His shoulders were slumped and his head hung as he returned to the bench. He had missed a wide open net and his disappointment was evident. As he sat in defeat between shifts, his mind and imagination ran wild, filled with negative thoughts and harmful self-talk. He felt judged for his failed opportunity. He felt that he disappointed the team and let them down. He told himself that he didn’t measure up to the talent on the ice and that he didn’t deserve to be out there with us.
What he didn’t consider is that every single player on the ice has made the same mistake numerous times, including pros, thus no one was judging him. He didn’t give himself credit for doing his best, which is all his teammates could ask for. Most importantly, he didn’t realize that just showing up was his victory. Why? Because he’s on the Autism spectrum and social situations can cause him extreme stress. He also battles depression, debilitating bouts that often cause him to skip our skates. But he showed up that day and gave it his all. Instead of judging him, our respect for him grows every time he shows up. We didn’t care if he scored. We just wanted him out there with us.