Playing Your Own Game

When I was little, I started out by fighting dirty.

In our household (I was the youngest of four in the 1960s) the siblings fought a lot. I’ve since wondered about that culture, where punching, pushing, and brawling was the order of the day, but it definitely prepared me to stand my ground.

And, over time, I learned that there were standards:

No biting. No pinching. No spitting. No hitting those places that were extra sensitive–face-slapping, groin kicking, those were off limits.

The kids in the neighborhood played a lot of games. Baseball, football, kick-the-can, all had rules. Playing meant following the rules; if someone didn’t, everything stopped so we could reset and resume what we came to do–play our hearts out.

Stepping into the world of athletics meant further refining my sensibilities. I could get frustrated with myself or someone else, but that had to be short-lived.

Nothing demeaning was permitted to be expressed out loud, and even silent expressions of disapproval had to be short-lived.

Once we got to play other schools, our eyes were opened to standards that were sometimes different from our own, so we had to learn the line between being honorable and “playing dirty.” Going over that line was to our peril with our coaches, who would caution us to play our own game.

Here’s my softball team my senior year of high school. That’s me with long hair, second row down on the very right.

In this world of ever-changing standards of political play, I’ve noticed that sometimes I forget to play my own game.

I get caught into wanting to play dirty, to call my opponents names, to rail against their character or accuse them of dirty pool. But that’s just me losing my center, allowing my own reactivity to spin me into a very unpleasant orbit.

Perhaps you can relate, that in the midst of the variety of pressures we’re in, you’ve lost sight of your own game?

Here’s my game, the one that reflects who I most want to be:

  • I play with integrity: speaking the truth, feeling my feelings, taking 100% responsibility and keeping my agreements.
  • I honor myself and everyone on the field by believing that we’re all doing the best we can.
  • I remember that at after the game ends, we’re all just folks, and that we can back come together in our common humanity.
  • I see–and treat–everyone as worthy of respect.
  • I support my teammates to be the best they can be, without downgrading our opponents, either on, or off the field.
  • I understand that the game includes both winning and losing. I celebrate the winner, and learn from my losses.
  • And I realize, in the end, that we’re all actually on the same side.

How about you? What are your standards for playing your own game?



On Sunday, October 4, I’ll be doing a 2 hour training of anyone who wants to commit to being Above the Line during this year’s U.S. election. This will be followed by weekly check-in calls up until and then after the election (total 5 calls plus the training). If you participate, you’ll get a copy of my new book, The Inner Map: Navigating Your Emotions to Create the World You Want at cost ($10) plus a sticker that says “Be an activist: Choose Love.” (There is no cost beyond the cost of the book.) If you’d like to start your own pod, which I strongly suggest, you’ll also get a short manual about how to run support groups with them.

My team? Team Human, 2020. You are my species, and I have your back.

For information, email me at .

(BTW, I’ve ordered some white hats with the wonderful Team Human logo that our Mary Tebbs designed embroidered on the front. I’m not sure how much they are, but if you want one, let me know and I’ll figure it out.)

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