Human behavior is fluid and primarily determined by what we think about the situation we find ourselves in. Connecting Across Differences: Finding Common Ground with Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime
I was watching my grandson’s basketball game yesterday and was so entranced watching his coach during the game. This man was so enjoying the game no matter what the players did. Of course when they were executing plays well and making baskets he was smiling and shouting encouraging words. But even when they weren’t, he was smiling and shouting encouraging words.
I was so amazed because I remembered going to my daughter’s volleyball games when she was young and actually hiding my face when things weren’t going well for her. She finally asked me to stop coming. I couldn’t help it. I knew I was grimacing and so would hide my face.
So I found his attitude amazing. He would even joke with the referees and officials about plays.
How he could be like this? How was he not caught up in the game, in the “mistakes”? How was he not getting frustrated when plays weren’t followed through? I think it’s because the game to him was exactly that, a game. He was enjoying all of it. When things didn’t go the way they were planned, it’s as though he laughed in astonishment, surprise. When we are playing and aren’t wrapped up in the outcome of winning or loosing, we can just enjoy the surprise of unexpected twists and turns. It actually makes the game more interesting.
I realized I was longing not only to be able to enjoy watching my family partake in sports without getting caught up in feelings of disappointment or frustration, I wanted to live my life that way. Marshall Rosenberg suggests we shouldn’t do anything that isn’t play.
He suggested we make a list of all the things we think we have to do, and then explore why we are doing them. If we can find life-serving reasons to be doing them, then by all means keep that up. Just the awareness of how doing those things meets your needs will help you bring an entirely different energy to it.
For those things that you can’t find life-serving reasons to be doing them, stop. Why spend your life doing things you don’t like, and don’t meet any needs for you?
I asked my grandson how he liked the coach. He told me he was great, he was pretty sure he had passed on an NBA career to coach junior league basketball teams. I don’t know about that, but I do know that man was contributing to a team of kids and enjoying every minute of it. And I’m celebrating that my grandson is getting to watch an adult model how life can be a wonderful, surprising game.
In light of what has just happened in Paris, I want to be clear, I don’t believe life is always happy. I believe we experience losses that stimulate great grief. I’m also celebrating the ability to see these occurrences through the lens of empathic communication. I strongly want to be able to hold my heart open and see the needs of all involved. More on this next week.
Heather Schlessman, PhD is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who has spent her career either working with or teaching about families. She is also a mother who, like so many other parents, spent years muddling her way raising 3 wonderfully different children, one who happens to be experiencing a disability. Fortunately she has a life partner who muddled along with her. Spending most of her time trying to be perfect, as that would be the safest way to live, she became aware of a desire to be able to see people in a more compassionate way. Little did she know that the person she needed the most compassion for was herself. There is a saying that when you are ready to learn a teacher will appear, and so it was for Dr. Schlessman. She was introduced to the work of Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, the developer of Nonviolent Communication, and her world completely changed. She learned a way to have an intimate connection with herself and others, a way to truly contribute. Her passion now is to help others find their way to a more compassionate life. You can find more of Dr. Schlessman’s empathic expressions along with her husband’s, Rev. Mark Schlessman on their website.