One Offense at a Time| January 31, 2023
One offense at a time is a strategy that has brought teams back from seemingly insurmountable deficits to stunning victories
One Offense at a Time
There’s a saying among basketball players: “Play the game one offense at a time.” It doesn’t matter how many points down your team is. It doesn’t matter what your win-loss record is, who’s on the court, if your best player is out with an injury, or you’re planning to quit tomorrow. Stay focused, utilize all the tools you have, and do your best right now. One offense at a time is a strategy that has brought teams back from seemingly insurmountable deficits to stunning victories.
In the 12-step program, there’s a similar concept: One day a time. It doesn’t matter how many days of sobriety you’ve had, how many times you’ve slipped up before, or if your support circle is temporarily unavailable. Just get through today, utilizing all your tools, even if you’re 100 percent sure that tomorrow you’ll use whatever substance or behavior you’ve disengaged from.
How can you apply this winning strategy in your own life?
Imagine this scenario. David, five years old, has a weak immune system and has undergone a medical procedure that requires him to stay in a glass enclosure in complete isolation for one month. His mom stays right outside; they can see and hear each other but they can’t have any physical contact.
David is lonely, he’s in pain, he can’t take it anymore. Mom is overwhelmed with the enormity of David’s feelings. She feels she must disregard doctor’s orders and take him in her arms. What does Mom do?
What can she do? She can sit with her pain. She doesn’t need to deny it or pretend it doesn’t exist; she can accept her pain, and acknowledge how incredibly difficult staying outside that room is. She might even use the word “impossible.” And yet her love for her child would push her to find a strategy to stay put.
Perhaps she’d reassure herself that the doctors might find a cure by tomorrow. Perhaps she’ll visualize the moment when she’ll be allowed to hold and comfort him. She will remind herself in myriad ways that salvation can come at any moment; she just needs to get through today. And if today is too long to get through, she’ll find a way to get through the next hour. Or the next minute.
“One day at a time” doesn’t demand that we overpower our unhealthy desires. It allows us to admit the enormity of whatever we’re facing, accept our lack of control over it, and make a choice to forgo the immense relief we’d feel if we gave in.
While this is an essential tool for overcoming addiction, it’s also incredibly helpful for day-to-day living. Feel pressured to answer the phone during dinner? Allow yourself to sit in the discomfort for 30 seconds till it stops ringing. Buzzing with the need to read one more chapter? Put the book aside, then set a timer for five minutes and curiously observe the emotions and physical sensations you experience.
Experiment feeling your feelings without letting them dictate your actions — one minute at a time.
Shoshana Schwartz specializes in addiction and codependency. She gives in-person and online addiction prevention lectures and workshops to education and mental health professionals, community leaders, and parent groups, as well as 12-Step workshops for non-addicts.
I Contribute, He Controls
It’s interesting to note that the word bechirah, choice, has the same root as the word bochur or bachurah.
Rav Wolbe in the sefer Alei Shur points out that it’s because young adults make very important decisions at this stage in life.
We learn from this that if Hashem wanted us to have a lot of life experience when making decisions, He would have set up the world in such a way that we choose marriage partners, business careers, and future homes only when we were much older and more experienced, maybe at 50 or 60 years old.
But the fact that we make all these decision in young adulthood shows Hashem doesn’t expect us to have life experience at the time of these choices. Because decision-making is a form of hishtadlus only: I contribute, but Hashem controls.
We need to do the best we can with the limited knowledge we have.
Chazal tell us “Ein lo l’dayan ela mah sh’einav ro’os — Judges can only make a ruling based on the knowledge they have at the time of the ruling.” If new evidence comes to light years later, they don’t refer to the old ruling as sheker.
We are all judges; we all make decisions. We can’t look back at past decisions and say “if only I had known.”
Even if a decision ultimately turns out to be a mistake, we need it to reframe it as such: There was Hashgachah in what we knew at the time. Would’ves, should’ves, and could’ves are irrelevant through the lens of bitachon.
Dina Schoonmaker has been teaching in Michlalah Jerusalem College for over 30 years. She gives women’s vaadim and lectures internationally on topics of personal development.
Sarah Rivkah Kohn
Let the doer beware: When you’re constantly giving to others out of fear of letting another person down, that’s usually not a healthy sort of giving. In fact, that kind of giving is often a way out of the fears and anxieties one may be grappling with — be it fear of judgment if you don’t come through, or fear of disappointing society by not stepping up to the plate.
The trouble with this sort of giving is that, like other avoidant behaviors, it only feeds the anxieties and insecurities further.
True giving in healthy relationships comes from a place where you want to lift another up in whatever way works for them. However, if it comes at too heavy a price to your values, family, or spiritual compass, you’re okay redirecting this to another helpful person or saying you can’t come through, because there is no fear as to how that reflects on you.
Sarah Rivkah Kohn is the founder and director of Zisel’s Links and Shlomie’s Club, an organization servicing children and teens who lost a parent.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 829)
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