Have you heard the story about the ceremonial first pitch at last night’s Chicago White Sox game being one of the worst EVER? I don’t currently follow baseball and only know about it because it’s all over the news and was a topic of conversation on LIVE With Kelly and Ryan, leading them to discuss why they would never throw out the first pitch at a ball game. Well, Kelly would never. In fact, according to her, not only would she never, she would “never never never never never”. She does not want to be in a position of being booed by the crowd. Ryan had done it once before and said that even though he’d thought he’d done a fairly good job by getting it to home plate, apparently it wasn’t good enough as far as the crowd was concerned and he’d been booed, leading him to refuse to ever do it again. While the odds aren’t good that I’ll be asked to throw out a ceremonial first pitch anytime soon, I’ll tell you right now that I would absolutely do it. If you think it’s because I assume I’d do a “great” job and not be booed by the crowd, guess again! While my pitching arm is nothing to write home about, not allowing the boos from the crowd to keep me from doing anything is a muscle I’ve been working on for quite some time for this very reason: I decided that I can’t afford not to.
We live in a world that’s much quicker to understand what we can afford in monetary terms rather than life-limiting terms. We easily understand if we can’t afford a yacht or a beach vacation, and accept if dining out several nights a week may uncomfortably stretch our budget, and yet we’re slow to realize the life-limiting costs of everyday behaviors that rob us of potential joy. If we could put a dollar amount on what our concern over what the crowd thinks of us truly costs us, I’d wager that it’s more than any of us can actually afford to spend. As noted above, it keeps us from trying new things. It causes us to dim our lights, lower our voices, shrink inside of ourselves. It forbids us from experiencing the true freedom of discovery and expression of self and our unlimited capacity, all due to the fear of being booed by the crowd. But here’s the rub: the crowd is only as real as you make it.
If you’re scratching your head over that one, let me put it this way: it’s not that the boo-ers and naysayers don’t exist, but rather that they need not be a factor in your world unless you allow them that power by forfeit. Since I’m sure you’d rather not take that route, follow me and begin now: their opinion of you from this point on is of no concern to you. How things appear to others is no longer a driving force in what you choose to do or not do. Don’t expect this to come “naturally”. That is to say, if you wait to truly “not care” what others think, you may be waiting for awhile. We’re human and thus, wired to care, but we also have the capacity to redirect our thinking in a manner that will serve and empower us. And how do you do that? With the same type of thinking you use that doesn’t allow you to spend money you don’t have. Ever want something that you can’t afford to buy? Going to assume that’s a yes… You don’t buy it simply because you want it. You understand that you don’t have the luxury of purchasing every single thing with your hard-earned dollars just because the voice of want invaded your thoughts. Your Spirit “dollars” are even more hard earned and valuable! So it becomes not about trying to make yourself “stop wanting” but instead truly grasping the realization that regardless of what you want or don’t want– you don’t have the luxury of squandering on the fitful thoughts and opinions of others. And we’re all “others”. We’re ALL the crowd. Or we’re ALL not the crowd. We can either help or hinder one another, but we don’t have the luxury of waiting for the other guy to decide which one that’ll be.
***I’d just like to add kudos here to the person who threw that pitch last night. She looked like she was having a ball. What some people can’t yet comprehend is that it’s NOT about the thing you think it’s about. What did it matter how “well” she threw the ball? The fact is, she had the balls to get in the game. And THAT’S what it’s about.