01 Jan How to overturn the game of life in your favor.
My team is getting pummeled because I seem to be the only one playing.
It’s game day and cars consume the streets. RV’s and trucks are positioned and prepared to tailgate their team to victory. The stadium is packed with 70,000 die-hard fans. Each and every individual dons their team’s colors just as a country waves their flag with pride. Their loyalty and dedication to a greater cause builds excitement and anticipation. A bold warrior wades through the sea of privates and officers and trudges through the hallways prepping for battle. With a beer in one hand, a hot dog in the other, and a cheese head crowned atop his head, he plows through the crowd, headed to his battle post located in general seating 119 at A22. Lambeau Field resonates as the generals of this mighty Packer army suit up and bump chests. Armed with shear brute strength and a play book filled with elaborate, well practiced strategies, the fearsome warriors march with a hunger for blood, like beasts to the field, prepared to consume their dinner, without the courtesy of using utensils.
A thunderous roar erupts in the stadium as these masters of war take the field. An ocean of green and yellow surges up and down, wave after wave. The kick off begins, and though there is no room for the privates and officers to join the generals on the field, their hearts are with them as they run without reserve to the other end of the field. At the end of the third quarter the scoreboard reads Home Team 85, Away Player -3.
A single solitary child stands bloodied and bruised, hidden under an oversized helmet and wearing an oversized, orange, grass stained, jersey to match. His arms wrap themselves around a pigskin, which hides the number 0 on his jersey. As the team heads to their commander on the side lines to debrief and prepare for the fourth quarter, this little boy stares at the crowd in the bleachers. Not even a slight peppering of orange to be seen, no, not one drop of orange in the bucket.
Where a commander should stand amidst a ravenous pack of generals is nothing more than an empty bench and an unfilled Gatorade cooler. Swimming in his battle garments, the little boy hangs his head. Trembling in fear and pain he makes his way to the lonesome bench. Drenched in hopelessness and defeat he awaits the sounding trumpet signaling the last quarter of play. It is here, on this bench, where I spent the entirety of my early life. For over two decades I believed that I was in a game against life, with no fans, no team mates, and no hope of winning.
I’ve spent the last decade of life on a self-empowerment journey and this is what I’ve discovered. Self-empowerment is really about self-value. If I don’t see myself as valuable, no one will see me or treat me as valuable. It has been my inability to fully embrace and unconditionally love myself that has dictated whether or not I have had fans and teammates. Feeling unloved ultimately means that I don’t like me and therefore I don’t allow anyone to be on my team. I have found myself hopelessly pushing through life. There has been this gigantic opposing force named Justin fighting me all the way. Ultimately my dreams and desires seemingly haven’t been cheered on by anyone. I didn’t believe there were any fans, even if there were. I have learned that my fan base begins with me. It begins with me becoming my own greatest fan.
One thing that I stress to my clients is that the safest, kindest, most caring, patient, and understanding person in their lives, should be the one in the mirror. The person in the mirror should be our biggest cheerleader.
The truth is, that life is not against us. Life is for us. Time and again, life brings us opportunities and good gifts. Unfortunately, for many people, the person in the mirror is their greatest adversary. The person in the mirror slaps away compliments. The person in the mirror lies to us and tells us that no one likes or cares about us. The person in the mirror comes with a voice of accusation, accusing us of everything we are not, rather than affirming all that we are.
We set the standard in all of our relationships. People are like puppies, they grow up to behave how we train them. If we refuse to accept compliments, then people quit giving them. If we accept degrading, demeaning responses from others towards us, they will give them. If we refuse to stand up and speak, they will assume we have no voice, that we are a mute, and that they should never be prepared to listen, because we have nothing to say.
For so very, very long, I positioned myself to believe that nothing would ever workout for me. And why would it? I believed I had nothing to say, nothing to offer, and ultimately my life didn’t matter. Who would want to be on a team or cheer on a team that had no game plan, except to roll over and die?
Driving unconditional self-love into the deepest parts of my heart and choosing to accept that I am great and valuable has created a momentous force in my life. I no longer choose one-sided friendships with people who don’t have the ability to see me for who I am. I call out the greatness in myself and position myself around people who see themselves as great. This in turn creates situations where my friends and I feel supported and championed. It’s kind of like an ass-kissing club where love and sincerity are the driving source. We truly believe the best about each other.
I see many people who don’t love themselves and have no self-belief. They saturate their world with negativity, hopelessness, and death. They befriend Pessimistic Petes. They build on all that they aren’t, can’t be, and won’t be. They jockey for position and stand in competition with one another. These types of relationships reinforce that life is a dominating football team filled with steroid freaks out for blood.
As I have journeyed the road of self-love and acceptance I have found that this road is filled with fans, cheerleaders, and teammates who have unknowingly been waiting for my arrival. As I have decided that I have a voice, a destiny, and a purpose in the now so has everyone else. The truth is, I have an offensive and defensive line that towers above any others. I’m not just a little kid. I’m a powerful man filled with strength and tenacity. There is a force on my side and it is driving back my adversary. There is a stadium filled with fans whose voice drowns out the lies that so easily trapped me in the past. Funny thing is, all I needed in order to shift the game was one key ingredient, my first and strongest teammate…me.