I’m not the first to say this. Matter of fact, I heard this from one of my mentors who is a successful therapist, but even before her, I can swear I might have heard it on Oprah or somewhere, but the fact remains it is a powerful statement that has helped me in many situations.
Often in life we get swamped with obligations that we’d rather not do. I don’t mean the things that we have to do like take care of our kids or pay the bills, but I mean things such as running an errand for a friend that would really inconvenience us, or dealing with someones emotional instability that we know will suck us of any energy we have, but we may feel obligated to listen, or help, or volunteer, or say “yes” when we really want to say “no”.
The thing is, these things asked of us by friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, or who ever, is like them throwing a ball to us and we often feel obligated to catch it, but we don’t have to. We can say no, we can politely turn down that invitation to a Christmas party we really don’t want to go to, quite simply, we can just let the ball pass or bounce on by us instead of feeling obligated to catch it.
I had to explain this to a client recently who gave a guy her number when she didn’t really want to, but didn’t know how to say no, and now when he calls she doesn’t really want to answer, but does so to not be rude. I had to tell her that just because he was throwing the ball to her, didn’t mean she had to catch it. The same goes for someone giving you a bad attitude, negative energy or whatever. Just because they throw that negative ball your way, you don’t have to catch it and throw it back, you can just let it pass on by you.
Many times we feel the need to, and sometimes out of habit (or reflex) catch balls we really shouldn’t and sometimes even throw them back. People will always throw balls at us and if we try to catch them all we’ll eventually end up dropping everything.
So I think it’s important from time to time to practice not catching the ball, which will allow us more time and energy for what we feel is most important to us.