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  • Writer's picture Bill Stamps

When you can't "shake it off."

Sports teach us a lot of lessons that can be applied to our everyday lives. That’s because in many ways, life is a game and some of the things that make us winners on the court or field can also help us be winners in life. When something doesn’t go a player’s way, he or she is told to shake it off. This is a lesson in battling adversity. Shake it off means to not let something affect you. Shake, and not let it stick to you.

When players are told to shake it off, it’s almost always after they have made a mistake. Sometimes it’s after making multiple mistakes. The lesson to be learned is that no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. Even if you don’t make mistakes, there are still going to be situations or circumstances that don’t work out the way we wanted. However, if you get it out of your mind, and get back on the field, many times you’ll do better the next time.

Although this is a valuable lesson, there are rare occasions in life when we simply can’t shake something off. There are some things we can’t just get out of our minds. At least not for a period of time. There are some things we can’t just pretend never happened and get back to our everyday lives. This is usually after some sort of traumatic event. Death is probably the most obvious example. It may be our own near death experience or the passing of someone we know. Some deaths hit us harder than others. It could be a close friend. It could be a famous person you’ve idolized for a long time. For some, the death of a special teacher or coach may be hard to shake off. Some are traumatized by the death of a beloved pet. It all depends on what that person or animal meant to you. In some cases the death of a friend or mentor may be harder to shake off than the death of their own spouse or even a parent.

When these situations occur we need to remember that it is ok if they are hard to deal with. That is normal. The greater the trauma the more likely someone is to need mental health counseling. Grief is an unfortunate but normal part of life and some grief is harder to deal with than others. This is normal. So when you find yourself not being able to shake it off, don’t worry. There’s no way to know how long the pain will last but it will eventually go away. But in these rare instances, some of the pain may stick to you, leaving a lasting indelible mark. And just like a real scar, it becomes a part of you and will always be there whether you think about it or not.

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