At the moment, I am still in mourning. The loss of the US Men’s National Team to Belgium was extremely emotional for me. It is possible that I take these things too seriously but in the end the reason that I do is that sport is a metaphor for life. Soccer especially seems to encapsulate the struggles that we all endure through our time here on Earth. All of the pundits will give their opinions about what happened with the USMNT and here is mine.
Each of us has a self-image. We see ourselves in particular ways because of past experiences and our view of how we fit into the world. This self-image can serve us in many positive ways. It sets up an identity that we work to maintain consistently. We know who we are, what we do and where we stand. It creates comfort for us and those around us because everyone knows what to expect. The issue with a self-image is that it can become stagnant. Although it creates comfort, it does not particularly allow for progress, which requires change.
In the minds of the USMNT, there lies an old self-image of an underdog team. Their coach has called for a new identity that looks for them to be more assertive in their approach. Klinsmann has imagined that they could be something different. His picture of who the USMNT should be is ambitious. It was not fully realized by all of the players. I’m not sure that they completely believed in the new image. The moments where they seemed to play best were when they were losing, embracing that old image of the underdog. In order to get where they want to go, the USMNT will need to imagine that they can be more. The image won’t show up in reality until it has been accepted mentally. Over the next four years Juergen Klinsmann will continue to profess this new image to his players and the country. We will see if US Soccer is able to let go of what it was in favor of what it can be. It is a process that we must all go through in life, letting go of who we were in favor of who we will be.
As you sit here reading, think of yourself but not as you are right now. Think of your best self. Use your “self-imagination” to come up with a picture of who you are at your peak. Most likely it isn’t where you are right now. How do you get there? You make that picture your self-image. See yourself, as you want to be, and then take the actions that the new image requires. Write it down and read it every day as many times as you need to until it is burned into your brain. Be you but be the best you that you can be.