Yesterday my son was pulled from his hockey game.
As a goalie, this is how it goes.
When the score gets away on the team, they switch out the goalies -
hoping a fresh injection of a new player will turn the tide of the game.
On lots of levels this makes sense.
You cannot really switch anyone else.
You cannot ask the forwards to play defense or vice versa.
So the goalies are the one player they look to ‘mix it up’ with.

Make sense, unless you are of course the goalie they are pulling from the game.

Rarely is this a moment of logic but instead a feeling of dread sinks in.
The things my son says to himself in these moments are:
“It is my fault”
“I let my team down”
“I suck”

Or worse.

I do not worry so much about what Jack feels in the moment
but instead worry about what he believes long after the game is done.
About himself.

I have learned a lot over the years watching jack in net.
Loving it when all the stars align and jack and his team put on a stellar performance.  And equally hating it on days when everything falls apart and my son leaves the rink feeling devastated.
When you are the goalie it seems to be an all glory or all shame kind of deal.

So as a ‘goalie mom’ - which I assure you is infinitely harder than a ‘hockey mom’ - I have employed various strategies that might help you if you have ever have to support someone in your life who is feeling like they suck.

Strategy number 1: The cheerleader.  This strategy only allows you to be POSITIVE.  Say nothing negative.  Just keep your spirits up and they will follow suit just by your enthusiastic view of life.

Result: Rarely works.  In fact totally disallows the person you are supporting the luxury of simply feeling like crap.  Or just feeling something other than happy.

Strategy number 2:  The coach.  This is where you hit them with personal development right away.  Say things like “Lean into the lesson here or "what is the gift of this game-or-thing-gone-wrong?”

Result:  Even worse than the cheerleader.  As a life coach you know I am have employed #2 waaaaaaay too often in my mini-van-lecture hall and basically rushed the whole process of well, processing it for more than a nanosecond.

Strategy number 3: The witness.  This is where you simply witness what is happening and are just there.  Not for motivational speeches, cliche sayings or to fix anything at all.  You just show up and say very little other than “I am sorry you had a tough game” or simply "I am here for you".

Result: Super effective.  I am not saying there is no place to cheer-leading and coaching (there is) but one of the key factors of time.  In the heat of the moment or crisis or heartache, if you truly want to help, “say” little and just “BE” much.

In the spirit of full transparency, it has taken me a long time to even discover the importance of #3, let alone remember to use it.

I love fixing.
I love cheering up.
I love coaching.

But I also know there is value in pain, loss and hardship and if I swoop in with my super-mom-cape and make everything all better right away, well then I rob my kids (or my clients for that matter) of the resiliency that comes from actually going through some stuff.  The wisdom on the other side can be pretty rich mining.

I have learned to honour pain - mine and others - in the same way I honour joy.
Both are valuable teachers.

So if you are in a season of pain
in a season of joy, honour it.
Witness it.

Later you can decide how to get less (or more) of it. On the other side of feeling it.


This post published with Jack’s permission.  While it is about me and life lessons, it is also about him and in a world of social sharing, I think permission about this kind of thing is important when people are named.


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