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When Strengths Become Struggles with Basketball All-Star, Kevin Love
Episode 27th June 2022 • Emotionally Fit • Coa x Dr. Emily Anhalt
00:00:00 00:13:06

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What do we do when our greatest strengths turn on us and become our greatest weaknesses? Basketball All-Star Kevin Love knows a bit about that and talks with Dr. Emily Anhalt about how to turn it around in this emotional push-up!

Thank you for listening! Staying emotionally fit takes work and repetition. That's why the Emotionally Fit podcast with psychologist Dr. Emily Anhalt delivers short, actionable Emotional Push-Ups every Monday and Thursday to help you build a better practice of mental health. Join us to kickstart your emotional fitness. Let's flex those feels and do some reps together!

Follow Dr. Emily on Twitter, and don’t forget to follow, rate, review and share the show wherever you listen to podcasts! #EmotionallyFit 


The Emotionally Fit podcast is produced by Coa, your gym for mental health. Katie Sunku Wood is the show’s producer from StudioPod Media with additional editing and sound design by Nodalab, and featuring music by Milano. Special thanks to the entire Coa crew!

Transcripts

Emily Anhalt (:

Ready to break an emotional sweat? Welcome to Emotionally Fit with me, Dr. Emily Anhalt. As a therapist, I know that staying mentally healthy takes work and repetition. That's why I'll share emotional pushups, short, actionable exercises to help you strengthen your mental fitness. From improving your friendships to managing stress, let's flex those fields and do some reps together. Hey there, fit fans. I am so excited to be here today with the one, the only professional basketball player and mental health advocate, Kevin Love. Kevin, thank you so much for joining me for this pushup today.

Kevin Love (:

Dr. Emily, thanks for having me.

Emily Anhalt (:

So in your line of work, I imagine you do a huge number of actual physical pushups, but how often do you do emotional pushups?

Kevin Love (:

Well, emotional pushups, that concept actually I learned from you. So yeah, I would say quite often now, but prior to meeting the Coa team and being around you guys and understanding truly what that meant, I mean, in some ways I didn't even know if I was doing it or when I was doing it, but now definitely taking more time and actionable steps to get my mind right, understanding my triggers, understanding what works for me. But again, today, I think I'm ready to go through this. I certainly need it in a time of high stress. So I'm very grateful, very thankful to be here today, to get my mental health push up in, for sure.

Emily Anhalt (:

Hell yeah. I'm grateful too, to be doing this push up together. And what we're going to be talking about today is the idea that our strengths and our weaknesses are very often opposite sides of the exact same coin. The very things that help us succeed most in life can turn on us on a dime and cause really big problems. And conversely, the things we dislike about ourselves can also be a positive force in our lives if we're able to see that.

Emily Anhalt (:

So an example of this in my life is I have a tendency to want to have my cake and eat it too. I grew up with the mindset that if I want something badly enough, I can make it happen. And I just have to get creative and find a way. And this has been a really positive thing for me, for the most part, it's ensured that I'm always striving in my life and always looking for what's possible, but it can also be a big problem. Sometimes I can't have it all and I have trouble accepting that. And that's not always a good thing for me. So Kevin, I'm curious, what do you think just about this idea that our greatest strengths are also our greatest weaknesses and vice versa?

Kevin Love (:

Yeah, I think it's spot on. I see it a lot within my life and you see it in sports as well. I can speak to really what I've known and I've seen over and over again. I mentioned earlier an offline that scar issue are things that you think can work against you can often be a true gift and if you just change or shift your perspective or you have the willingness to work on it, you can be so much better for it. And you'd be really amazed at the outcome. And just in that little bit of a shift where you can end up at the end of the day. That is a really an interesting thing for me to think about. And I'm actually glad that we're doing this today, because I need it.

Emily Anhalt (:

Great. Well, that's a perfect launch into the actual pushup, which is going to be examining how our strengths can become our weaknesses and putting some shock absorbers into place. So Kevin, step one of this pushup is to think of one example of this in your life. One big strength you have, something that has made you who you are. It's helped you succeed. Maybe it's something you're really proud of, but you know deep down that can also be a problem.

