Last week was a challenge.
My daughter, a soccer goalie, dealt with two games that they lost in sudden death. They were heartbreaking losses. One was a game that we actually believed we had won, but time had run out. Just as overtime started, so did the rain. The wet ball slipped through my daughter’s hands. The next game went into a second overtime. Another sad loss. This one a missed kick and an opponent who slipped past and to the goal.
Since these games, though, our Team seems to be playing more effectively together. True, we haven’t had any wins, but, I think, the girls are working as a unit—nice passing, defense and support of each other. Yet right after those losses, the coach seemed to be struggling. She is young and appeared to have lost her enthusiasm for the Team. Perhaps she was trying to use some tough love to motivate her players when she told them that no one’s position was secure. But for many of the girls, this tactic didn’t seem to be work. Her pronouncements left players unsettled. Her frustration was palpable in practices when she told the players that she didn’t have anything else to teach them and sent them off to practice on their own. I can understand her frustration, but as role models we need to rise above some of our personal feelings. Since then, she has become more supportive. She has worked to make practices fun and has encouraged the players to communicate and work together on the field. Fingers crossed for today’s game.
Yet all this brings up a couple of questions. Does tough love work? Or does it discourage people? In our Clinic we often have to discuss consequences to help keep the focus on recovery. This can be a positive push. If tough love happens this way—it can be helpful. Once the coach told the Team that they had strengths, but also things they needed to work on—great. Once she gave them drills to help them practice their skills and made them work—great. But when she was in that place of giving up on them—that only encouraged the girls to give up on themselves.
Last week we also had a scare about a family member who had to undergo neurosurgery. Her surgery went well and she is healing. Yet when she was enduring that experience, suddenly the sudden death of the soccer games seemed inconsequential. There are times when we need to take a step back and look at the big picture. Physical and emotional health needs to be our primary focus. I saw a Facebook post the other day that said, “It is easier to build up a child than it is to repair an adult…choose your words wisely.” This is so true.
- What challenges have you had to deal with in your life? What happened? How did you feel about the experience? What did you learn? In journaling group last week individuals wrote about different character traits. One woman wrote about resiliency. One thing that was fascinating about her description—she acknowledged that she can’t get back to where she was before her eating disorder when she was happy. Yet she can become happy again—just in a different place. She is appreciating and understanding her strengths as she makes it through the challenge of her eating disorder. What have you learned about yourself as you have come through challenges? What new strengths have you discovered?
- What are you experiences with tough love and/or other types of love? Our perceptions of love or responses from people in our lives can affect what we expect as we move forward. If our past failures have led to sharp criticisms or intense silent treatment, that can affect what we expect in the present. That can influence our actions. If we worry about others’ responses, we might limit our opportunities. If we think that we are going to be berated if we can’t be perfect at something—we may not try. But if you don’t try new things, think of everything you’ll miss out on!
- What kinds of words have been inflicted on you? In the past? Now? Past words can contribute to present thoughts. What kind of thoughts/expectations are you putting on yourself?
- Consider, though, bigger issues—life and death issues—have you thought about what is important in your life? Journal about your dreams…what do you want to make sure doesn’t get left undone? If you had to leave your house, what would you make sure you took with you? Why? What areas of your life feel fabulous? What areas feel that they still need to be worked on? Think about your priorities. Make certain that you are following your own unique path.
Go, Write On!
Martha Peaslee Levine, MD