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Renewal Resources is a nonprofit, public benefit organization serving our community through therapy, classes, groups, support teams and retreats. We offer care and compassion, strategies and support to nurture your inner resources with hope, meaning and healing.
Life lived well can be a little like being on a good basketball team. Wouldn’t it be good to know that we aren’t alone, but we are part of something bigger, with purpose and built in support? I’d like to think that there are some people in my life who would be willing to charge into the fray, fearless for me when I’m afraid, furious for me when necessary. It would be great if at least one person in my life somehow towered above the others and could be counted on to catch the rebounds if I don’t make the shot. Sometimes in life, we make that 3 point shot and people start to believe in our potential. Other times we get the fast break, and then trip over our own feet and are crushed. The pressure to “succeed” gets so great we develop depression, anxiety or are tempted to cheat.
We have to be intentional in building the network of our lives much as a coach is intentional in recruiting players with a variety of skills. We need to build the team of our lives with depth. A good team doesn’t just rely on a few stars, but has strength on the bench, ready to provide respite for the first string or move into play in case of injury. And building a team means contributing to the life and strength of others, not just looking for what they can do for us. Psychologist Alfred Adler believed that personal mental health improves as we increase our social interest. The more we cooperate, encourage others and make decisions in light of the greater good, the healthier we will be. A team that builds each other up, will get better as a whole. A second string player may be able to coach the first string player in chemistry between classes and the game. Life: we’re in it together.
I usually recommend having at least 5 unrelated sources of support–(our own team)-and being an active part of the team for those people. That can be a Herculean task in our increasingly isolated existences amidst the anonymity of urban/suburban living…when just surviving at work or school requires vast hours of time. Still, it can be done. One or two people could be ones with whom we have a lot in common, who are accessible and know how to listen, ideally without giving advice. At least one should be someone from a very different background, with different skills, who can provide a different (perhaps even opposing) perspective from our own to keep us open and balanced, to challenge us. Some might be relatives; some might become the family we choose. It’s very helpful if we have multiple people in whom we can confide in case one is not available; everyone is chronically busy these days. It’s also helpful to have a group in which we participate without telling all our troubles, a place we can go just to serve or have fun. A group provides a buffer against isolation and bullying. A choir, sports team, religious or service group, hiking/cycling club or the like can fill that role.
Finally, being part of a team means being willing to do your own individual work so that when you come to the team, you’re ready. If you’re playing basketball, it means getting in shape, eating right, and practicing shots on your own time as well as with the team. In life it means self-care through diet and exercise, plus meditation, mindfulness, journaling or sometimes counseling. In confidential counseling we can work through the issues that are too embarrassing to tell friends or too heavy because we don’t want to wear out our welcome. We might expect to go for counseling to deal with grief, loss, communication problems or trauma recovery. But just as some private tutoring/coaching helps us become a better team player, counseling can also contribute to our personal growth and ability to enjoy the game of life. Who are we?
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