“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” Muhammad Ali
I admit I am a huge boxing fan, also know as the “sweet science”. Of course I have mixed feelings about the brutality of the fight, but you will find it in baseball, football, basketball and of course hockey. When you are able to see past the physical and violent nature of the sport what you can see is amazing athletic ability.You see the sweet science of the sport. The term, sweet science, was coined by Pierce Egan who was a British journalist and sportswriter in the 1800’s. He wrote many articles on boxing and called it the “Sweet Science of Bruising”.
I personally had an interest in boxing but didn’t know very much about it. I was working out at the gym on day and saw a trainer working with someone on a heavy bag and doing a mitt workout. I thought I want to do that and this began a wonderful relationship with Robert Garrison teaching me the sweet science. I always had a lot of strength but as a kid I was always told not to use it. In my early workouts with Robert I would giggle, feel uncomfortable hitting the gloves and using the strength that I had. It was the day that my attitude switched. I realized that with Robert I could hit has hard as I wanted and I couldn’t hurt him, he would always be quicker and stronger than me.
When life feels impossible and we feel alone, reaching out for support is one of the hardest things to do. What I have learned from the world of sports is that it takes a team of support for people to be successful. Muhammad Ali had a support team, he trained with Angelo Dundee, had sparing partners and was in the gym working on and honing his craft. For me being a psychotherapist is helping to create or joining that team of support. It is in this partnership of psychotherapist and client that helps us learn about ourselves, the stumbling blocks we have come across and the views and beliefs we have about the world and ourselves. Knowing our feelings, wants and goals is what many of us have understood to be called self-esteem and we get this from experiences with other people and how they treat us, how they reflect their impressions of who they think we are and how we come to think of ourselves. I have personally and professionally found psychotherapy to be helpful in coming out of isolation and making changes. It is why I became a psychotherapist and I maintain a psychotherapy practice in Santa Cruz, CA.
Much of our self-understanding is built in childhood where we learned about ourselves from our parents, caretakers, school, society and often the messages we received about us were not positive or were more often about the other person and their struggles instead of reflections of who we are. Like the diagram below it shows how our view of the world impacts our perceptions, emotions, relationships and thoughts. I see my job as helping tease out what is my belief and experience from what has been told to me, it is not about blaming but accountability. I know reaching out to anyone, especially making that call to a therapist can be very frightening and it can also be the first step on a very rewarding journey. Taking risks is what brings us rewards in life.