A hockey coach is mostly evaluated by wins and losses. Getting fired is never pleasant. However, when you enter the realm of pro sports, the likelihood you will experience it one day is highly probable.
“I always feared being told I was not wanted anymore.” It meant I was not smart or competent enough; even more, it meant I was not worthy enough.
Before training camp started for our 2018-2019 season, ownership announced publicly that winning the championship was the goal. This would guarantee the club’s main objective of being promoted to the Swiss league. With the playoffs several weeks away, our performances were sub-par, losing 2 out of 3 followed by a nightmarish 8-0 loss at the hands of neighboring rivals who were 1st in the standings. Our record at the time was 19 wins and 11 losses, 3rd in the standings; that loss seemed to erase all previous accomplishments. This game had added pressure considering both teams submitted their request of moving up to the Swiss league. If both teams met all the requirements, the winner of the playoffs would be promoted. This game was also an opportunity to build a fan base; in addition, a win would guarantee us 2nd or 3rd place finish. Instead, that loss cost me my position as head coach!
Learning from the experience
When something we interpret as bad happens in our lives, we are quick to make conclusions that are mostly rooted from our unconscious. Our early conditioning activates our primitive brain, which makes us go into fight, flight, or freeze responses. This hijacks our ability to truly learn from our experiences.
I believe this experience is a tipping point in my life. What I feared had come to fruition more than once I must admit. I could continue living my life the way I always have, from my ego’s (lower-self) distorted perspective whose sole purpose is to protect the image I
have created of myself, which until now has given me more or less the same results. Or I could transcend and become radically open- minded (higher-self) choosing a path where I am honest about my strengths and weaknesses. This radical change would force me to be truly transparent about who I am. Opening yourself to see the truth can seem scary to your ego, that is accustomed to maintaining a false image of oneself.
This piece I am writing is about liberating myself from my dependence on the opinions and judgements of others. As well, I am allowing myself to feel and process all my emotions; however uncomfortable they may be. I have come to understand through much trial and error how essential this is to living a fulfilling life.
In painful situations, we make up false stories that are rooted from a wounded part of ourselves. Our ego’s main concern is self- preservation: the ego is good at creating stories that prevent us from evolving.
Staying radically open in order to discover patterns and blind spots that prevent you from living your best life
To truly grow one must accept all experiences, understanding that experiences are there to teach us. Giving yourself permission to feel and process emotions without fleeing them is hard in the beginning.
In the past, whenever I was confronted with uncomfortable emotions, I would distract myself from the truth by indulging in negative thoughts, habits, and behaviors. Thoughts, habits and behaviors maintain that negative pattern in place.
Our painful memories keep us fearful
I remember how ecstatic I was when I realized I was going to be a father. Most parents, in those early years display a higher version of love towards their children. Once the newness of the experience wares off, habitual patterns returns. Our parents pass on to us their
fears as well as the belief system they picked up from their conditioning; we do the same, unless we empower ourselves to live from a place of love versus a place of fear.
Growing up I couldn’t understand why my parents were frequently stressed and unhappy. Children interpret they must be the reason for the way their parents feel. This unconscious interpretation has a significant impact in the way we live our lives later on.
Conditioning begins in our families, continues in our schools and our society. An unhealthy ego emerges because our primary needs were not met. Personas are created trying to find our place in the world, hoping to receive love and validation. Some personas look to please, others seek constant recognition, while some disconnect themselves from the world. We suppress our needs and true desires by creating these personas: the shadow-self is created. This process divides us from who we truly are. It robs us from living an authentic life.
The impact of repressed emotions
Psychiatrist Carl Jung described “the shadow self” as the site of all repressed desires, emotions and impulses hidden from our conscious awareness. Shadow work is about bringing these unconscious desires to the forefront so we can better understand them. The goal is to heal them while integrating them in a healthy way, to bring productive change in our lives.
According to some experts, our subconscious and unconscious (shadow- self) drives a good portion of our behavior. They contain some of the deep-seated thoughts and beliefs that we harbor beneath our conscious awareness, usually rooted in and stemming from childhood. These hidden aspects of our personality have been hugely implicated in self-sabotaging behaviors.
Root cause analysis (cause and effect)
From a young age, I dreamed of playing hockey in the NHL. I spent most days playing hockey, whether on the ice, or on the street pavement with friends. That passion led me to the biggest stage, the NHL. Once I got there, I couldn’t fully receive the fruits of the time and energy I invested cultivating my passion. I had moments where I expressed myself beautifully on the ice. Most of the time though, I played with a great deal of anxiety (shadow-self). I now understand my intention to succeed was driven by a deficient image of myself. This acted as a roadblock in my evolution.
Freedom is innate
Undoing our negative patterns takes awareness and patience. This process is so rewarding leading you back to the innocence you once experienced as a child. A sense of freedom and lightheartedness fills your inner being; playfulness and joy replace the need to be perfect. You move away from overthinking life, your heart begins to sing, guiding your intentions, decisions, and actions! That is why children learn so effortlessly. Evolution and progress are innate!
Playing small starts in your head, it robs you of living a life that is fulfilling. Most of us are conditioned to live from a survival paradigm. Following inspiration is considered unrealistic; instead, we are taught to follow rules and fit in.
Does a life following rules inspire you to get up in the morning? So why do so many accept this paradigm? What about following a path that makes you feel alive?
One door closes, another opens
“You can never connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was fired from the company he started. He didn’t see it then: “but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me”. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed him to enter one of the most creative periods of his life.
In those moment, we cannot see the lessons we must learn; we must have faith!
His Stanford commencement speech below is one for the ages, he shares 3 stories that changed the trajectory of his life.
True authentic power happens when your intentions originate from a place of transparency (love + truth) versus a place of fear where the ego is trying to preserve itself.
Here is what is helping me create authentic power:
- Have a spiritual practice. Be clear about your intentions; choose love over fear. Bring awareness to your thoughts; they reveal what beliefs hold you back. Make inner work a daily practice.
- Support others and ask for support when you need it! Remember to connect with others from a place of equality. Be truthful and loving, your relationships will reflect that! Meaningful relationships make our lives richer and more abundant. Without them, life just isn’t the same!
- On the flip side, learn to say no if you are someone whose intention is to always please others. Taking full responsibility for your life requires you to say NO at times. Self-care leads to self-love; you can only demonstrate healthy love if you feel whole.
- Spend time laughing and being playful; stay connected to the child in you. These happy states enhance productivity and creativity.
- Meditate! Meditation will activate your prefrontal cortex and calm the amygdala, which tends to be overactive when you are stressed and fearful. Respond consciously instead of reacting emotionally!
- Patience! Living authentically is a process. Learn to embrace and integrate all parts of yourselves. Accept fully where you are at and be radically open-minded. Reflect deeply so you can learn from your failures, setbacks and challenges. Identifying the root cause of problems is how you continuously progress.
Failure is part of the process that leads to success. We must embrace and stay open to learn the lessons that are really there to serve us. What appears to be a negative experience might very well be the thing that sets off your authentic power.
Consciously sharing, Adrien