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3 tips for hitting life's curveballs out of the park

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I love baseball. I love the hum of the crowd, the quiet patter of the announcers, the history of the game, but most of all, I love to watch the strategy between the pitcher and the batter.

One of the most amazing things to see during this one-to-one challenge is the way a pitcher can make the batter’s knees buckle with a good curveball.

Do you ever feel like life has thrown you a curveball? You thought you had everything under control and then something happens to make your knees buckle. Maybe you lost your job or have a health problem. Perhaps you’re having relationship difficulty or your house is perilously close to foreclosure. Whatever the case, life’s curveballs can really leave you flailing, just like that batter against the wily pitcher.

Here are three lessons we can learn about resiliency via that tricky curveball:

1. Be flexible with your expectations.

So, what does an experienced hitter do to make contact with the curveball? First of all, he broadens his expectations. Most hitters who flail at a curveball do so because they have their expectations set on something else: they’re anticipating a fastball.

Like the veteran hitter, you can prepare for life’s curveballs by remembering that life is always about change. So learn to create flexibility in your expectations about how the world works for you.

2. Learn from experience.

But even the experienced batter will be fooled by a curveball now and again. Expecting the fastball, he might take a mighty swing at something that at first looks like a fastball, only to find that he swung way ahead of when the ball arrived and about 8 inches over the top of it as it drops down out of the strike zone. Does the batter decide he’s a failure because he whiffed and stomp back to the dugout? No. He takes a deep breath, learns from the experience, and steps back into the batter’s box.

If you take a whiff at one of life’s curveballs, step back for a moment and look at what you’ve learned from the experience. Then take a deep breath and get back into the batter’s box of life. The next time that curveball shows up, you’ll be ready to either hit it out of the park or let it go if it’s outside the strike zone.

3. Practice, practice, practice. (And realize how great a .400 batting average is!)

Finally, remember that patience and practice are what increases the hitter’s batting average. Just because you’ve missed the pitch or perhaps even struck out at one of life’s curveballs doesn’t mean you’re a failure by any means. Even the Splendid Splinter, the great Ted Williams, only succeeded 40% of the time when he was at the plate. Yet he went back to the batter’s box again and again because he loved the thrill of the game.

Takeaway points: Don’t miss out on the thrill of life because of a few unexpected curveballs. Broaden your expectations, learn from your experience, have patience and practice new skills. Soon, you’ll see those curveballs coming and, sometimes, hit them right out of the park!

How do you handle life’s curveballs?

Besides being a huge Seattle Mariners fan, Bobbi Emel is a therapist in Los Altos, Ca. Thinking about therapy? Call Bobbi at 650-529-9059 for a free 30-minute consultation or send her a message.


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Bobbi Emel is a therapist who helps people in Los Altos, Palo Alto, Mountain View and the greater Bay Area manage their stress and develop their strengths.
She is effective in helping people dealing with anxiety, worry and grief; and also those who want to improve their effectiveness and performance.