Are you consuming more time on thinking how good you can be or how bad you were? Are you spending more time on comparing yourself to others and feeling down because of comparison or can you see others’ success as something empowering to you? Are you using your time trying to find the connection between your mind and body or are you treating your body more or less like a tool to get what you want?
I and many more athletes have struggled to find values in sport, what sports really represents in our lives besides “testing my limits” or “having fun”, find reason and courage to be authentic. Struggles to really find self-worth and build self-esteem which then causes us to experience things as threats and hindering vs. seeing them as empowering.
Self-doubt in sports is so common. It is very understandable when everything athletes do is measured by numbers and put into some kind of rating. It is hard not to get too attached to results.
Let’s start fixing this. I want you to be able to live a life in sports where self-doubt is not hindering you but you can achieve better results with more confidence. So, let’s dive into three common mistakes that I have come across so often and see what we could do about them.
VALUES IN SPORTS:
KNOW YOU ARE ENOUGH
You come home from a competition, you feel like you did pretty ok today and decide to take a look at the stats. You look at the numbers and suddenly start feeling more low about your performance today. You start questioning if you did that ok after all. This number, that number should be higher. You should be performing better than this. You go to sleep disappointed.
Weighing and body fat percentage measure day. You have already eaten less in the morning, maybe skipped breakfast. Maybe reduced eating and drinking already last night or last week because you knew today is going to be a test day. You see the numbers on the scale and your body fat percentage on the screen. If the numbers are not where you wish them to be, you feel bad right away. You go down to self-blame and shame road. “How can I be this big? I should be an athlete, not a meatball…” You feel unworthy, disappointed.
You get an offer for next season. You see the numbers and you know about what your teammates or opponents or friends are getting. This number is not enough for your value. You feel shitty, maybe little angry. “I am worth more than this! This isn’t right. I have worked more than this.” You might feel offended, undervalued and underappreciated.
What are the common denominators in the last three little stories?
It is all about the numbers.
Your value is somewhere on the background, forgotten.
And you let numbers rule your mood and bring you down in some way.
If any of those stories ring true to you, you might attach more value to the numbers that you should.
Why you would not trust the feeling of how the competition went today? Why would you need validation from paper? Where, for who, do you need it for? Learning from numbers is different than trying to find proof from the stats that you are “good enough”.
In the second story, the numbers on the scale and how much fat mass you have in your body are just that. Numbers on the scale. A number that estimated the fat mass on your body. But you? Your value? Not numeric. Not measurable. Don’t mix your being with numbers and think that there is a magic number that tells you that now you are good enough.
Third story was about the offer you got. Numbers on a piece of paper that was delivered by an agent or club to you. So crazy many contributors to that number that might not have nothing to do with you. The sum that is offered to you and for your performance is again different than your existence’s value. If you go down that road and always think you are worth more, nothing will satisfy you. You will always want more. You will never feel good enough for long enough.
So, let’s keep numbers for learning purposes where they are extremely useful but separate that you as a human being are just one uniquely amazing ball that does not need numbers to feel “good enough”.
COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS:
KNOW YOUR PROCESS
You practice with determination and you want to take that next step. You want to succeed. You see a teammate or an opponent doing great, getting praised while you are also doing pretty good today and little jealousy spikes inside you. Why she/he/they is doing that great? Why no one notices me?What is she/he/they doing differently than you are? You are putting a lot of time and energy to practice as well but you don’t get the same kind of encouragement and praise as he/she/they is. You feel unworthy, undervalued and underappreciated, maybe even bitter.
You watch some of the greatest people in your sport and think that I want to be there! But then… The self-doubt creeps in… I will never be that good, why am I even dreaming about that? I don’t have long arms, that sixpack, big sponsors or elite level coaching or whatever. You suffocate that desire to be freaking awesome. Maybe it is lucid to be doing this if I never will reach that level. You feel a little stupid, insufficient, insecure.
Self-doubt and comparison can kill your performance. And this is not only sports world where it happens. The world is full of people who will be better at something than you, will have bigger contracts, more resources, better coaching and more talent than you.
