Fist Fights + All The Feels

 
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Last Saturday was the final regular season baseball game for Bigs. Hubs was at work, so it was me + the three littles at the ballpark cheering her on.

Full moon energy flying high.

(Read: This mama’s resources were tapped.)

Bigs was on the mound early in the game - and her pitches were flying EvERywHeRe.

A SURGE of anxiousness hits me. And then the inner dialogue begins.

That’s not like her. Huh. She ok? I take my eyes away from wild Littlest to really watch. Her energy is off.

Internal dialogue kicks up more. Walk. After walk. She’s stressed. I’m stressed. I can feel my irritation building + my shorter fuse with the little three. {Who are always hungry and need to pee - especially when Big Sis is up at bat or on the mound.}

Inner dialogue ramps. RELAX. She’s NINE. It’s a game. This isn’t about you.

Texts from hubs. Phone buzzing. Energy swirling. Bigs is wiping down the balls with a towel. Are they wet? Oh. They are wet.

(Note: I didn’t really know what that meant until hubs gave me the pitcher run down on throwing wet baseballs. Who knew?)

I feel my body relax.

Then BOOM.

The echo made me cringe. Ball went right into his rib.

Every part of me wanted to run out on the field, scoop her up and run away.

I watched her face sink and behavior get edgy - pushing teammates away to give herself space.

Her emotions so stormy. I could feel it.

BECAUSE MINE WERE TOO.

It was a tough outing and tough game.

Thankfully, I have the skills to respond to these MEGA waves of emotion.

Because, this is just a game. We are talking 9 year old baseball. And because, this is not about me.

She got back up on the mound and finished the inning.

Her courage to get back up there moved me. It does every time she’s out there - regardless of how she’s throwing.

And. I’m human.

She’s my daughter. I’m competitive to my core. And it doesn’t feel good when things aren’t going well for my kid. It’s easy to lose perspective.

Instead of beating myself up over it, I’ve come to accept it. I get fired up.

And.

I get to choose how I respond.

I own my actions.

And those actions have consequences. Which is why I had a lot to say about the parents who got in a fist fight at a youth baseball game.

A GROUP of parents. Brawling. In front of their 7 yos.

I was viscerally ill.

And. I get it.

By ‘it’ I mean the emotional surges that come roaring in when our kids are in pain - when they struggle - or when we think something isn’t fair.

When the tools we have aren’t working - and I’d argue that physically fighting at a baseball game is evidence of that ;

It’s our job to cultivate new skills + get new tools.

And that takes effort. Especially when it comes to emotions.

//

I started this blog last Wednesday night, but decided to go Live on FB instead. Raw + unfiltered to share my own internal struggle - and my response to the parents involved in that brawl.

So much more inside - this conversation - and I encourage you to join in.

Here are a few of the takeaways:

1. To move the conversation forward + shift the culture in youth sports, WE all need to own our emotions and do the work.

We are going to feel big feelings - that’s part of being human.

I couldn’t control the initial wave of anxiety that hit me; I could + did control my response to it.

I put down my phone. Tuned into my body and focused on my breath. That response allowed me to show up for Bigs in a way that felt aligned with who I want to be.

2. Our child’s performance isn’t a reflection of our worthiness.

Unhinge those conditions. And that means BOTH ways. Successes + failures. We are not better parents and/or more worthy of love when our kids are doing well. It doesn’t work that way.

Hinging our self-worth to their performance is a massive burden for them and a driver of wild, harmful behavior for us.

Which leads me to this question: How are we defining successes + failures? What does that even mean, big picture? In our FB Live convo, Coach Mike shared this:

 
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3. No one is perfect.

We’ve all crossed the line at some point and acted in a way that wasn’t aligned with our values. We’ve all reacted out of emotion at some point. The questions to ask ourselves:

Are we owning those actions + consequences? Are we learning from those experiences?

4. Even though I’m an instructor of mindfulness practices and teach a course on emotional agility, it still takes effort for me to respond in a way that’s aligned.

There’s no such thing as arriving to a place free from struggle. Our power is in the noticing + responding - and both of those muscles get stronger over time.

It gets easier, but is never easy.

5. Blaming = when we are so uncomfortable with our emotions, we throw them onto others.

This is a big one for all of us - and one we talk about all.the.time in this house.

It’s OK for us to feel stormy inside; it’s NOT OK for us to take that storm and throw it onto others.

Sitting with discomfort is HARD. It’s easier to discharge it onto others than it is to sit with the emotional pain.

When Bigs’ came home, she started talking about how the player leaned into her pitch; she was blaming him. Maybe he did. And. I knew that she hadn’t finished processing the emotions of that moment. So, I asked her what if he didn’t? And out came the emotion underneath.

6. We must allow our kids to FALL. And FEEL. Without fixing ... or fighting.

See #5. Fixing and fighting are different forms of blame. It’s a way to offload the hurt we are feeling.

When WE (as their parents + coaches + mentors) aren’t able to sit with our own uncomfortable feelings, it makes it near impossible to hold space while our kids sit with theirs.

Another reason I created that course. Emotional agility is a fundamental skill set that helps us navigate our own internal world so we can show up in a way that’s aligned with how we want to show up.

6A. We must allow our kids to see us FALL. And FEEL.

I told Bigs how I felt when she hit the batter. She laughed when I told her I wanted to run on the field, scoop her up and run away. And then she exhaled and snuggled in close. Because, we finished the story. Come to find out - she felt a massive wave of emotion and wanted to cry out there. Sharing my feelings with her opened up space to share with her how I chose to respond.

It’s OK to feel. We’re gonna feel all sorts of things. Our power is in our response.

7. We can SAY we love them unconditionally, but if we are ranting + pacing + fuming + analyzing + behaving in a way that says differently, the message isn’t going to land.

When our kids make a mistake and look over to see our response, what will they see? If our actions don’t match our words, our kids are left to make meaning of the mixed messages.

If I value growth and am freaking out at my kids every time they make a mistake or fall short, there’s a disconnect. If I value progress over outcome and am only focusing on final scores and test results, there’s a disconnect.

Are our actions in alignment with our values? It’s a simple question that can reveal so much. The good news here is that we can do the work in that space between to step back into alignment.

8. How do you react/ respond when your kid makes mistakes? Or falls short? Or gets treated unfairly?

Ask yourself. And then share with us.

Bottom line: When we’re getting into fist fights at youth sporting events, we have to ask ourselves what is going on here.

We owe it to our kids to do better.

It’s time to show up and do the work. Together.

P.S. She let me scoop her up + snuggle after our post-game chat.

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Samantha Arsenault Livingstone is an Olympic Gold Medalist, high-performance consultant, mental performance coach, speaker, educator and entrepreneur. She is the founder of Livingstone High Performance, LLC., and two, multi-module online courses, the Rise Free Academy and Ride the Wave: A Bootcamp to Strengthen Our Emotional Agility — inspiring, empowering and equipping athletes, coaches and female leaders with the skills they need to become more mindful, courageous, resilient leaders.

In addition to private and group coaching, Samantha consults with teams and organizations on athlete wellness initiatives, leadership, strategic planning, rising skills and developing high-performance cultures. She is a certified instructor of Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE) and as of September 1, 2019 will be an certified instructor of Mental Health First Aid. 

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Samantha and her husband, Rob, live in the Berkshires with their four girls. To learn more about her offerings, go over to www.samanthalivingstone.com