SELF-DELUSION

My niece is an amazing softball player.  She was just in Florida with her team in some series that attracts a significant amount NCAA scouts. Apparently, the competition was fierce. A key player on her team was ejected very early in the series.  Their star pitcher was taunted by an aggressive player on their opponent’s team.  She let emotion get the best of her and retaliated with no regard to consequences.  Her thinly veiled rage was detected, which is why she was charged with intentionally hitting a batter.  This is grounds for dismissal. After this huge misstep, the  team fell apart and they lost in a blow-out.

My son tells me that in soccer, savvy players will scout out the weakest link and make every attempt to break them down emotionally so they will react like a pressure valve and call a foul on themselves. I like that he knows this, which has taught him to understand the impact of giving one’s power away.  He has learned to see right through taunting and use it to his advantage channeling that energy and adrenaline to enhance his own performance.  Unfortunately, my niece’s teammate did not understand that she was falling for one of the oldest tricks in the book.  She stooped even lower than her antagonist.  She hurt her chances with the scouts behaving like a loose cannon in a high stakes environment.  She also hurt her team by depriving them of an important aspect of their strategy – her.

Coincidently, I am friends with the pitcher’s parents.  I promise you, they blamed her dismissal on biased refereeing.  They denied that the hit was intentional and decried the refs for not intervening to punish the taunting that led up to it.  This is a girl who has won prestige for her community service and  respect for activism at church.  The parents are anti-bad behavior!  It was very clear to me that their love of righteousness only worked one way…. for them.  When someone else acts out – they are sinning.  When one of theirs acts out, it is because they have been pushed to it by victimization.  Then I pointed out their self-deluded sweet-spot to my sister in some good old-fashioned gossipy back-stabbing.  This is when my alarms starting blaring!The-Two-Way-Mirror-of-Character-in-Relationships

Here I was, the teacher of the mirror philosophy, pointing out a hypocrite as if the very act of doing so wasn’t utterly hypocritical!  I had to stop to accept and  forgive my self-delusion so I wouldn’t be swallowed by my shame and begin trying to rationalize or justify my behavior.  Rather, I admitted it to my sister and explained all the various ways I have done what she did and how easy it is to fall into her parents’ trap… as I had so clearly just demonstrated.  My God, this stuff is insidious   Everything I spot – there I am!!  This is why I affirm quite often that I intend to see and assume the best in all encounters and situations.  As I always say, I am  a work in progress that looks like two steps forward and one step back, two steps forward…..

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He assumed the worst

Assuming the best in the face of evidence to the contrary takes practice.  The other day I drove my son and his friends back from the team lunch to their second game of a  soccer tournament at Columbia University in NYC. There was a line to get back on campus because there were no parking spaces left.  We figured that would happen, which is why we all carpooled to lunch and back. The boys needed to collect their gear from various locations where their parents had parked on the campus and get to their next game.  I charmed the guard into letting me drive on campus to do just that, promising I would return and park on the street immediately after I dropped them off.  In the meantime, some father came up to my window all out of breath as I dropped them off. He began to berate me for hijacking a parking spot from people who had waited patiently on a line. He had clearly assumed the worst.  I looked at him from inside my car.  He looked like he was going to have a heart attack – either from chasing me around the campus in sub-zero weather or unnecessary, self-induced high blood pressure from self-righteous anger.  It all seemed so unnecessary. I asked him why he thought I was planning to park.  assuming the worstHe responded, “Well, I just assumed.”  He did what most of us would do.  He assumed the worst.  When he learned that I had no intention of parking, shame prevented him from apologizing.  He just walked away in a huff.

I’m never happy about being in one of these exchanges because I know that nothing exists without a cause.  Before I got on my high horse and ride around town feeling better than him, I had to stop to figure out when I had jumped all over someone this way either in thought or in speaking .  He was a mirror.  Knowing that I didn’t want to go too many rounds on this vicious circle, I decided to assume the best giving him the benefit of the doubt. I sent him a silent blessing and moved on.  I am grateful for the opportunity to see how our perspective skews our vision.  I intend to catch myself before I do this to people knowing that like everything else in life, this process of self-improvement will unfold for me with two steps forward and on backward, then two steps forward and…

JUST RELEASED – THE ULTIMATE EXPERT Podcast # 4

I believe that under all of your formal education and social conditioning, you have an inner expert that knows what’s best for you. YOU are the ultimate expert, and this is your podcast. It’s free, it’s fun, and this week’s episode is available right now. Click on the image to listen to Episode 4

  Now Playing: Episode 4: Brandon Farrell

– OVERCOMING FRUSTRATION –

20-year-old Brandon Farrell asks about being able to control his emotions. A valuable conversations about living a meaningful life of our choosing ensues.