In life there are many things that are in your control and there are many things that are not. One of the things that is never in your control is how other people act; what is always in your control, however, is how you respond to those actions.
The predicted probability of success in my baseball career was surrounded by external doubt. I was fortunate enough to have an extremely strong support system in my family and close friends, but outside of that, I was often met with discouragement.
As I prepared for college, I was told by a few of my coaches that if I wanted to play college ball, my only option would be some small school out of state.
I was less concerned with what level I played at (Division I, II, III, NAIA, or JUCO) and more focused on finding a place to play in Florida. I wanted to stay in Florida because it is a baseball hotbed; no matter what level you play at here the competition is strong. I knew that I belonged in Florida.
I wanted to stay in the state and that is exactly what I did. But throughout that process, I became resentful of those coaches who said I couldn’t play at any level in this state.
I signed to play baseball at Lynn University, a Division II school in Boca Raton, FL. I had proved the coaches in high school wrong. But the resentment toward them that I carried ultimately translated into me playing from a place of fear and not fun. I was so nervous to fail at the level I was at. I struggled to let myself just play baseball.
Because I was fear-driven, my play often suffered, further compounding my frustration, and breeding new opportunity for external characters to voice their opinions.
As a freshman at Lynn I didn’t play a lot. That wasn’t out of the ordinary as the team was comprised of majority junior college transfers. Most of my teammates had already played two years of college baseball before transferring to Lynn. There was a total of four freshmen in my class on the team. One transferred after the fall, one became the team manager (that guy is the GOAT) and one transferred after the spring season. By the time I was a senior I was the only active true-four-year player on the team.
My sophomore year was similar to my freshman year, but with a few more opportunities to play. That year, I took advantage of any chance I got and played pretty well.
The summer going into my junior year, I trained incredibly hard in order to come back to school a better ballplayer than ever before. That is exactly what I did. I was finally in the position to earn a starting role. At the time, I was playing third base and playing it well. I was taking all of the starting reps; all of the signs pointed to me being the starting third basemen that year.
When opening day rolled around the spring of my junior year, my name was nowhere to be found in the lineup. While a bit annoying I wasn’t panicking. We play 50+ games, so I knew there was a lot of season ahead.
As the year progresses, we get deeper and deeper into our season and “my time” still hasn’t come. I begin to get incredibly frustrated. I was doing everything I felt I should be doing, and everything that was asked of me and I was not getting what I was told I was going to get.
I began to fill up with resentment. Just as my resentment toward those high school coaches hindered my play, my resentment toward my college coaches did the same. I fell into a vicious negative self-fulfilling prophecy cycle.
I am not an angry or resentful person by nature, but that season, that is exactly what I was. By year’s end, I was mentally drained.
Through talking with one of my teammates and good friends Rigo Beltran, I began to realize that my anger, frustration, and resentment was only hurting me, it had no impact on who I was mad at.
Think of a time when someone, doesn’t matter who, said something that upset you. Does getting yourself worked up and angry teach them not to do it again? Rarely. Are those emotions detrimental to your well-being? Always.
Knowing that leading with anger does no good, the question becomes “what should we do instead?”.
Rigo introduced me to a mantra that I have since used to transform the way I deal with upsetting interactions. The mantra goes like this:
“I know this is something that they, for whatever reason, have to do. It is not my role or responsibility to figure out why. I do not judge them, in fact, I forgive them.”
I have found those words to be so powerful, here’s why.
It is important to acknowledge that people are most often coming from what they believe to be the right place. You may not agree with it and it also may be inherently wrong, but in their mind, they are doing the right thing. You must acknowledge that their actions are something they feel they have to do.
The mantra then reinforces your role. You should not burden yourself with the responsibility to figure out why someone is acting the way that they are. Look inward for a second, has there ever been a time in which you were acting a certain way and weren’t necessarily conscious of why you were behaving that way, good or bad? You can rack your brain, but sometimes there is no good answer. Understanding how complicated it is to answer for yourself, imagine the complexity of trying to answer for someone else. That is not your role or responsibility.
It then ends with, what I believe to be, the most powerful section, “I do not judge them, in fact, I forgive them.” The moment you begin to practice forgiveness is the moment you begin to declutter your mind from debilitating, negative thoughts. It is in forgiveness that you allow yourself to grow.
This was the mantra I lived by my entire senior year, and it is a philosophy that I still live by today.
When I internally forgave the coaches in high school as well as my coaches in college, I freed myself from the harbored resentment that was weighing me down for so long. The reality is, none of my coaches ever wronged me. Did what they say or do upset me at times? Absolutely, but answering their actions with anger only hurt me.
Forgiveness has given me peace and has allowed me to better deal with upsetting circumstances. Forgiveness allows you to be in control, and when you are in control you can effectively be the very best version of you; and that, is all you can ever ask of yourself.