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Stepping Out of the Shadows/[Re]Connecting With
Your Life's Journey

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Awakening the Soul
Chapter 1

By Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.

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A Life of Accommodation or Inspiration?

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.
-Abraham Maslow

I asked the question more out of frustration than anything else. The answer I got meant little to me at the time, but it has stayed with me ever since, taking on deeper and deeper meaning to me as the years have gone by.

I was in ninth grade, returning on a bus with my teammates, having just played the last basketball game of the season. We had lost the game, as usual. With my coach sitting next to me, I was lost deep in my thoughts.

Like I said, I was more frustrated than anything else when I blurted out, “How the hell can you stand it?”

“Stand what?” my coached asked in a somewhat stunned voice.

“This losing. All the time. All we do is lose. And I don’t see it getting any better in the next couple of years. How do you keep going on? How do you maintain your enthusiasm for your job, for the team, for what we’re doing? Why do you keep on coaching?”

“Well, I guess, I guess I just don’t see things quite the way you do.”

He caught my curiosity with that response. “What do you mean by that?” I wondered out loud.

“Well, when I think about coaching the team I don’t measure everything we do by our wins and losses.”

“You don’t. What the hell else matters?” I shot back, feeling somewhat unnerved by his cavalier attitude.

“There are plenty of reasons I coach you guys, the least of which is whether we win or lose basketball games,” my coach responded in his usual matter-of-fact manner.

My voice became shrill as I asked, “What are you trying to do, mess with my head? Like what? Why else would you put all the time and effort into this if you weren’t interested in winning basketball games?”

“Well, one thing I love is working with young kids. It means a lot to me that I can help shape who all of you are becoming.

“Secondly, I love sports. Always have, always will. This gives me an opportunity to stay active in a part of my life that has meant so much to me throughout the years.”

Things were beginning to get a bit thick for me so I thought I would try and inject a note of reality into the discussion. “Yea coach, that’s all well and good, but the truth of the matter is, we suck!”

“Listen, I understand how you may feel the way you do, but being a coach means more to me than just x’s and o’s. It means that I get to be myself for three hours a day for six days of the week.

“It’s a time when I can get away from all the politics of being a teacher, get away from the demands of being a father and a husband, it’s a time each day when I feel like I am doing what I was placed on this earth to do.”

“Yelling and screaming, making us run laps? That’s your life’s calling?” I was beginning to regret ever starting this conversation.

“No, but giving to others, making a difference in somebody else’s life, teaching you guys that there’s more to life than sports and girls. Having a part of my life that’s play, being part of the camaraderie that you have with any sports team, that’s all very important to me. I find it all very rewarding.”

“I don’t know, when you’re yelling at us all the time, I never get the sense that you’re feeling all that rewarded.”

“That’s my point exactly. Coaching sports is rewarding because it lets me live my life in a way that matters to me. Just because I get frustrated, doesn’t mean I feel like coaching isn’t rewarding. In fact, figuring out how to overcome the things that are frustrating me is a part of why coaching is so rewarding.

“That’s why I see winning and losing as a small part of all of this. When I think about us as a team, I think about our squad over the long haul. The outcome of each game is just a marker of where we are and what we have to do next to wind up where we eventually want to be.

“Staying true to that is more important to me than our won-lost record. I guess I’m trying to say a couple of different things to you. Number one, I keep doing this because of the personal satisfaction I get from doing it. I don’t know how else to explain that to you. It’s just something that I believe I was meant to do with my life. I’m happiest when I’m doing things in my life that I was meant to be doing.

“Number two, I keep coaching because coaching allows me to keep growing.

“You ask me how it is I continue. It’s simple. What else would I do? Where else would I go? I don’t make my choices based upon what would alleviate my frustration  or how best to avoid frustrating situations.

“I take whoever I am with me wherever I go. If I’m not true to who I am, I will never be able to escape that frustration. So I make my life choices based upon what situation is the best arena for me to use my innate talents and interests, not what would be the least frustrating for me.

“All the losses don’t discourage me from continuing, because you see, coaching is what I do, but it isn’t who I am. Coaching is the vehicle that enables me to be who I am.”

I wasn’t able to understand it at the time, but my coach was sharing with me his formula for a life of well-being that was built upon his life-choices, life-choices that were a reflection of who he was, his abilities, his interests, his passions, his desire to contribute to other people’s well-being.

He was teaching me about his value system, a value  system different than the one I used to evaluate myself and the events of my life. His message was a simple one, although I didn’t understand it at the time. He was encouraging me not to measure myself by such things as whether you win or lose, make a lot of money or don’t, have a prestigious job or not.

No, he clearly understood something very important. He understood that there was a much more important benchmark to use when we evaluate ourselves, the decisions we make about our lives, how we live our lives, and the basis for the choices we make.

That benchmark? Well I see it more clearly now than back then. Quite simply, our life-choices are a reflection of  our soul.

I never had considered that there would be more to measuring my life. It would be very dramatic to tell you that single conversation made a profound difference in my life, but the truth is, that conversation wasn’t an eye opener at that point in my life. As I said earlier, looking back, I could see it was a beginning, a beginning that took years to bear any fruit.

In my coach’s day, he would say, “I’m just doing what makes me happiest.” How I think about what my coach did was create his own path, a path by which he could [re]connect to his life’s journey. And there are specific steps we all need to take in order to [re]connect to our life’s journey.

The first step to [re]connecting to our life’s journey, is what I refer to it as Awakening the Soul. Let me first ask you, what exactly does that phrase means to you, Awakening the Soul?

Awakening the deeply buried, hidden parts of who we are?

Awakening the unused potential that lives within each and everyone of us?

Awakening those parts of ourselves longing to be given a voice?

Awakening the longings for a life that reflects who we genuinely are?

Awakening the stirrings that have been anesthetized by the judgments and expectations of others?

Awakening the courage that has been cowered by our own high expectations?

Awakening the essence of who we are?

Does any of that fit for you? Perhaps you have your own ideas about what Awakening the Soul means to you. Why not write a short description of what Awakening the Soul means to you?

Whatever Awakening the Soul means to you, make no mistake about this basic point. We will remain in limbo until  we go through a process of awakening. Awakening to who we are by integrating our disowned parts. Awakening to what is important to us by creating a life that reflects our newly created whole self. Awakening to the connection between our life’s journey and living a purposeful life.

G.B.U.

Steve



Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at drfrisch@aliveandwellnews.com  or at
(847) 604-3290.

Recover from chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.

 


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