame.
Even after one million practice balls, he thinks: “What is the point? I am now imperfect. I will have a loss on my record and there’s nothing I can ever do to change it. I am permanently blemished.”
When he is older, he writes: “After hearing my father’s voice nagging and negatively assessing me, it’s no longer my father’s voice, it is my own.”
I do not have to have my father shaming me. I can torture myself.
Isn’t that so very common?
In America, we have a tendency to emphasize shame and self-loathing as the torment we need to push us to try harder. If we hate ourselves when we lose, we’ll find the willpower to be a champion.
Now, that might work for a while, but the problem with shaming yourself to success is that it’s the emotional equivalent of self-harm. You are lacerating yourself to try to get better, and when you win, you discover that a win doesn’t heal all the scars you’ve inflicted on yourself. If you tell yourself that you can only like yourself when you win, then that mantra – “believe in yourself and you can do all things” – is moot, because how can you believe in yourself when you’re constantly shaming yourself?
Shaming says that you don’t believe you have any value. And when you get tired of shaming yourself, what’s the next thing you do? You blame the people around you. Not only does your shame cut you off from yourself, it cuts you off from the very people around you who are trying to help.
If you get in the habit of blaming when things go wrong, you will become unteachable, un-coachable. You stop trusting the people who can help you improve and it becomes a downward spiral which, eventually, spins out of control.
So, how does that work in relationships?
“I’m going to make sure this person doesn’t walk away and hurt me. I’m going to control them.”
What do you suppose that does? That just makes them want to walk away because … well, would you want to be controlled? But, if you are tired of hurting and if you have shamed yourself and don’t really think you are loveable, then you are probably afraid that if you don’t control that person, if they really find out what you know about you they will eventually walk away. So, you cling, and you lose.
What often follows is that you feel isolated and lonely. You are addicted to winning but are still not satisfied with winning. Even if you don’t like the life, you don’t want to give up the lifestyle. You might use drugs, alcohol, video games, music or anything to block out the emotions, and soon, you find that what you are using to escape the pain creates chaos in your relationships and in your life. Eventually, the partying you do off-the-field to cope with the pressure on the field will undermine your ability to be fit for the game.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
You’re probably going to hear what I’m saying as condemnation, and that’s not how it is intended. I’m not here to tell you that you screwed up and you need to get your life together, I’m saying that I know what it’s like to live for achievement and to find that it only creates chaos in your life.
What I want to do today is to give you some of the comfort, some of the hope, some of the power for a better way of life – a way that can make life beautiful from the inside out.
You connect with your purpose.
And what is that purpose? It is to receive love and then pass it on. You have that power.
Allow sport to be the vehicle by which you connect to a higher purpose, one that changes lives for the better. First, though, you need to find your own source of love. Only then can you truly share it with others.
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