Stay in the Heat

Team Ritual
Last Updated:
July 10, 2022

We talk about our relationships as if they have a life of their own. They run their course, things will ‘work themselves out’, or they ‘should be effortless’. But think of one thing in your life that you cherish, that is without effort? Good ‘ol Theodore Roosevelt said it: “Nothing worth having comes easy.

Athletes know this best. Athletes live this, practicing all year round to succeed through one season. Doing repetitive drills so that when it comes down to that one crucial moment, their system is ready. Rewatching old tapes to see what they did wrong, where they can improve, and what was on point and worthy of celebration.

In this regard, we say, relationships are just like a sport.

Let’s take tennis for example, and apply the same traits and qualities to our relationship. We don’t throw the racket away after one bad match. We come back the next day and play again. We don’t take one serve and fail if our ball is out of bounds. We serve again. We practice to become better, so that “better” becomes our second nature with time. The more we practice the easier it becomes. Oh, and of course, we aim for love ;)

If we don’t carve out time, practice and commitment we’ll never perfect that tree-pose or crush that pickle-ball game.  Change takes time and doesn’t happen overnight - you don’t wake up being able to do a scorpion handstand.

Getting great doesn’t happen overnight, and the same goes for relationships. It takes time and effort, and basically, a really good workout regime.

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Relationships are the same as a sport in that they:

  • Require dedication, intentionality, and commitment.
  • Require our time and resources.
  • Require us to learn, grow, adapt, modify. Practice.
  • Give us permission to play. We will have losses and wins. Each will offer depth, strength and character to our relationship and interaction. Each is an opportunity to learn something new.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto
Let’s reflect on some core elements that we can easily adopt when we’re giving our body a good workout, but somehow we never thought to apply to our heart workout:
  • Stay in the heat - This is the hot sometimes hellish place that many of us avoid. This is the heart of the argument, scuffle or disagreement. Breath into and stay, or at the very least call timeout, but come back to the play. In other words, step out of your comfort zone and get into the growth zone.
This is called meaningful endurance - the ability to stay in discomfort in order to grow and develop.
  • It’s not about blame - the blame game in sports never gets teams anywhere. You and your partner are on the same team after all. It’s not about blame, but about taking the learnings and evolving towards a better outcome next time. Rather than blaming, take ownership. Review your contribution to the play. It might feel vulnerable and hard, but looking away won’t get you to gold.
Blame gets defenses up and your partner out.
  • Your mistakes are your map for growth & success - ever wonder why athletes, and coaches, put themselves through the pain and anguish of watching mess up, misses and losses over and over and over again? It’s so they can get better. In order to focus on the skills that require more practice, strength training, or what needs releasing - you have to be willing to watch the playback, and assess yourself.

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The places we miss each other are the places with the most potential for finding our blind spots, unearthing core beliefs, empathy fumbles, and vulnerability goals.
  • Learn and let go, there’s a new game around the corner - Once you’ve played (and replayed), mapped out what needs to be worked on, and built a strategy for game-time, it’s time to let it go and get pumped for the next game. What gives you the grit to give it your all is the love for the game (i.e. your partner). Your commitment, desire, and consistent showing up is what will make the difference.
Forgive yourself and your partner, and move on.
  • You don’t need your partner to analyze your game - Yeah, it’d be great if you could review a play-by-play of your disagreements together, and you could point out where you could have done better and they could have done better. But that’s not always possible, or even necessary. You are working on your relationship for you - so you know that you are showing up and doing your best.
Be the change. As couples therapist Esther Perel says, it takes two people to create a pattern, and only one to change it.  

Ask yourself how have you been approaching your relationships? Have you been a fan on the bleachers? Or are you out there bringing your A-game? Are you practicing, committing, and showing up how you want to be? Or is there somewhere that could use some more of your attention and focus?

When we learn a new sport or game, we are forgiving with ourselves as we get the hang of the rules, strategy, skill and strength required to excel. It’s time we adopt a similar mindset when it comes to our relationships. Navigating relationships requires a lot, but you aren’t expected to figure it all out on your own. We’re here to coach you through it so you can build strength and stamina, and have it be fun and rewarding. Shall we go for the gold? We’re in if you are.

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