This three-part blog post is in praise of Australian football and saying thanks.
1. Responding to Compliments with Thanks.
Once upon a time I played a good game of footy. I was playing for my employer at the time, Dairy Vale, in a social match against dairy industry rival Golden North in Clare. My workmate and old school friend John Nolan was our ruckman – he was great at it. John spent all day tapping the ball down to the spot that I was running into. Consequently, I had the ball on the run a lot, which allowed me the time and space to amass a heap of kicks. I even kicked a goal on the run from a centre clearance. It’s the best game of footy I’ve ever played.
The game ended. Dairy Vale had won. The teams were walking off the ground. A friend (Michael Forde) approached and said something like, “Good game Mac. B.O.G.” I brushed the comment off. Nobody likes a bragger. Unexpectedly, Michael responded with a bit of irritation in his voice, saying something like, “When somebody gives you a compliment it’s good manners to say ‘thank you’.” I was a bit taken aback, and responded eloquently, “Umm. Yeah. Umm. Right. Sorry. Umm. Thanks.”
Anyway, Michael was right of course. To him it might have been a throw-away comment on a footy oval. To me it was a valuable life lesson. We were both about 20 years old at the time. I don’t know how Michael was so wise at that age, but it was something I remembered and practiced. Saying, ‘thank you’ to compliments, that is.
2. Self Esteem
Fast-forward 10+ years after playing that game of footy, and I have started work as a mental health nurse. At Glenside Hospital senior nursing staff encouraged junior nursing staff (as I was at the time) to facilitate group discussions and activities. I was asked to facilitate a group about self esteem. It went really well.
I told the John Nolan/Michael Forde story. Then we practiced giving and accepting compliments. Of course, saying ‘thank you’ is just the start; especially if you actually feel really shitty about yourself. So we started slow with shallow superficial stuff (haircuts, tans, shirts etc). That served as a practice run for more meaningful compliments. We took turns saying, “One of the things I really like/admire about you is…”, with the person receiving the compliment practicing saying ‘thank you’ without adding a disclaimer or self-depreciating comment. That can be really hard for some of us. Not everyone has accumulated the habit of saying ‘thanks’ as a way to acknowledge and accept a compliment.
We finished the session with our group of 2 mental health nurses and about 10 inpatient mental health consumers going out to the Glenside Hospital football oval (it used to be about here, I think). While there we learned and practiced a skill that none of us felt at all confident in: kicking a checkside goal. It took us all quite a few goes to get it right, but all of us in the group eventually kicked three checkside goals (three to prove that the first one wasn’t a fluke). We left the oval as happy, chatty, cohesive and confident as any winning sport team. It was a great session.
3. Giving Thanks.
In my current role I don’t do group work, but I still speak to people about their self-esteem, and occasionally find myself trotting-out the John Nolan/Michael Forde story. In mental health nurse parlance sharing life experience/stories like this is called ‘therapeutic use of self’. Even though I haven’t seen Michael or John for over 20 years, they’re part of my story, part of my self. I’m very grateful for my family and friends, past and present.
The other thing is the Adelaide Crows won the AFLW Grand Final today! They played a fantastic brand of team football in front of 53,034 people. It was a terrific, well-deserved win. Back in 2012 when the meta4RN blog started, in the About section I claimed that the blog would comment on how watching Adelaide play in the AFL can inform nursing clinical practice. The Adelaide Crow’s Grand Final winning Registered Nurse Deni Varnhagen has done a better job of telling that story than me:
”Nursing and football: they are very similar in the way that they’re team-based. You have to work well within a team, have good communication. There’s a lot of banter, which is always fun.” @DeniVarnhagen_9 #WeNurses #OzNurses #WeFlyAsOnehttps://t.co/Ons01msEqZ
— Paul McNamara (@meta4RN) March 6, 2018
— Paul McNamara (@meta4RN) September 29, 2017
Sincere congratulations to Deni and all the other Adelaide AFLW players. You’re a terrific team to watch, and have bought many people a lot of joy in the 2019 AFLW season. Thanks!
That’s it. As always please feel free to use the comments section below.
Paul McNamara, 31 March 2019
Short URL meta4RN.com/thanks