The rise of depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem due to isolation, the pandemic, environment, and society has been well documented. People can face these issues in many environments from the home, school, workplace, or social situations. Life circumstances also play a major factor with loss, death, disappointments, toxic relationships, abuse, failure, alienation, the consistent life grind, etc.. The combination of all these things can beat one into submission; the submission of believing things about themselves that are not true. In these times, people can turn to the wrong choice, people, or things to solve the issue. I have been working with people for over 20 years, and have seen so many of these situations. There has been many conversations to try and help a player through a very difficult time. However, a few years ago, I went through one of these situations myself, through a combination of circumstances. I found myself in a position of extreme self-doubt, depression, and dealing with anxiety. It was like a slow drip, that over time had me in a deep place. I was scared and did not know how to escape. Yes, I am being very vulnerable right now, but isn’t that the point with our adversities? That it is worth sharing if it can help someone… That we are all human, imperfect, and we need each other. Life problems can trick you into isolation both physically and mentally; you need to know this is a lie and you are not alone. These are real issues that are not simple to overcome… In sports and coaching, we are wired to tough things out and not show weakness. For example, we have all been told to “change our attitude.” When people are facing these issues, it is not a “change of attitude” that is needed. We have all had to do that at times, but this was different. It was an all consuming invisible injury to the people around me, but I was trying to heal. I was really struggling and needed direction or strategies to defeat this battle.
One day I was standing alone on the practice field and felt God speak to me as clear as day, “Adam, remember who you are…” Now some of you may not believe in that kind of clarity, but that day it was clear to me. A mentor of mine, Coach Milt Travis (a highly respected and loved basketball coach in North Georgia) had always told me to rely on the truth. That in moments of doubt, to always lean on the truth that God loves us; and to remember all the times he has been there for us in our lives. That these moments were proof that he is still there, and he will be there in the future. In the tough times of un-truth or believing falsely about ourselves; it is imperative that we are reminded of the real truth. So for me the truth has to be backed up with facts or evidence. So I grabbed an index card on my desk and started writing. First, I wrote what I knew to be true and then who I know God says I am. Next, I wrote out bible verses that backed it up with biblical truths. I did this many days, writing them on practice schedules and even on my game call sheets. I chose those places for the “Truth Card” because I knew I would look at it often. When I would re-read or re-write, it would give me a peace, cleared mindset, confidence, and focus for the real task at hand. Truth trumps lies, and deep down I could breathe knowing everything was going to be ok. Today, I want to use this time of my life to encourage you to Remind, Understand, Trust, and Hope.
Today, Remind, Understand, Trust, & Hope
Today: Live in the Truth and immediate events, not in a negative past or in a concerned future. A U-Haul truck does not have a rearview mirror, but side mirrors only. You may feel weighed down and hauling a lot right now, but keep moving forward. Navigate today with what is in front of you and what is beside you. The less you look back at the negative, the further it will move away from you. The more you focus on the Truth, the windshield will become clearer and bigger. (I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.-Philippians 3:13)
Remind: Depression or negative thoughts will help you forget all the good you have experienced. Think of all the good times you have had in your life. This is proof that there are good times ahead. Think of all the times that God has helped you in your life. This is proof that he is still there helping you and will be in the future. These reminders of all the good in your life or times God has been there; will give you confidence and peace. Write down a few events on a card, note pad, or phone. (The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. -Deuteronomy 31:8)
Understand: Understand who you really are and who you strive to be each day. For me I wrote down, “I strive to be a great husband, a great father, and a coach for purpose” If at work, write down why you got in the profession in the first place and read it each morning. If it is an extracurricular activity, then do the same. Take yourself back to the real you! That no matter what, you still have a choice…. You are a warrior and have a great purpose. Depression and anxiety will trick you into thinking you have no choices, you have changed, or there is no going back to normal. Do not believe it for a second, there is light at the end of the storm…. Purpose gives us the fuel… The enemy wants to make you doubt yourself so much, that your purpose is paralyzed. Understand who you are: (I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works that He has prepared for me to do. -Ephesians 2:10)
Trust: Choose to trust and give credit for victory in advance. There is no way I could have weathered the storm without the Lord and support/guidance from good people. I love the story about the man who was frustrated with God in his struggle. The man cried out, “Lord why haven’t you sent someone to help me?”. The Lord replied, “Look around you, these people in your life, have been my angels all along.” So what is an angel? Someone who can do something for you that you can’t do for yourself. We have all had these people in our lives, either momentary or long term. Write down who and where you find your trust. Who or what comes to your mind? That no matter what, they got your back. You are not alone unless you want to be; trust is ultimately a choice. You can lean on these people or seek to find the right guidance. We grow up trusting guidance from our teachers, parents, pastors, coaches, etc…. This is no different, and a critical step toward victory. It takes a team or partner to defeat to win the battle. (Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9)
Hope: There is no greater positive power than hope, but there is also no greater devastating power than hopelessness. I have learned that either is a choice and only one is true. No one or thing can take “Hope” away unless we give it permission. There is always another second, minute, hour, day, etc… ahead of you for the good. I am a movie buff and love the film Castaway with Tom Hanks. If you have not seen the film, he is abandoned and isolated on a remote island for years after a plane crash. Once he is finally able to sail off the island, be rescued, and get back home… Tom says this quote: “I had to keep breathing. Even though there was no reason to hope… I stayed alive. I kept breathing. And one day my logic was proven all wrong because the tide came in, and gave me a sail. And now, here I am. Im back… Because now i know what I have to do now. I have to keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?” Live in the truth and natural high of hope…. Choose the confidence of a great unknown future. You will win this battle, you will get through this, there are good things ahead. Do not believe the logic that depression, negativity, or anxiety will tell you. (“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11)
Now do not get me wrong, the “Truth Card” alone did not bring me out of depression and anxiety. Just like in sports, it took a team of people with a common goal to win this battle. However, this was a tremendous tool that helped me and has since helped several others. We have discussed this at Coach’s Mindset Clinics and other venues since that time. A few things to remember is that this is relevant to each individual and their personal beliefs or thoughts. Some truths maybe true for all and some are different for each individual. The card is most effective when kept where it can be seen or touched. Whether, in your pocket, play sheet, on your desk, mirror, car, etc… This concept is fluid, some truths hold, but some need to be added or re-written. Truths could be spiritual or relevant to a persons age, environment, job, or time in life.
Sometimes we all need a little truth…. maybe a little card will help… We may not hear it from others, feel ashamed, or scared to seek help. Society will tell us to maintain an “Image” at all costs and to hide everything else. There is no shame, and you are actually showing incredible toughness. There is no greater strength than dropping your pride and seeking help. The world needs you and wants you to be whole, healed, and your best. Coming out the other side of the battle, I am stronger and have more clarity about others than ever before. I have been through many life disappointments, but this was by far my toughest battle to win. Battles leave scars, but remember that scars are signs of “Victory.” I also truly understand the meaning of ‘You never know what someone could be going through.” I now notice signs and symptoms of those struggling that I may not have see before. Seeking empathy and understanding in situations before passing judgement or making decisions. Trying to find the why behind choices and helping correct behavior, instead of just giving consequences. This awareness creates the opportunity to connect, share, and help.
These cards will sit on my desk for any necessary future talks…. If you ever want one, my door is open, please stop by and grab one. But most of all, they will be there as a reminder that everyone is special, because “You Are Born To Be Special….” And that is the Truth!