Emily Anhalt (:

So for people out there, maybe it's that you work really hard, but also you get burnt out because you don't always take good enough care of yourself or maybe it's that you're a people pleaser. So you're really likable, but you also find yourself sacrificing what you need for others. And that's not always so awesome for you. So for those listening in, go ahead and pause here while you think of your example or keep listening to hear what Kevin's is. So Kevin, what example are you going to pick for this push up today?

Kevin Love (:

For me, it's actually on a very similar playing field and wavelength that you just said. And I think you find this in high achievers in general and for me it comes from a place of anxiety and feeling like an imposter. I put that dangling care just outside of what I consider success always, whether it be, I don't allow myself to reflect, I don't allow myself to be present. It's always being the man in the arena showing up in what's next.

Emily Anhalt (:

That is a great example.

Kevin Love (:

And I think that that anxiety has driven me into some really great things, but also hasn't allowed myself to look in the mirror and say, "Hey, you deserve compassion. You deserve a pat on the back, you deserve some credit." So it has been a driving force, yet I do think that it's given me sleepless nights. It's, in a lot of cases, heightened the anxiety it's generated a lot of output, but is burnout a place that I got to where that fuses so long, I just exploded when it got used up. There's a lot of push and pull within that space that I think could be a lot healthier.

Emily Anhalt (:

Well, that's a perfect lead to step two of the pushup, which is to think of where in your life this tends to be a strength and where in your life and can get in your way? And by that, I mean is there an inflection point, is there amount of doing it where it becomes a problem or is it there are certain places in your life where you do it and it becomes a problem? Are there situations? So for example, for me wanting to have my cake and eat it too, that works for me when it's motivating me to go after things that are possible, but it's really bad for me when it keeps me from accepting an uncomfortable reality of something not being possible. So that's sort of the inflection point for me. What would you say that is for you? In what areas of your life is this continuing to be a good thing and where, or at what point is this not so good?

Kevin Love (:

Well, I think it's kind of one and the same. I'm going to use the example again with basketball of what I know. If I'm so much focused on what the next thing is or just singularly focused and self-driven, then I forget about the greater good. I think it's great because what we do is performance based and all the work leading up to it and the stuff that people don't see is still coming from that place, but lost in that is the sacrifice and the willingness to do what's right for the next guy falling on the sword or playing for that next person.

Kevin Love (:

I think sometimes that's lost and always chasing. And for me, I think this year it's been a complete refresher of all that, that your intent is to continue to do better and to strive and to impact your family's life and your life in a positive way. But the impact of that on the other side can be what's lost within the scope of the team being a drain, not being a fountain.

Emily Anhalt (:

Would you say it's accurate to say that for you, the inflection point is when it starts to bring you away from people instead of toward people?

Kevin Love (:

Yes.

Emily Anhalt (:

Okay.

Kevin Love (:

A hundred percent. I've done this a million times, but you have blinders on and you can't see the impact that you have to others around you. You're going to look back and not wish you achieved more things, you're going to love the relationships that you fostered and the family that you created along the way.

Emily Anhalt (:

Yeah. Well, so it's really helpful to know where that can change course because the goal here is now you can start looking out for that inflection point. And with that, the third step of the pushup is to put some shock absorbers into place, to alert us when you've reached that point. So for me, this has been being very vocal about my tendency to want to have my cake needed to my therapist, to the people in my life. Like I said, if something's just not possible, that's how I know that I need to examine this. So I've actually told people in my life, "Hey, if you see me pushing really hard for something that you know is just not reasonable or possible, I want you to tell me, I want you to reflect that to me and let me know, 'Hey, I think you're doing that thing you told me about. You asked me to be honest with you. So that's what I'm doing.'"

