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What I Learned from Football Season


I’ve been watching football lately. Forgive me now if these analogies are going to be hard for you because you don’t understand football. I barely understand it myself, but I am in the habit of pulling great life lessons from anywhere I can, so here goes.

1) IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ‘EM, JOIN ‘EM

For years I felt abandoned by the men in my life when football season came around. My father and brother would disappear for an entire Sunday and go into Zombie mode. On good days, I fell asleep watching, trying to like it. On other Sundays, I just felt left out.

Then I married a man who loves football and in the first few years of our relationship, I felt the same exclusion and then resentment. When I realized about five years ago my husband wasn’t going to change and that I chose him fully knowing about this interest of his (and mind you, my husband is a family man, he is around, he takes care of the kids, has weekly dates with me, does chores and has NO other dangerous, expensive or travel-requiring hobbies or interests!) a wonderful thing happened: I decided to like football.

I used my intelligence and force of will to sit down one Sunday and learn some of the rules and teams. I asked my husband about some of the dramatic history and I let myself feel his pleasure in the thrill of competition.

People, it is surprising to me how quickly I learned to like it once I decided I would. It’s a fun, fast, dynamic, exciting sport, and let’s face it, rooting for YOUR team is quite fun. Maybe I resented my husband for his weekly escape/adventure, because I was jealous? We are both palpably relieved on Sundays now knowing we’ll both get to relax and share the agonies and ecstasies of the game together.

PONDER: Imagine bringing curiosity, attention and love to something in your life you’ve been rejecting or feeling rejected by. What might it open up?

2) IT’S ALL IN HOW YOU LOOK AT IT

While watching a football game, sometimes I forget which team I am rooting for (this is how you know I am new at it. LOL). In the instant, I look at things from the “other” team’s perspective, everything changes. What I notice is different and how I feel is different. I think this proves the amazing power of the mind to choose what it focuses on. What I think of how the officials call plays and penalties, whether or not I perceive a receiver to be in or out of bounds, whether or not I consider roughness “necessary,” what I think of field position, what I think of the weather that day or the noise in the stadium- all of these completely change depending on who I am rooting for. To be specific, I think crowd noise is totally justified when it’s my team’s fans making it, but rude and childish when it’s fans of the other team. Isn’t that fascinating? I am far more likely to “see” my team catch a ball in bounds on an important game, than I am to think my opponents completed the same play successfully. Isn’t it amazing what the mind can do with information depending on how it wants to perceive it?

PONDER: How are your judgments and opinions coloring your perception of someone or something important in your life? If you had to start rooting for that person or thing right now, what new data might you allow to enter your awareness?

3) WHO ARE YOU ROOTING FOR?

At some point in the game, if my team looks like it’s going to lose, and time is running out, well, I might, for a minute, accidentally, start rooting for the other team. I was shocked when I first noticed my ability to be so traitorous so of course I analyzed it. I do not like to lose. I get hurt and mad at my team for not playing well and then I feel justified in comforting myself by aligning myself with the team that looks like it will win (even just for a little while). I don’t want to feel the disappointment of being wrong, so I switch at the last minute to “hedge my bets.” It gets me through. Isn’t that creepy? Not so harmful when it’s football, but in real life, when I give up my dream or goal before the end of the game, it’s way sadder and more detrimental.

PONDER: Under what circumstances do you stop rooting for your dreams and fall back on being right about it not turning out? Would you be willing to (vulnerably) hold out longer in 2011 for what you really deep down want? I will if you will.

May all your teams make it to the playoffs and may you all win your personal Super Bowls.

Happy New Year!

Love,

Laurie

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