Cleveland Indians’ fans packed the plane on Tuesday, March 12th, proudly wearing their team’s attire – you know, the hats, shirts, jackets, etc., bearing the admired and controversial Chief Wahoo logo. Well, logo or no logo for Cleveland in 2019, Spring Training is alive and well here in Arizona!
Baseball and softball are loved American traditions! Fans see both successful plays and not successful plays. There’s lots to be learned by everyone during Spring Training. Winning the game means that players follow the rules, “perfect” their positions and commit to focused practice. Everyone enjoys the feeling of a well-played game. It’s fun and it’s challenging. Players grin when the fans cheer, and they bear it when the fans jeer. Whether their team wins or loses, the fans experience an exciting outing because they see what it takes for players to take-on responsibility as individuals committed to teamwork with everyone giving it their best for the sake of the team.
But there is another type of ball game that all of us play every day. The ball in this analogy represents our conversations with others. In fun conversation the words are tossed back and forth to the right person in the right way. In a more challenging conversation someone tosses out his or her issue, hoping the other person will fix it! That never turns out to be such a well-played game.
An example between a teen and mom might look something like this: Daughter Sarah wants desperately to go to the mall with her best friend Ally. Sarah knows that she is not keeping the family agreement. “We can’t go to the mall if our work isn’t done, if we don’t have the money, and if we don’t have a responsible driver.” So Sarah has an issue because her work is not done, and she doesn’t have any money. She spent her cash on her last trip to the mall with Ally. Sarah has “the ball”, so to speak. With another toss she says that she must go today because Ally can’t go again for the next two weeks! Sarah doesn’t want to face her issue and let her friend know that she won’t be able to go. She is embarrassed and not happy.
So she tosses “the ball” to her mom with the plea to go to the mall with her BFF Ally. She begs her, promising that she will do her work as soon as she returns home, and pay her mom back by next week for the money borrowed. Sarah tossed this to her mother to fix her situation, hoping it will end in her favor by side-stepping the family rules. This game might not end well.
Sarah tosses “her ball” to her mom again! Mom refuses and begins the ritual of repeating the rules. Sarah loudly and firmly defends her point! Tempers flare!! Sarah is not following the rules of the game and she’s not being a responsible team player. The game is not a very pleasant one, and Sarah is not getting on base, much less hitting a homerun.
Sarah now throws “the ball” back to her mom again with a higher-pitched voice. The girls do have a responsible driver and Sarah really, really will pay her mom back by next week and do her work before dinner! “Please, Mom,” she begs.
Imagine this scene the next time someone attempts to give you their issue. Will you be taken-in by feeling responsible to carry someone else’s problem? Is it theirs or is it yours? Can you toss the issue back and stand your ground, or are you going to catch that ball and somehow make it your own, when it really is not yours? Your name isn’t on every issue! Can you make a concerted effort not catch the ball that is not yours? Can you say, “That’s not mine to solve”?
An unpleasant ball game may lead to hard feelings, arguments, frustration, hot tempers and a lost game, whether with teammates, friends, or family! If that second baseman throws the fly ball to the wrong player, there is likely going to be an unpleasant outcome. Issues can only be addressed by the person who owns them!
Asking for advice or seeking support from a coach is quite different from trying to get someone else to fix the issue! Every issue remains each individual’s responsibility based on the agreed-upon rules and fair play.
Let’s play ball? If so, let’s play fair. Let’s take responsibility for what is ours to do and not take on issues that are not ours. Let’s not even attempt to catch a ball that does not belong in our hands, and let’s not give our issues to someone else.
Stay aware, stay healthy and play ball!
In Good Conversation with You!
Spiritual Guide and Wholistic Health Coach
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