The other night, a usually composed but, at that moment, irate hockey coach called me at home. He claimed that he needed to get off his chest all the things about his team that where causing his head to spin. We’re talking about poor body language, trouble with punctuality, disrespect for his staff, low effort level, and dumb mistakes. On and on, he kept finding more and more problems with his players as his confusion got worse and worse.
I listened for about five minutes and then gently interrupted him, posing this basic question: “Coach, what’s the only thing that can cause the feeling of confusion within a human being?”
He shot back, “I don’t give a shit about feelings. These guys are really talented, but I’ll sit them all if they don’t get their act together.”
I suggested, “Why don’t we talk tomorrow.”
But then, fortunately, things began to shift. “Wait, G, sorry about that. Let me try to answer your question. Hmm, the only thing that can cause a feeling in me is . . . me. Am I on the right track?”
“Well, sort of, but not exactly. Consider it like this: Deep down, we all know that nothing or no one, including ourselves, can make us feel a certain way. However, it almost always looks like our feelings are either the result of the actions of others or our own actions and decisions. And this fundamental conflict between truth (we work from in to out) and illusion (we work from out to in) is enough to drive anyone mad.”
“So, my players aren’t the cause of my confusion, but it’s not my fault either?”
“Exactly, cool insight. Both you and your players are on the outside. And, again, feelings are an inside job. They’re simply spiritual energy that comes and goes.
“Wow. So confusion is a normal part of being human?”
“Amen. We’re born in peace. We look outside for the cause of this wonderful feeling—we find confusion. We feel confusion. We look outside for the cause of this wayward feeling—we find more confusion. We wake up to the truth that feelings come and go independent of what happens on the outside, or we turn back inside like you just did—and confusion disappears. And then the cycle, or the wonderful totality of the human experience, churns up all over again.”
“Glad we spoke, G. It’s cool to understand that my unpredictable feelings are actually normal and no one’s fault. Can’t wait to get to work with my team tomorrow!”
“Love it, coach. The understanding you just mentioned is the most important thing we can share with others. Point your players in that direction and let your season play out from there.”
“You got it. Call you after practice.”
One cause of confusion (misunderstanding). One cure (understanding). Always.
Thank you for reading,