I started to play squash 5 months ago. A fast game where you burn all your calories in minutes. I was moving as fast as possible, all the directions, trying to hit the ball hard, fast and with no possibility of return. I was happy, tired and satisfied. I learned how to play in minutes. I was the king, I won! During the next months I was better and better. challenging more people and winning. One day I challenged a good friend: „I will beat you with 7-0 !!!” I knew I could, I was frequently winning on him with 5-2, 4-3. No big challenge. I lost 1-6.
For me personal development is to be aware of what happens to me, to listen my thoughts and understand why things come to me. For me personal development is a tool to be happy. For me losing 1-6 was painful, I haven’t been playing for 2 weeks after. How could that happen and why? I had to win again but how? What did I do wrong? I asked and asked and my answer came through The inner game of tennis by Thimothy Gallwey who has set forth in the 1970’s a new methodology for professional excellence in a variety of fields, like tennis. He speaks about the dialogue going on in the player’s head between the voice giving the commands and making the judgments called „Self 1.” and the one it is talking to, called „Self 2.”. Self 1 is the know-it-all who basically doesn’t trust Self 2, the one who has to hit the ball. Out of mistrust, Self 1 is trying to control Self 2’s behavior using the tactics it had learned from its teachers, books, TV. In other words, the mistrust implied by the judgmental context is being internalized by the Self 1. The resulting is self-doubt and over-control. Actually I realized I lost because of that noise in my head, because of the pressure and mistrust appeared after loosing some points. I challenged again my friend and I used some of the tactics learned – the best performance happened when Self 1’s voice was quiet and Self 2 is allowed to hit the ball undisturbed and it worked. I won!
I was back on track but aware of my inner game. I was playing and listening my thoughts. I was ready to take more challenges and push my limits. But it didn’t work so well. Winning was no more such an easy thing for me. I was mentally and physically at my limits. Too much adrenalin. After a while I started to have pains in my right knee. I had again to stop and ask myself „what’s wrong, why is this happening to me”? I realized that wishing to win was keeping me always in the future. I was not present to the game, to the moment. I was only focusing on the final result and looking for pride. I changed. I decided to play each ball, to give my best no matter of the result.
It started by being more successful than ever. I was under no pressure and I was winning more. For a while I had no more knee pain but soon I had pain in both knees. Now what!? Why is this happening to me? I am just 36, how can it be? Do I have to quit squash and maybe all the sports?! What is my body trying to tell me? … And this was my mind opening question … what is my body trying to tell … that was the moment I finally got in touch with my body. I stopped and looked in the past and saw I always asked performance from him and my body was there for me as my best and trustful friend ever. I always used him and never listen to his needs. I was almost crying embracing him with love and affection. I gave him time and I enjoyed connecting with him.
Now I play and enjoy each ball. Squash became for me a game where instead of hunting decisive shots I aim to control the court, to keep the central position and hit precise shots to make my opponent a difficult return, not an impossible one. I see my partners playing to win, I see them wishing to get all the balls and I understand them. Sometimes happens to me too but now I know why I do play squash and I always go back to my commitment to my body: we are here both to enjoy this experience. So, relax and enjoy.
And I also accept that something new might come.