Has Life Thrown You a Curveball? 4 Ideas to Hit It Out of the Park


October 11, 2012   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

I’m one of a very small percentage of women who love baseball. I mean, I love it.

I love everything from the hum of the crowd to the pleasant chit-chat of the announcers to the long history of the game.

But my favorite part about baseball is the strategy and the cat-and-mouse game that goes on between pitcher and batter.

It’s really something to see a pitcher set up a batter with three straight fastballs only to strike him out with a knee-buckling, twelve-to-six rainbow curveball.

While it’s great to watch something like that in the sports world, it’s certainly not so great when you get one of life’s curveballs thrown at you in your own world.

It seemed that everything was going along well in your life and suddenly something happens that causes your knees to buckle.You lose your job.

You find out you have a serious health issue.

Your wife says she wants a divorce.

Whatever it is, the curve that life just threw you can leave you flailing wildly, just like that batter who was expecting the same old fastball but got the big bender instead.

Here are four things you can learn from that curveball that will help you get ready for the next time it’s thrown at you.

1. Become More Flexible in Your Expectations

The veteran hitter in baseball has learned what to do to at least make contact with the curveball and stay in the game.

He widens his expectations.

Even though that at-bat is going along just fine and the pitcher has thrown him three fastballs, the experienced hitter knows that, at any time, a big curve could come at him.

So, rather than wave crazily when it does come, the hitter is prepared. He waits for it and takes care of it when it comes his way.

Like that veteran batter, you can be prepared for the curveballs in your life by realizing that life is all about change. It’s when we get hypnotized into thinking that we have everything under control and know what’s coming next that we get ourselves into trouble.

Remembering that change is a constant and keeping this as a conscious thought will allow you to better handle adversity when it comes your way. The element of surprise is taken out and, since you have a degree of flexibility about life, you are not left standing there stunned in life’s batter’s box.

2. Learn from Past Experience

But sometimes even the veterans who are hitting over .300 will be caught off guard by the curveball.

Looking for the fastball, he takes a mighty cut, only to find that the ball hasn’t even reached the plate yet and it’s about eight inches below his swing anyway.

What happens then? Does he decide he’s a failure, trudge back to the dugout and give up?

No. He takes a deep breath, learns from what he’s just seen, and gets back into the box.

While the crazy curves that life presents can be frustrating, do what the batter does: take a deep breath, figure out what you need to do to adjust to the changes in your life, and step back into the box.

And prepare yourself beforehand for the inevitable ups and downs that come along with being human. Just as a batter might study videos of the pitcher before the game, think about the tough spots in your life that you’ve already overcome.

What did you do to make it through? What did you learn from the experience?

Knowing that you have handled difficult times in the past will give you the confidence you need to successfully deal with them in the present or future.

3. Practice

The hitters who can handle the curveballs are the ones who practice, practice, practice.

They take lots of swings in batting practice, they study scouting reports, and they use each opportunity against a wily pitcher to add to their repertoire of how to handle tricky situations.

You can look at problems this way, too.

They suck while they’re happening, but with practice you can learn how to solve them more easily and not be broadsided by them.

4. The Art of Failure

So you’ve swung and missed at one of life’s curveballs. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure.

Even the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams, failed 60% of the time he came to the plate. Yet he is one of the legends of the sport.

As Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

Failure and its ensuing tenacity have produced some of our greatest moments from the invention of the light bulb (Edison tried 10,000 times before he finally got it right) to Michael Jordan’s game-winning shots ( “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”)

Instead of shying away from failure or something that might cause you to fail, take a look at how your failures can help you to begin again, to be steadfast in the face of adversity, and create your greatest moments.

The next time that curveball gets thrown your way, you’ll recognize it for what it is and hit it out of the park.

Written on 10/11/2012 by Bobbi Emel. Psychotherapist Bobbi Emel specializes in helping people face life’s significant challenges and regain their resiliency. Download her free ebook, “Bounce Back! 5 keys to survive and thrive through life’s ups and downs.” You can find her blog at http://www.TheBounceBlog.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Photo Credit:

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