In many ways, we relate sports to life. The quote titling this post was from watching the British Open a couple years ago. It was a narration about golfers who had almost won the golf tournament. Many players’ have lead the tournament, when beginning play on the final few holes. During that final stretch things had begun falling apart. The British Open is played over four days and 72 holes. Had the golf tournament been shorter, different champions would have been crowned. Some would have held the trophy if play had concluded after 69 holes, or 70 holes, or 71 holes. Golfers throughout the years have collapsed during the final few holes of the tournament. They have made costly mistakes, forcing them to miss out on holding the trophy. Thus, we find the quote, thou shalt finish. Any golf tournament must be played to its full extent in order to find the winner. The same can be said about situations we face in life. Things aren’t complete until they are finished. There might be time taken during the middle of any situation, but things aren’t complete until the situation has concluded. Some of these players’ may have simply given up, thinking they had the golf tournament won. They didn’t seem to remain diligent and continue fighting. It’s an important concept in life as well, continuing to fight through any situation.
Learning to finish was an extremely valuable lesson. One learned while learning to play golf. It became one on my first rules of etiquette. We are to refrain from walking off the golf course in the middle of our round. No matter how frustratingly difficult playing golf might be, it’s to continue moving through the day. I can’t tell you walking off a golf course has never occurred. It has happened during my life on more than one occasion. Sometimes we’re required to admit frustration gets the best of our emotions. But, hopefully we regroup and try again later. Even with the decision to walk off golf courses on occasion. There has never been the thought of quitting the game entirely. The desire to continue improving has always brought me back to the golf course. Cerebral palsy might cause the game to be more challenging. There’s an understanding that my swing is more difficult and shots don’t travel as far. But, the accomplishment has been simply playing golf with cerebral palsy. Finding a way past all of the frustration and finishing all 18 holes. That feeling of seeing something through to the end translates into life.
It’s difficult to put a finger on how many times we are faced with life changing situations. These situations might present themselves in many forms. Some battle cancer, or addiction, or other illness. One of my largest fights has always been cerebral palsy. But, battling the physical challenges aren’t the only tasks CP presents. There are also emotional and relational tests seemingly brought about by cerebral palsy. Those tests in relationships often show up because of negative judgment. Some opinions or conclusion can be drawn simply because someone has a disability. They can be looked upon as weaker than the group, therefore bullied by others whom view themselves as stronger. Their goal could be ensuring their own strength by attempting to make others appear weak. They may also be insecure about societies perceiving their strength, in defending that societal pressure they put others down. It seems difficult to truly understand why some people bully, but pushing people around because of their differences does seem to exist.
A bully can be defined as a person who uses strength or power to harm those who are weaker. They are looked upon as stronger and more powerful. Our natural thought could be that individuals who are challenged with a disability are weaker than the rest. Someone who would be defined as weak is lacking the power to perform physically demanding tasks. They are said to be lacking physical strength and energy. However, the word weakness does not appear in the definition of disability. That definition is a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities. It doesn’t seem being limited would translate to being weak. Even with limitations in movements, senses, or activities, we can be strong within the capacities we still have. With saying all of these things, there have been people close to me, who have used the challenges of cerebral palsy to bully.
Yet our society seems to perceive weakness for more than its true definition. The faltering idea that anything outside what is deemed the norm, can be labeled weak. Therefore, leading differences to allow those who bully to make us feel isolated. When bullies are allowed inside our close circle, they seem to be given free rein. We begin to believe their insults and buy into their belittlements that keep us feeling weak. Like me, the bully has you feeling like a failure, as if nothing is possible without their superior strength. You believe this garbage…. well, my hope is you don’t. However, this had become my line of thinking for years. When the bully gets close enough to infiltrate almost every part of life. Until one day it hits you, that something about the way you’re feeling just isn’t right. For me, there became an inkling, maybe cerebral palsy wasn’t making me weak, but my thoughts and actions were stripping something away. Was it possible I was allowing people to surround me who negatively influenced my thoughts about myself.
Upon discovering the pain a bully can cause instinct seems to take over. Sometimes instinct can be to run away from that kind of invasive pain. For me, moving away from the bully became my chosen course of action. Getting the emotional pain to stop was the main goal. But, simply moving away from people found to be causing pain, may not solve the entire situation. It can take time to truly understand situations that have brought about pain. When in the middle of painful situations, often we are simply trying to survive. Similar to the golfer who missteps on the final few holes of the golf tournament. Those actions cause pain when nearing the finish. The trophy may have been lost, but the journey isn’t over. There will be other chances to win golf tournaments. Sometimes that pain caused by the mistake may bring on time to reflect and regroup. It seems important to learn the tools needed to prevent those painful situations from happening again. For our golfer, it seems to be maintaining concentration to prevent another tournament from slipping away. In my situation, it’s preventing the bully from maintaining emotional control. We both are required to learn the tools to finish, if we choose.
Walking away from pain seems to be the first step. Then, once the choice is made to end pain, work begins to change life. The process of understanding objectives of a bully isn’t fun. Trying to gain peace with the reality of being manipulated can take time. But, after ground is gained within that process, the final step comes into view. Finishing becomes the most important challenge. The golfer has to put himself into position to win again, then fight back the fear of having failed. Hopefully driving through those final golf holes with confident determination. The person having been bullied must place themselves back into the ring with that bully. If the opportunity presents itself to engage in the closing conversation. It involves taking their power away by showing and telling them their influence has drawn to a close. The power they have enjoyed, possibly due to fear, has concluded. Once we begin to understand our strength to persevere, the fear to fail subsides for our golfer, and the opinion of our bully has no place.
Fighting through adversity seems part of our human experience. The golfer found misfortune on their way to victory. They had a lapse in concentration costing them the chance of achieving victory. But, growth and understanding can heal those situations. If effort leads to healing, a journey toward another opportunity takes shape. Maybe, when put in similar circumstances, our golfer has progressed enough in the journey to succeed on the golf course. In the same fashion, we handle someone who pushes us around. That person might belittle us or bully us, influencing thoughts about ourselves. Once we recognize the pain caused and remove ourselves from it, the journey can take shape. Part of my journey was beginning to more fully understand myself without negative influence. The realization became taking shape that my qualities were better than what people wanted me to believe. No longer was there satisfaction in being someone’s punching bag. When understandings like these can be found, we begin interaction differently with people. All of the sudden, words being used to isolate us into a weakened position don’t carry any weight. We begin standing on our own two feet and begin understanding how to protect those we care about. Growth has occurred for our golfer and our individual being bullied. Each has learned how to finish the process, and a new, stronger person begins to emerge.