by Kristina Wilder, M.A.
This spring I went to Yankee Stadium to see the New York Yankees play the Minnesota Twins. One of the Twins players was ejected from the game after he disagreed with an umpire’s call; the manager of the Twins was also ejected after he yelled at the umpire for tossing out his player. The Yankees beat the Twins 8 to 3. I have been to a number of ball games, and this ranks among one of my favorites.
If it was the ball game that caused my happiness, everyone would have felt happy at the game. Rather, it’s the beliefs I held about the game that resulted in happiness. Yankees fans who think “my team must win” probably felt happy after the game; conversely, Twins fans that thought “my team must win; I can’t stand it if they lose, and any team that beats them is evil” probably went home depressed or angry. Some may have yelled at the umpire “you should not make bad calls and should not toss out players for muttering about a bad call. This is the worst bad call in the history of bad calls and it could not possibly get worse.” The ejected player might have thought “the ump should not have made that call, and he is a terrible and awful umpire because he called that ball a strike;” the manager that was ejected afterwards might have thought “that umpire was totally unfair for tossing my player, and he must behave fairly.” Yankees fans watching the Twins player and ump getting tossed from the game may have had a different emotional experience, perhaps they thought “my team must win, and now they are more likely to, yippee!” which resulted in a different emotional experience.
Our demands can prevent us from enjoying our lives. We can modify the irrational beliefs we hold that can get us into trouble (like demands, downing, catastrophizing, and frustration intolerance) to rational ones, which then change our mood. Other beliefs might be:
- While I would like my team to win, there is no universal rule that because I want my team to win they must do so. If my team does not win, it sucks, but I can stand it – I know I can stand it because my team has lost before.
- I want my team to win, but even if they lose that does not mean everything is terrible. I can still find things I enjoy in my life (and maybe even about the experience of the game) that I enjoy.
- Even though I don’t want people I root for tossed from a ball game, that does not mean they must not be. Just because the ump made a bad call does not make him a totally awful person.
As a Twins fan, I could have felt depressed or angry following the game. Although I wanted my team to win, I can tolerate the loss (thankfully so, because they’ve lost a lot this season). I enjoyed other things about the game, like the weather or when a fan jumped onto the field and then was tackled by security. I don’t like that the manager and player were tossed from the game, but it was pretty funny to see the manager all worked up and see him get tossed first hand (the manager frequently gets tossed from games). Each event is not wholly awful or terrible; there are things I can enjoy about them.
I’m not perfect though, I have work to do: I still sometimes think the Yankees are evil.