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 Kick Off...Mental Health for Rugby League

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No one is an island. No one can travel life’s path alone; isolate & insular. We all exist in a world involving relationships of differing types and the need for communication & interaction with others. This is one of the components of life’s mechanics. Because of the significance of this fact, it is imperative that we all give due attention to the maintenance and improvement of our existing relationships & the continuing development of our skills in establishing new relationships. 


Relationships can be divided into categories, though there are no set rules as to which are more or less important. This may vary according to the individuals involved. Despite this, one thing is for sure; the relationship with your wife/partner and your children is the most essential.



Relationship Groups



(1)                   Immediate family (Wife/partner & children)



(2)                  Family (Parents/Guardians, siblings & very close relatives) 



(3)                 Close Friends (not acquaintances, but those with whom you can share any of your

                       innermost deep thoughts and who you can trust implicitly



(4)                 Friends (those you tend to generally socialize with on a regular basis) 



(5)                 Teammates 



(6)                  Coaching & Conditioning Staff 



(7)                  Club Officers (involves administrative staff, CEO, Board Members) 



(8)                  Employer & co-workers 



(9)                  Sponsors, fans, general acquaintances 



(10)               Others (those people you have casual interactions with) 




'Love is the free excercise of choice. Two people love each other only when they are quite capable of living without each other but 'choose' to live with each other'....................M. Scott Peck



Your relationship with your wife/partner & children, if you have them, should be your number one (1) priority. The sheer statistics relating to depression, suicide, murder suicide, crime, aggression & violence, financial cost, court & legal issues etc…suggest strongly that the consequences of these relationships ‘gone astray’ are immense & potentially tragic & life-long. They affect everyone connected; yourself, your children, your ‘ex’, your friends (particularly mutual friends), your family, your club and your employment. 


How we relate to one another or behave in a relationship can often be traced back to our experiences as children and the influence and ‘role modeling’ from our parental figures. Similarly, experiences in past relationships and incidents during our ‘formative’ years of development can also shape the manner in which we perceive our relationships. 


Do you often wonder why the daughter of an alcoholic can often find themselves in a relationship with someone suffering the same affliction? The answer is not clear cut, though many propose that (1) the sense of familiarity will unconsciously lead to this bonding or (2) there is the desire to solve the problems of the individual’s youth; revisiting the vivid experiences of childhood and attempting to ‘put it right’ or ‘change it’. This can also apply to situations of abuse. 


Don’t think that one purposefully or intentionally seeks this. There are documented instances where someone has become involved with a person who has no drinking or gambling problem or history of such, yet they incredibly develop it later in the relationship. Why? Is there a recognition of the characteristics and personality type susceptible to addiction or does the individual create the circumstances and environment that nurtures this anomaly? 


There are relationships that are ‘battlefields’; where one or both of the individuals involved ‘war’ with each other, yet remain together. They find it unpleasant, though there is a kind of morbid comfort due to the familiarity with, and resemblance to, their childhood experiences. 


Other relationships may involve a ‘skewed’ type of situation where one partner is particularly dominant and the other more submissive. This is not restricted to the ‘typical’ male dominant stereotype. It may also apply to a dominant female. 


These relationships mentioned are not healthy, even if they last for extended periods of time. Simply citing the longevity of a relationship as a measure of success denies the dynamics involved, the influence on the parties involved and the direct and collateral damage to those connected, particularly any children that may ensue. 


Relationships can be dysfunctional or functional. A sound relationship is based on mutual understanding and trust; an acknowledgement of each other’s role and an acceptance of minor, unique and individual personality traits & characteristics. 


Do not think that you will never confront difficulties or experience problems. That is simply life. The essence of a good relationship is the capacity of the parties to ‘work through’ these, communicate with each other and respect each other. Always remember there is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ person and therefore no such thing as a ‘perfect relationship’. It can be ‘good’, ‘sound’, ‘effective’, ‘loving’, ‘satisfying’, ‘pleasurable’, but not necessarily ‘perfect’. It is fine to aspire to perfection, though don’t ‘expect’ perfection; otherwise you will be constantly disappointed. 


Several basic principles apply to the establishment & maintenance of successful, sound relationships. These are:- 



  • Respect  


  • Communication  


  • Honesty  


  • Commitment  


  • Effort  


  • Responsibility  

"No marriage (or relationship) can be judged 'truly successful' unless husband & wife are each other's best critics"
M. Scott Peck



These principles apply to any relationship type, be it intimate, platonic, in business, sport or everyday life. 


In the intimate relationships you have with your wife/partner, it is paramount that you give 100%. Some assert that couples ‘meet halfway’ regarding issues & the relationship in general, implying 50% from each individual. This is fraught with possible danger as you or your partner is therefore ‘holding back’. It is certainly not consistent with ‘commitment’ or ‘honesty’. 


Troubles will occur if one commits 100% and the other only a portion of this. If this is you, do not be disheartened. Continue, persist & deliberately and purposefully give your all. You will ultimately succeed and you are certainly a better person for the effort put in. This does not apply to dysfunctional &/or abusive relationships however. 


In these types, there is the need for help & guidance. Both parties require (1) an acknowledgement that something is wrong, (2) a desire to address & rectify the problem & (3) involvement of professional assistance to facilitate this. The alternative is unfortunately removal from the situation & the relationship. 


Having said all this, there remains one (1) very important primary component to all relationships that must be attended to. That is the need to examine yourself; accept your frailties & idiosyncrasies, acknowledge your strengths etc. Self examination and ‘self-critiquing’ combined with the intention of ‘self improvement’ in all areas of your life, will ultimately enhance the likelihood of establishing & maintaining successful, healthy relationships. 







Of course, no matter how diligently you apply yourself to your relationship, depression & other mental illnesses will impact drastically on your capacity to achieve your goals. As part of your personal self examination, you must acknowledge any mental health issues you may be experiencing address these and seek help if necessary. 


To sum up this section, let us detail in point form the steps, processes & specifics required for the successful relationship. 



(1)         Look at yourself. Be honest in your assessment of your behaviours, beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, feelings & emotions. 


(2)         Be careful not to assess or judge your partner. They need to make their own personal appraisal of themselves and generally by themselves. By all means encourage them to do so, don’t tell them. Concentrate on your own thoughts & behaviours. 


(3)         Prioritise your life and those with whom you are connected in relationships. 


(4)         Give 100% to your partner. Commit to them and adhere to the basic principles Respect, Honesty, Commitment, Communication, Effort, and Responsibility. 


(5)         If your relationship is dysfunctional, ensure both you & your partner is committed to acknowledging a problem, wanting to rid yourselves of the problem and seek help in order that you may achieve this. 


(6)         Accept that nothing is perfect and there will be times where difficulties are experienced. Learn through these difficult times & take them as an opportunity to grow and mature, no matter how old you are. 


(7)         If you believe you have any mental health issues that impact on you or that are affecting your relationship such as ‘depression’, address these &/or seek help. 

'Ay me! for aught that I could ever read, Could ever hear by tale or history, The course of true love never did run smooth'.
William Shakespeare






The following video clip is intended for humour only. It, by no means is instructional; but it's a 'hell of a good laugh'. Parents &/or those under 18 years be advised that the content is of an adult type with frequent foul language.




Chris Rock 





©2008 Waldel Pty Ltd

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