Words of Wellness

March 22, 2009 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner

Moving Well Without the Ball

I spent a great deal of time watching college basketball this weekend and so for this week's "Words of Wellness" I want to reflect on some of the lessons I learned from the NCAA Tournament as they apply to emotional, spiritual and relational wellness.

††† One of the most important observations I made is that assists are as important as scoring points.† For those who are not basketball fans, an assist is when a player makes a pass to another player that then leads to the second player scoring.† The person making the assist often gives up a chance they might have to score in order to assist the other player in scoring.† Because scoring is what gets most of the attention, assist makers are admired for being selfless, team players.

††† When it comes to our relationships and our families, the same is true--assists are as important as scoring points, perhaps even more important.† Our egos are often tempted to "score points" in arguments with loved ones so that we might "win" the argument.† The "win" is often short-lived though as we are usually sowing the seeds for the next argument.† Seeking to make assists with those we are closest to will actually serve us much better in the long run.† A selfless family/team player is most interested in making others look and feel their best.† No one likes a ball hog, either on the court or, at home or† at work.

††† A second lesson I learned is that that the good teams seem to know just the right time to call a time out.† There are so many emotional swings in a college basketball game and sensing when your team is struggling and needs some time to regroup is essential.†† The same is true in all of our relationships, whether at home, work, or other communities we are involved in.† Emotional swings are a part of every relationship and organization.† Knowing when to call or take a time out to regroup is essential to healthy functioning. †

††† I teach people to call a time out on themselves when they are getting heated in a conversation.† "I need to take a time out because I feel like I'm about to say something I'm going to regret," is much more helpful than, "I'm calling a time out because you are out of control!"†† Agreeing to postpone a discussion until everyone is less emotionally flooded will always be a good call to make.† Time outs in a relationship, as in basketball, also give us a time to reassess the situation and make a better plan about how to respond.† It might even give us a chance to commit to move from trying to score points to making assists. †

†††† Half time in basketball is an extended time out.† These extended time outs are also essential for healthy couples, families and organizations.† Retreats, enrichment programs, and vacations are all necessary times for us to recreate ourselves and get clarity on the "bigger picture."† These extended time outs are necessary for rest, renewal and perspective.† "Half times" are a chance for all of us to evaluate ourselves, and the choices we are making, and to make adjustments as necessary.

††† Finally, one of the humble lessons I have learned again this year is that I cannot predict the future and that just because I expect something to happen does not mean that it will.†† Every year I fill out my bracket predictions on who is going to win which games and every year I am amazed at how wrong I am.† People love to have me in their NCAA pools.† †

††† Relationships are like that, too.† We often are filled with expectations and predictions of how a friend, a spouse, a child or a parent will, or should act, only to realize that we have little control over the outcomes and choices that others choose.† Learning to love and cherish our loved ones even when they don't behave the way we expect is an essential key to wellness.

†††† So enjoy the rest of the tournament.† And if anyone wonders if you are spending too much time watching basketball, perhaps you can explain to them that you are really just working on lessons for your emotional, spiritual and relational wellness.

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