Tennis Lessons and Parenting With Your Ex

Down the long and winding road of divorce and co-parenting with your ex, I found any number of opportunities to judge myself and beat myself up. It happens, for sure, but I would like to suggest another, more healthy option – self-compassion.

When we beat ourselves, we are focusing on what we did that did not work rather than on what we can do differently. When we say, “I have to stop doing x, y, or z”, we typically fail to suggest an alternative to the unwanted behavior. As a result, we cannot replace the old behaviors with a “don’t do that” for two reasons. First, there is nothing to replace the “don’t” with, and second, what we hear in our brain when we say, “don’t do x” is actually, “DO x”. So what do we do? We end up repeating the same behaviors even when we desperately want to do something different. I know you know what I mean!!

When we judge ourselves we question, “Why would I do such a stupid thing?” When we do that, we are not likely to understand “why” we made the choice we did because we are actively engaging a part of the brain that can only judge, blame and criticize. In other words, the answer to “why would I do such a stupid thing” would be an answer like, “because he is such jerk, he deserved it.” Or, “because I always do that, I’ll never change.” These responses may take the edge off for the moment, but in the long run, are likely to keep you from making any real change. Furthermore, they are disempowering. Rather than empowering you to make a change, when you judge the other person, then the only hope is that the other person will change. When you judge yourself, แทงบอลufabet the likelihood you will change is similarly rather limited because you have not provided an alternative way to behave.

I am all too familiar with judging myself and beating myself up. I used to do it quite a lot. I could get so upset and stuck in my own self-pity that nothing would change. I played competitive tennis as a child and would get so upset with myself if I did not play well, hit the ball where I wanted or intended to or couldn’t run fast enough. When I was upset, there was no way I could hear from my coach what I needed to do to adjust my swing to play better. Instead, I had a story I told myself; เว็บคาสิโน I was slow and would never run fast and so I didn’t bother to try to improve my speed. After all, I would never improve. You can see how self-defeating this was for me. Can you hear how much I wallowed in self-pity?

When I was angry, frustrated and even discouraged, I could not learn or improve. Even when the coach would tell me what to do differently, if it didn’t work immediately or if I made the same mistake later, I’d beat myself up and judge myself all over again. At those times, my brain and body were so consumed by intense emotions I could not integrate the help my coach was trying to give me. At these times, I imagine I wasn’t that much fun at all to be with!

Recently I took a few tennis lessons while visiting my parents in Florida. I had not played tennis for 2 decades or more. My expectations were low. All I really wanted to do was have some fun and play tennis again without the pressure of having to perform or win. Many times I did not hit the ball well and I definitely did not run as fast as I used to. But what I noticed amazed me. I never got mad at myself.

I was able to see what I needed to do to correct my swing to play better, and lo and behold, when I made the change in my swing it improved my play. The times I could not figure out what I was doing “wrong”, I’d ask the pro and then would make the necessary adjustment. I was completely open and receptive to the feedback and learning.

I did not stop and judge my mistakes as a statement of my goodness, skill or self-worth. Rather, I celebrated how well I played after having not played for 2 decades. I was even impressed with how fast I ran and how often I was able to get to the “short” or drop balls. It was a COMPLETE BLAST!

What does this silly story have to do with why you shouldn’t judge yourself or beat yourself up? I learned an incredibly valuable lesson through this experience. When our regrets lead us to judge ourselves and beat ourselves up, we are usually closed to learning something new and find ourselves stuck in some version of a story about not being good enough and that we cannot and will not change. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

On the other hand, self-compassion supports our growth and transformation because we approach our mis-steps and mistakes from a forgiving perspective rather than from one of judgment and criticism. You meet yourself with kindness and understanding. It’s as if you say to yourself, “I see that you are suffering and I care about that. Sometimes life is hard.” It means to let go of the mistaken belief that you (or anyone) needs or is supposed to be perfect. It means to accept your shortcomings as opportunities for growth and learning rather than as indications of being “less than” or not worthy. As we heal from the trauma of divorce, our ability to hold ourselves (and others) with compassion rather than with judgment becomes a more natural response.


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