Playing Small Ball

When you were a child you lived in a narrow world comprised almost entirely of your parents, grandparents and perhaps an occasional aunt or uncle. That was about it. For good or ill, this narrow world shaped your existence. It determined your values, behaviors and beliefs. Whether you agreed with your parents or rebelled against them, their world set the standard through which you viewed life.

You developed behaviors and beliefs to deal with your “small ball world”. You learned to cope. You adopted beliefs and behaviors that worked (sort of), in that world with those particular people. It wasn’t pretty and it was far from perfect, but it got you through what is often a difficult situation. After all, parents at their loving best aren’t perfect and at their worst, can be exploitive, abusive or unloving.

And that can cause some real problems as you try to apply your “small ball” beliefs (the only ones you have ever known and that you have learned to live by) to a world in which they are likely to be largely irrelevant. Let’s take an extreme example for illustration. Let’s say you were sexually abused as a youngster.

In that world there were bad guys who treated you very cruelly. And you were completely vulnerable to them and powerless to defend yourself. And you were alone. Incredibly, painfully alone.

You developed a whole range of behaviors and defenses that were appropriate to that world. And the defenses you developed would have been substantial. No one was going to get in. It was just too dangerous! It was too risky to lower the drawbridge – the bad guys were out there, and you could not defend yourself – other than by completely closing the door.

Today, you live in a much broader world with different people and different values. Your defenses are largely unnecessary in this world. In the present world the people are largely loving and kind. Your friends and partner would never do anything to hurt you intentionally. Most of the rest of the world, if given the opportunity, would be loving and compassionate or at worst, indifferent. Sure, there are bad guys out there, but you avoid them.

The one who lived through the abuse, in all likelihood, will not see things that way. She will have built a life based on the experiences of her “small ball” world. And unfortunately, but understandably, she she carries that into the present. She still lives in a dangerous, abusive, unloving world.

Until you change them, your stuck with your “small ball” beliefs. You cannot ignore her because she controls most of your life. Today, in reality she doesn’t need to block others out, but she is unable to accept that. It’s just too big a threat.

OK, so that’s an extreme example. Your childhood was probably not abusive, but the same principles will still apply. If your parents weren’t able to give love you needed you will have decided that you were unlovable. You will have built coping mechanisms around that. If your parents were overly critical, you would have developed compensations for that too . . . and so it goes. Sure, your parents probably did the best they could, but that’s not the point. Your beliefs were shaped by their fears, anxieties and love (or lack of it).

Today the people who shaped your “small ball world” do not control your life. You are your own person now and are, at least in theory, free to develop your own beliefs and behaviors. And we do to some extent, but the apple rarely falls very far from the tree.

The tragedy is that living from the “small ball” cuts you off from life. You cannot openly accept the love of friends or a partner because of what you believe about yourself. You are not truly free to express yourself either, crippling your career or other life choices. Fears and anxieties dominate your life and probably your health.

What to do? The steps are simple, but they can be difficult.

First and most importantly, give her the unconditional love she needs. Be there for her – really be there. Make this connection the most important thing in your life, because it is! She is the doorway to your emotional health and well being.

If you have a reaction to a situation, that’s her, plain and simple. And until she changes, she’s going to react based on her past conditioning. If she’s going to change so that you/she can live more in the present, she’s going to need your love to create a place of sanctuary so she can safely explore new ways of being.

If you only show up part of the time or when it’s convenient, you treat her as “they” did, and believe me, you don’t want that. That’s playing “small ball.” Be there. Be there. Be there. If you do nothing else but this, loving her unconditionally will bring about significant changes in your life.

The second thing to do, once you have firmly established a loving relationship with her, is to gently but firmly encourage her out of her “small ball” thinking. Show her that the people in your world are unlike those who shaped her early years. They don’t respond to you in the old ways. Demonstrate to her that you make good choices in friends and partners. Point out to her that you have avoided “bad guys” and provided protection for her for a long time now.

Put your life into a “now” and “then” perspective. That was then, this is now. Her compensations were necessary “then,” but they are not needed now. In fact, they inhibit you today. She will understandably resist. She doesn’t know you, probably doesn’t trust you yet and certainly doesn’t feel safe around “them.” This will take some time, and a good deal of patience on your part, but if you can stay with it, it’s worth it.

She wants out of her self-imposed prison worse that you do. She actually will have a good deal of motivation to change, but she must feel safe enough to move from situations that were once filled with pain and rejection. When she was vulnerable in the past, she got slammed. You are asking her to trust that people will not do that today. Complicating matters is that because of her fears, she may not have made the best choices in friends or partners. Recognize that being more exposed and vulnerable is a huge step for her. Be patient. Her fortress took years to build.

The process can be very difficult and I have simplified it for purposes of explanation, for there are subtleties and nuances that can present roadblocks to a smooth transition. If you hit a rough spot, get competent help. Find a good shaman. This work can be difficult to do on your own. I could not have done this by myself. A properly trained shaman has dealt with their own small ball beliefs and will be able to identify the pitfalls and guide you through the process.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. I can tell you from my own experience and from those of many clients that nothing will bring you the peace and contentment like putting your “small ball” world behind you. The “small ball” is a prison, and freeing yourself from it is literally like coming out of a cave into the sunlight for the first time. But, you must first decide that you want out of prison and that you’re willing to face the anxiety that change creates.


a note: This subject invariably brings up the question, “Well, what about my own children? Am I not harming them?” The answer is twofold. First, they have their own karmic journey and you are a participant in that. Second, and most importantly, whatever you do with them, do it with love. You probably weren’t loved unconditionally as a child, and so you know firsthand what it’s like to feel deprived. Do what you must with your kids, but never ever let them think that you don’t love them. If you do that, it doesn’t really matter what else you do.

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2016

Leave a Reply