[THE PITCH] Honestly, I have been struggling to come up with something fresh to write about this week. No, it’s not that football has suddenly stopped teaching me life lessons. Rather, I think that three months of treading water, kicking, screaming, and trying to… not just survive…but excel in this awesome, but incredibly challenging new environment has left me physically, emotionally, and, sadly, even mentally exhausted.
There was no prolific ‘Aha’ moment this week; but instead, it was a daily battle to stay focused, stay present, and stay positive. Over the years, I have met some incredible people who have given me a few psychological tools to deal with an array of challenges. And at times like these, I try to think back to their words to help me get through my grind. One such tool is called ‘The Reframe.’ The concept is simple. To reframe is to put a positive spin on a seemingly difficult situation. When done correctly the results are almost magical. Here are some examples of my reframes this week.
Reframe #1. It hasn’t stopped raining and it’s June… depressing? à No! I’ll appreciate the sunshine way more when I am back in Cali Cali. The rainy weather accounts for the beautiful green country… My skin is safe from dangerous UV rays… and on top of that, I’m learning to be a better player in unpredictable elements.!
Reframe #2. I had a bad game this weekend. I’m a horrible player and I’ll never play well again? à No! A taste of the bitter makes the good that much sweeter... Having played poorly last game, I’ll be more determined in our next game… This is a challenge, and challenges help us grow and make us stronger… Playing poorly teaches me what NOT to do.
Yes, these spins are the dialogues I have in my head. As effective as Expelliarmus? We will have to wait and see…
Since I never attended Hogwarts, for now, I’ll have to accept the science from my positive psychology textbook to explain how ‘The Reframe’ really works. I've learned that that the feeling of happiness causes us to smile innately. However, what I find more interesting, is that the act of smiling causes us to feel happiness (evidenced by a release of dopamine in the brain… i.e. the pleasure hormone.) This bidirectional causation in smiling and happiness is true too of positive thinking and success.
The moral of the story: pick up that wand and fake it ‘til you make it! I believe that repeating these seemingly stupid, forced, and trivial affirmations in your head 'cast a spell' on the mind to believe them to be true. And the more time you spend dwelling on the negative thought / fear, ‘I played horribly because I am a horrible player…’ the greater the chance that that will be your reality… So, for those of us who are our own biggest critics, try hard to drown the negativity with positive reframes. I’ve actually seen people skipping in the rain, slipping, getting up and skipping on. You’ve seen it too, and I bet you had to smile.
[Stoppage Time] After spending 10 days training with the US landslaget, returning to my club was like WHOAH: different timing, different role, and different focus. I thought transitioning would get easier each time…WRONG.
We traveled to Umeå over the weekend, and I truly enjoyed every minute spent with my team: the laughing, the banter, and the camaraderie. I am so lucky to be blessed with a group of people that make me feel comfortable in my own skin.
Unfortunately, my return to the pitch wasn’t as smooth. Fifteen minutes in, I realized I was playing poorly. I was frustrated easily. I couldn’t get out of my own head. Just when I thought I was making progress, I made all the same mistakes I had made at the beginning of the season. I was disjointed from the team, my timing was off, and I was playing totally alone up top.
It’s a good thing my team picked up the slack, finished their chances, and we captured the 3 points. BOOM.
Göteborg FC 3 – Umeå IK FF 0
[Off The Post!] One of my dearest friends is embarking on an existential soul-searching 4-month journey through South America, and I, like all of his friends, am oozing over with jealousy. He recently shared a story that I find quite refreshing and up lifting during a particularly stressful week of football here in Sweden…
“…I jumped in a canoe and embarked on a 3-hour boat ride through the Amazon. I made it to an indigenous village where I was invited to join the tribe members playing a game of pick-up. Picture this: jungle backdrop, animal soundtrack, and a simple game of fútbol. The world's most popular sport had made its way deep into the Amazon jungle!
The game was so fun and I was quickly immersed in the game. I received a pass deep on the sideline and dribbled up the field, beating 3 defenders before getting ready to cross the ball. As I looked across the field, I saw a wide-open player in the box, and suddenly I was Mesuit Ozil about to cross the ball to Ronaldo for a 100% golazoooo!
I went to cross the ball with visions of the great goal playing in my head. But I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a small furry object shoot onto the field and snag the ball from under my feet!
It was a monkey.
I couldn't believe it! The little guy had ran onto the field and stolen the ball right from me. He was now parading around the field with the ball as if to show off his skills and the spoils of his most recent tackle. It was one of the funniest moments of my life. The monkey’s antics brought me back to reality: I was far far from home…” - Nima Majd
Rookie For Life,