"Just because someone throws you a ball doesn't mean you have to catch it."

I heard or read that quote so many years ago that I no longer remember where it came from, but it is wisdom that has stuck with me, and I do believe it is one of life's greatest lessons. 

Every day, people are throwing balls of energy at us. The kids are whining, or demanding, or fussing about something. Our partners are wanting/needing something, or question a choice we made, or say something that sounds hurtful or inconsiderate. Friends may unknowingly try to overstep our boundaries with requests or desires. People in the world are just rude and inconsiderate.
Every day, a thousand times a day, these balls come flying at us! And our reaction, of course, is to catch those balls. 
But do we have to?
Do we have to *react*? That is the operative word here.
We have the choice in every situation as to whether we want to catch that ball and throw it back, or whether to just step to the side and let it sail right on by.
It takes practice. It takes A LOT of self-control and grounding and awareness. But I have found that the more I do it, the easier it becomes. 
It definitely helps to have your toolbox of side-stepping techniques. With the kids, I try mirroring their feelings with "I see that you're angry/disappointed/frustrated." With Jason or friends, I use, "I don't feel ready to talk about this right now," or "I need time to process this," or "Let me ponder that." With rude and inconsiderate people in the world, I have learned to just walk away from conversations that I might have otherwise engaged in.
Doing quick little visualizations helps too. I sometimes imagine myself in a bubble, and see the balls of energy bouncing off, like a force field. (Magic!) I also imagine my private emotional/psychological space as a forest, with a gate across the access road. On the gate, there is a big "NO TRESPASSING" sign. No one is allowed in without my invitation!
Catching and then rethrowing balls takes A LOT of energy. It drains our psycho-emotional well more quickly than anything else. Given that we already have such limited resources, it makes sense to protect our valuable energy reserves and use them for positive interactions that help to build relationships rather than damage them. 
One easy first exercise is to just say, "I give myself permission to NOT catch this ball."
Today I invite you to notice every time a ball is thrown at you. Notice how that ball of energy feels. Notice how YOU feel in response to that ball. Do you catch it? What does catching look and feel like to you? Do you immediately throw it back? If you chose not to catch it, what would that look at feel like to you? What tools do you need in your toolbox in order to sidestep when it's coming right toward you? 
How would consciously choosing which balls to catch or not catch change your practice of sacred self-care, my dear Sisters?



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