This year one of my friends invited me to join the neighborhood softball team. I was hesitant because I’m bad at softball. I actually said no at first, and then changed my mind and said yes.
It has been a rough start to the season for me. The first game, I actually got a hit, which I was proud of, but then I pulled a muscle in my leg running around the bases. The second game, I struck out three times in a row.
After I struck out for the third time (which ended the game by the way), I walked back to the dugout and started to feel a lump in the back of my throat, like I was getting ready to cry. The reaction felt excessive. I mean, I’m almost 40 years old. This is the neighborhood softball team, and no one cares if you are bad. Most of the guys are more interested in the beer after the game than the actual game itself.
Understanding the Reaction
But here I was, having a big reaction. I tried to be curious about it. One thing I have noticed over the years is that if you have a reaction that feels excessive, it usually means something is getting triggered inside you. In other words, something is happening in the moment that is reminding you of something else from your past. Often that “something else” is something old and painful from your childhood. If you can tap into that, there might be some healing there for you.
When I was curious and started to think about it, a whole rush of feelings and memories came back to me. Never feeling like I was any good at sports. Getting cut from team after team. Being overweight and hating my body growing up. Struggling to get a girlfriend. Feeling shame about anything having to do with my sexuality. Not feeling like I was competent or good at much of anything growing up. It was a lot.
As much as it sucked to strike out three times at the softball game and feel like I was going to cry, the experience was actually a gift for me, because it let me know that there is some unresolved pain from my past that hasn’t experienced healing yet. Sure, I have experienced some healing from that part of my life through my own personal work and counseling, but there’s still more to go.
The next time you find yourself having a big reaction, try to pause and be curious about it. Does the reaction remind you of anything painful from your past? If so, it might be a clue that more healing and work needs to be done in that area of your life.