It was 9:30 p.m. on July 3, 2014 when Keith, a college teammate, called, texted, and emailed. All three messages said the same thing.

“Call me now!”

Despite our infrequent contact, I still consider my college teammates my friends and look forward to connecting with them. However, my conversation with Keith would be unlike any we had ever had. When I called him, the first words out of his mouth were:

“Bus died today.”


It is a year later, and tears still come at the thought of my friend.

FullSizeRenderDespite being a year younger, Bus (Craig was his first name) was my best friend on the team. We were cut from the same mold–ultra-competitive and driven to excel on the court while struggling psychologically and socially off the court. Although we never shared our off-the-court struggles, we had an intuitive understanding of each other. I always knew Bus had my back and I had his, both on and off the court.

For years, the game of basketball was our life and identity; it was our drug of choice and helped us cope with uncomfortable and unwanted feelings–until our playing careers ended. Upon graduation, we were both lost and searching for new outlets to deal with our feelings and emotions.

Over the years, Bus and I lost touch, but I learned at his funeral that Bus took his addiction in one direction, and I took mine in another. Although I think of my friend with great sadness, I firmly believe that he would be here with us today if he had understood the thought-feeling connection.WeddingPic

We believed a catastrophic lie.

We believed our feelings came from our circumstances.

 They don’t.

I didn’t feel good about myself and thought if I played a great game or married my college sweetheart or had kids or made a lot of money or attended the popular parties, then I would finally feel better. Of course, I felt some temporary relief after my “achievements,” but those feelings never lasted. I continued searching for my next fix to deal with my internal torment. I didn’t understand how our mental system works; in fact, most of the world doesn’t.

The world needs to understand:

The source of 100 percent of our feelings is our moment-to-moment thinking.

As our thinking changes, and it always will, so do our feelings. Our feelings are not contingent on circumstances. You don’t always feel the same way when facing the identical situation. I don’t always get angry when someone cuts me off while driving on the highway. My clients don’t always slam their clubs when they hit a wayward golf shot or get angry when their spouse gives them the “dirty” look. They don’t always want to quit their sport when losing a match or become overly anxious before every game. They experience the same circumstances, yet their feelings and subsequent actions vary. Why?

The source of 100 percent of our feelings is our moment-to-moment thinking.

Our problems are the result of a misunderstanding. We have been conditioned to look in the wrong direction and attribute our anxiety, anger, indecision, doubt, and insecurity to our circumstances.

Now you have a choice. Look inside.

Yes, misunderstanding can lead to death.

Rest in peace #42. You are missed and loved by many.