Emily Anhalt (:

So that's the shock absorber I put into place is recruiting support. Another shock absorber might be checking in with more people about how they're feeling, or it might be that I practice sitting with disappointment so that when it's true that I can't have what I want, I already have the tool I need to deal with that reality. So these are some of the ones that I put into place for me. What do you think it might look like for you? And again, for those listening in, feel free to pause and think about this for yourself. Kevin, what kind of shock absorbers could you put into place to keep an eye on when your tendency to follow that carrot is actually leading you away from people instead of toward them?

Kevin Love (:

Yeah. So my shock absorber was actually one of the first things you said. I wrote it down was very vocal to my therapist. And I'm thankful because he's within the orbit of the team and getting out ahead of it, not being reactionary for me is so key. Always having these check-ins no matter how small. We've kind of laughed about it, my therapist and myself is like, "There doesn't have to be anything wrong in order for you to come to me or to come to therapy."

Emily Anhalt (:

A hundred percent.

Kevin Love (:

And so we continue to laugh about that. It's like we always talk about leadership building and perspective. How can I impact the team set little goals to try to find a way to get the most out of people. And it's like paying it forward for myself. I feel more comfortable out there on the floor because of that. My teammates trust me more because of that. And I can still get to exactly where I want to be if I give myself up. And I think that's been the beauty of that perspective change and also the growth in leadership and sacrifice.

Kevin Love (:

I always say that sacrifice gives up so much more than it costs. And I've been thankful to have to go through that and learn the hard way, getting traded to Cleveland in the 2014 off season, understanding what it meant to sacrifice for a championship team to now taking a step back as the six man on this team and giving myself up, but still allowing myself and therefore my teammates to still be a leader of this team. And it's a broad stroke of being vocal to my therapist. But like I said, getting out ahead of it, leadership building, perspective, sacrifice and what that means for the greater good of a team.

Emily Anhalt (:

Well, I love that because I think if you were to go to your therapist and say, "Hey, I'm realizing this thing about myself, which is sometimes I'm working so hard for the next thing that I actually end up less connected to people. So if you see that happening, would you let me know?" And now the therapist has this opportunity to be like, "Kevin, you're talking about this thing you really want, but you're also talking about how much less time you've been spending with the people you care about or how much less trust you're feeling with people. And I remember you saying this thing to me. So what do you think?" So to me, that's the beauty of this kind of self-awareness and recruiting support cycle that's meant to happen here. It sounds like that's the thing you might put into place. I love that.

Emily Anhalt (:

And also the converse of all of this is that when we're being hard on ourselves for having this "weakness," we can also remind ourselves that it is also a strength and that it serves an important purpose in our life. I learned through my therapy, that the things I want to change about myself don't necessarily need to be completely obliterated. I can just think about how to keep an eye on them and to see when they go from serving me to getting in my way. Kevin, how did it feel to do this push up today?

Kevin Love (:

I loved it. I already know what I'm going to put in my notes in my phone for my next session. So that actually is perfect. Very, very timely.

Emily Anhalt (:

Good. I'm glad. And it's always a pleasure with you. Thanks for flexing those feels and breaking an emotional sweat with me today. And for those of you who want to hear more from Kevin, good news, you can tune into our Taboo Tuesday, where we'll be talking about mental health and therapy in the world of sports. Thank you, Kevin, so much for being here today.

Kevin Love (:

Dr. Emily, thank you.

Emily Anhalt (:

Thanks for listening to Emotionally Fit, hosted by me, Dr. Emily Anhalt. New pushups drop every Monday and Thursday. Did you do today's pushup alongside me and my guest? Tweet your experience with the hashtag emotionally fit and follow me at Dr. Emily Anhalt. Please rate, review, follow, and share the show wherever you listen to podcasts. This podcast is produced by Coa your gym for mental health, where you can take live therapist led classes online. From group sessions to therapist matchmaking, Coa will help you build your emotional fitness routine. Head to join coa.com, that's join C-O-A.com to learn more and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @joinCoa. From Studio Pod Media in San Francisco, our producer is Katie Sunku Wood. Music is by Milano. Special thanks to the entire Coa crew.

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