Have you ever watched a kid’s soccer game? One with 6-year-olds? You watch two teams of kids and every single one of them wants the ball. There is no organization, and if a goal is made it is by luck more than skill because everyone is trying to be the one in charge. Now think of all you wants, wishes and would-likes. The want to play and have fun, the want to be seen as responsible, the want to be accepted and acceptable, the fears of failure and the desire to be successful, the want to tell the world exactly where it can go and how it can get there, the desire to make the people around you happy, the desire to make yourself happy, the desire to let your hair flow free and the desire to be professional. Imagine all of your wants, wishes and would-likes, and all of your fears as the players of the game. All of these players want the ball and think they all know best what to do with it and how to score a goal.
When you go watch a soccer game with anyone over the age of 12 the game changes. There are organized positions, each player knowing their role and knowing that if they play their part it increases the chance of winning the game. No-one is fighting their teammate for control of the ball, everyone is working cohesively for one purpose.
Most of the people I work with have yet to get all players working together. They are fighting for control of the ball and the one that is the strongest grabs control, picks up the ball and runs whatever direction they want to go with it. You, the coach, are no longer in control. The trick is to get each player to stop thinking they have the only way of reaching their goal. Most of them have similar goals; happiness, peace and safety. They just have disagreements on how to get the ball there. If they start to work together you won’t feel pulled in so many directions, or as out of control.
We want to think that our brain is in control of our actions. Though people can recognize that their heart can take over when they are in love, and people often feel butterflies or knots in their stomach when stressed. Many people have known the place where their heart is leading them on while their stomach is in knots. The heart wants connection and the zing of love, and the stomach wants to avoid the pain of rejection. There may also be a place even lower down that has it’s thoughts on some more carnal desires as well. This sounds like a bunch of players all fighting for the ball, doesn’t it.
The first step is to listen. If you ask your heart what it wants, it will speak to you, you just forgot to listen somewhere along the way. For some of us we had to stop listening because if we followed our heart we would have gotten in trouble. Our stomach knows how to stay safe, but sometimes what it wants is to go home, shut the door, close the curtains and eat ice-cream forever. It usually wants to avoid getting hurt and avoid rejection. When I can listen to the different faces of myself, and hear what they want I can start acting as a coach. When my heart wants connection and love, my stomach wants safety and to avoid pain, my throat wants to avoid talking about my embarrassing truths, and a little lower down wants…well…you know, I have to manage the wants and desires. I have to guide each player, pushing some forward, pulling some back, and working with each to use their strengths for the benefit of the team.
In any given situation we have many players wanting game time, for different goals and different reasons. As the coach, we have to sort through them, find the players that are best for the situation at handle, and play them to their strengths. As the coach, working to avoid judging the players that want things that are less than helpful or less than healthy is important. In the above situation I work with my heart to allow me to find connections, while using my anxiety to keep me aware and safe, hopefully avoiding a problematic situation with a partner that is less than safe and less than healthy. My heart would have me leap before I look and my stomach would have me be lonely. If I can get them to work together neither feels neglected and both feel as though they are part of something bigger.
A kiddo that I work with is struggling because she wants to be loved and accepted, she wants to be seen as fun, and she wants to stand up for herself and not take any shit. Her wants are pulling her in separate directions and causing anxiety. We are working on being able to give each of her wants a job, and letting each want see that they are not opposite of each other. The more confident she is the more she will be comfortable around people and the more comfortable she will be being herself. The more herself she can be, the more accepted she will be by others in general. The keys are to get each or the parts to quit fighting the other, and to see how they can work together to achieve both goals.
When you learn to listen to your anxieties and angers, your wants and desires, you can learn to start using them and directing them. You can get them to work together and stop feeling as pulled apart. You are the coach, and you have to take control of the players. Let them play to their strengths, and make sure each of them has a part to play. If they feel ignored or neglected, each player will revert to taking over and hogging the ball. Each part of you has valid wants, and ultimately wants the best for you, even though the way they try to get those needs met may actually set you back. Giving the players set tasks and letting them see how you are helping work toward the goals will lessen the anxiety and increase feeling in control and confident.