Fight The Ball!

23 Nov

A few weeks ago, I was faced with the challenge of believing in myself even when I didn’t think I could anymore, when I was putting myself out there in what felt like every direction, and getting nothing back but rejection and radio silence.  I wanted to keep going, past the point where, historically, I would give up.  Past the point where, traditionally, I would curl up in a ball, on my bed or on the floor, whichever was closer at the time.  And cry.  And stop.  Trying.  Stop.  Doing.  What I hoped to do or longed to do or needed to do, because the rejection just hurt too much.

There’s nothing wrong with hanging out in a ball sometimes.  It can be very nurturing, and healing, and even exactly what I need, to take a time out, and allow myself to feel sad and disappointed and hurt and discouraged.  Just let it all out, and comfort myself and nurture myself and move through it.  But the problem is, I tend to get stuck in ball formation.  For a long, long time.  Like, one might say, at times, that I’ve spent years in various combinations and permutations of literal and metaphorical balls.  And while I’m there, I don’t believe in myself.  I believe the rejection.  And I stop trying, with whatever project or projects I was working on at the time, that I was so intensely passionate about and consumed by and determined to succeed with, pre-rejection.  I accept the apparent limitations of my life, painful as they may be, because that seems like the less painful alternative to pushing through the rejection.  Because doing that would require getting even more rejection.

And now for a word from my negative, critical, self-defeating internal voice:  I can’t do that.  I’m exhausted just thinking about it.  So don’t mind me, I’ll just be over here in the corner, curled up in my tight little ball.  Yeah, that’s cool, you can just step right over me.  Or step on me, whatever, I don’t care, nothing is ever going to work out anyway…

OK, now back to me.  As much as I appreciate her input, I’m pretty tired of listening to it.  Make that really tired.  So, a few weeks ago, when she started piping in with, “What’s the use?” this and “Why don’t you just give up?” that, and “Hey, doesn’t curling up in your favorite ball formation sound so good right now, I challenged myself to challenge that voice.  To reject the rejection that I was getting and keep going, anyway.  To believe in myself, past the point I had ever been able to believe in myself in the past.  To believe in myself when it didn’t feel like anyone else did (this wasn’t actually accurate as many people believe in me, but you know how that pesky, negative, critical, self-defeating internal voice just LOVES to distort the truth).  I made the choice to stay upright and moving forward, and to believe in myself even when I didn’t think I could.

And it was kind of touch and go there for a little while.  I was on uncharted ground and my legs were shaky.  They so wanted to give out and curl up.  But then, as I was wavering, my best friend started sending me emails and texts that said, “Fight the ball!”  And I started to catch that fighting spirit.  I started to feel feistier.  And then, when the rejections came in, instead of wanting to curl up into that ball I know and love and then on top of that, kicking myself when I was down, I found myself, in this other, feistier internal voice, defending myself against the rejections.  And I felt my belief in myself grow stronger and stronger, and not despite the rejections, but because of them.

And no, this was not the most fun way to strengthen my belief in myself.  I’d much prefer to grow my belief in myself while I receive glorious acceptance after acceptance.  But, that’s not how it happened for me, and I gotta work with what I’ve got/am getting in any given moment.

And then, some good things of the non-rejection variety happened!  (Imagine, that voice that said that that would never happen, LIED!)  While I want to enjoy them, I don’t want my self-esteem to get caught up in and tied to them either, because that, while temporarily better feeling, is just as much of a trap as tying your self-esteem to rejection.

So for now, I’ve made it past my historical wall and through my traditional limits.  I know that as I keep moving forward, I will encounter more walls, more limits, more seductive siren calls luring me to drop it all and curl up in a ball.  But now that I’ve proven to myself that I can do it, when the time comes, I will be well-armed with my feisty don’t mess with me internal belief in myself, and ready to fight the ball with all I’ve got.

What do you do when you want to curl up in a ball, call it a day/week/year, and give up?  How do you keep going, or get yourself out of the ball and back in the game?  What works for you, and what doesn’t?  When is curling up in a ball actually helpful, and when is it not?

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4 Responses to “Fight The Ball!”

  1. @fearofwriting December 5, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    Jen, thanks again for your awesome words of encouragement. I just read your latest Tweet to me. And had just typed on Twitter “How are you doing with the challenge?” but I deleted it and decided to check your blog for a possible answer to my question. Was delighted to find your update!

    I’m thrilled to hear you resisted the urge to curl up in the ball. And that your friend helped you get through it with her messages. And that some good stuff starting happening. And that you have the wisdom not to get too enamored with that part either because self-esteem should not be based on what’s happening. (I want to remember you said that! That is so profound!)

    I want to recommend a book I’ve been reading. Your post makes me think you might like it. It’s called The 50th Law by Robert Greene and the rapper 50 Cent. Now, this would not be my usual cup of tea—and there were parts of the book I didn’t feel comfortable with—but I want to toughen my mind against being hurt so easily, taking everything so personally, letting guilt ravage my internal environment and not believing in myself enough to speak up, stride out, share my gifts with the world. So I plowed through and read even the parts that challenged me. And I learned so much!

    I’m nearing the end of the book now, and I can feel how much stronger I am than when I first started reading it. I’m reading the section on self-belief and feeling EXCITED. Feeling like I can keep taking steps in that direction. And that having more confidence feels good.

    Let me know if you get the book and what you think of it. :~)

    Cheering you on in your Fight the Ball campaign! Your blog is a beacon for me to do the same.

    ~ Milli

  2. Sheri D. December 13, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    Ahhh.. the infamous ball! So much confort in it. I used find myself in this predicament numerous times over 4 years of an emotionally abusive relationship with my ex. It really sucked. The only two things that got me out of it were (a) yoga and (b) training for a 26.2 mile marathon. These two things saved my life, literally! I guess just keeping physically active helps my mental state and motivates me to be a better person. I do go back to the ball from time to time, but only when absolutely necessary. Even if it means to skip out on work. But again… after getting out of that old relationship, this is rare!

  3. Jennifer Garam December 14, 2010 at 6:28 pm #

    @fearofwriting – Thanks Milli! And thanks for the book recommendation! I’m so so so happy that my blog is a fighting the ball beacon for you, and thank you for the inspiration to turn Fight the Ball into a campaign 🙂

    @Sheri D. – I’m learning that that ball is so infamous and that many people are quite familiar with it. I do think that it can be healing to sometimes embrace the ball, but the trick is to rest there temporarily and let it help restore you so you can move through whatever you are going through, as opposed to getting indefinitely stuck there in ball formation. Thanks for sharing your inspiring experiences, and it’s so wonderful that you’ve overcome such a difficult situation, and ran a marathon! I find that physical activity, in particular yoga, really helps my mood and emotions, too. I write about how yoga helps with my depression and anxiety on my yoga blog NotSoZen YogaJen http://notsozenyogajen.wordpress.com/.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again « One Writeous Chick - February 21, 2011

    […] few months ago, I wrote a post about fighting the ball, you know, the one that you want to curl up in when it feels like life is just not going your way, […]

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