Last night at our softball game (go Diamond Divas!) the pitcher got hurt. I didn’t see what happened (I was the third base coach in the middle of stopping the runner coming into the bag), but I saw her leaning way over, her face twisted in pain. The game stopped while her team gathered around her, sorting through how she was doing, retrieving ice, letting her lean on them as she limped off the field.
When a human get triggered into reactivity, it’s the equivalent of temporarily losing a teammate.
Our cognitive functioning plummets as our physiology automatically changes to allow single-point attention on processing what the threat is, then doing what we’re designed to do to handle the threat: fighting, running away, or completely shutting down. It takes time to shake all that reactivity off, that is, to move the stress chemicals of reactivity through our bodies so we can function normally again.
However, as I’ve said before, the problem for humans is that we’re threatened animals who can speak. Rather than moving through the minutes of mobilization or immobilization like other mammals, our verbal expression create much bigger problems. We attack with meanness and contempt; we threaten to leave the relationship as we desperately seek a way out; we collapse into submission through words of placation, which often turn into inner dialogues of self-aggression.
Can you imagine what sports would look like if we behaved there like we do at work or in an argument at home?
It would be mayhem. Aggressive players would run down those they could dominate, blaming and screaming at them. Injured players would litter the field, bleeding while others continued to run over them. For sure, the game would be more like a gladiator death match, ending only when one person emerged still alive.
All relationships are actually team sports. When each teammate’s well-being is tracked and supported, the whole team is stronger, as each position is occupied by someone healthy and at the ready for the next challenge. The team thrives through a sense of connection and shared purpose, as everyone’s strength generates a team much stronger than its individual parts.
Here’s your challenge. Keep an eye out for your teammate, be they your spouse, your parent or child, your coworker, or the guy standing next to you in line. Know that we’re all doing the best we can, and each of us goes in and out of Reactive Brain on any given day. When you see one of them go down, stop the game. There’s nothing more important than putting full attention on each player’s physiology until they’ve made the full shift back into Creative Brain and natural well-being.
And if you’re the player down? Signal to the people around you.
Maybe they’ll get you some ice, squirt some Gatorade in your mouth, say some encouraging words, and give you a hand back up. Then you’ll be able to run around again, playing the game of life with the rest of us, knowing that we’re all on the same team.
I’ll be teaching the (Core) Essentials retreat weekend October 4-6. Here’s more information. Also, check out the new Body-Centered Transformation Coaching class (BC3 BCTC Training (final)docx) that begins in September!