What why would I say that? Now you are putting us all down telling that other people are better than us!
I am saying this because it is damn freeing to acknowledge and realize that there are always people who might be so much better at something than you but it does not mean that you would be bad at it or that you could not be better at something else than that person. We cannot beat everyone in everything.
We cannot let that get to us that if some people are more successful, talented, resourceful than us, and make it mean the same as we would not be good enough, or we never will get past mediocre performances, my friend..
If we let others’ greatness put us down, it will kill the best of our game and that should not be the case. Flip the perspective and see the chance in their success, if they could do it, why not you?
Self-doubt and comparison can definitely kill the best edge in so so many athletes and they might never reach higher because of that. And who of you want to do sports because you want to stay mediocre?
I don’t see any hands raising.
Self-doubt is insidious. It holds you back. It doesn’t let you celebrate others’ successes. It does not see opponent’s success as something that could encourage you that you are very close to that level too. It does not let you fully manifest your dreams.
Comparison is like lighting a match in a room full of gas. Super dangerous and most of the time, does not lead to great results and it is almost impossible to control if your match has self-doubt.
So, focus on the process you are in and why it matters to you. You might achieve the same things than the people you look up to but only if you learn to quiet that self-doubt and focus on the quality of your training that truly develops you to get there.
Side note: If you are one of the athletes who gets frustrated but is ready to ditch that and turn frustration into focus and fire that will bring more results, check this free workbook out. It is a five step plan how to solve a majority of the issues before setting your foot onto the gym 👇🏼
BODY AS A TOOL:
FIND YOUR MIND TO BODY CONNECTION
You treat your body as something that does things for you. It is your tool to access success or things you desire. So you train. You train a lot. You push through. You want to get better and it does not come easy. Maybe your body tries to tell you that it is hurt. But you learn or have learned to quiet down the noise. You are stronger than this. You want to succeed, so you keep going. Your body aches but you feel like that is part of the project.
Or second scenario. Maybe you see your body as something that needs to be trained because you don’t simply like how it looks. Maybe sports and training are something you use when you want to almost punish yourself because what you ate previously. Maybe training is your way trying to make you like yourself more. “If only my body would be like hers, I would be happier and more successful”. Maybe you think that if you would have or achieve that body, you could be proud of yourself and you would like yourself more.
Your body is your working tool in sports, that is true. But it does not work without your brain. It does not work nearly as good as it could if it would be connected with your mind.
Your brain is tuned to listen to it, that is the skill we born with. Then we learn somewhere on the way to switch it off especially if our thoughts are linked to the negative aspects of the body and we want to disconnect from it, thinking that is the solution to feel better. You start treating your body as a means to an end. As if it is something separate.
But the thing is… It should be other way round.
The more you want to succeed and get better, the better it will be if you can combine your mind with your body and utilize the whole package you have been given. The whole you. Imagine the difference in your performance if you can utilize all you have been given… Use all of the cells and senses instead of treating body like a mechanical tool.
That’s where the next level will wait for you.
THE NEXT STEP:
HOW TO FIND YOURSELF AS A PERSON
“Not good enough”. That feeling won’t be solved by getting attached to numbers, to comparison, to your body.
It is a feeling. It is a thought.
If you would get perfect stats in one match. If you would hit your target weight. If you would get a million dollar contract. If you would practice more than ever. If you beat your main opponent.
Even with all of those, you would not feel satisfied and worthy for long. There is a next thing to be wanted and the same unworthy feeling and thoughts with self-doubt will find its way back to your mind.
More perfect stats. Better body fat percentage. 1,1 million contract.
If you want to the next level, friend. Fix your inside.
You will be incredibly powerful if you don’t have anything to prove. You don’t need to get to the next level to find approval. You can get to the next level because you feel that that is exactly what you want to do. You don’t do it because you think that level will give you approval and praise that would fix your feelings of unworthiness. Instead, you just simply want to see how good you can be.
So I encourage all athletes to take a look at what you want to achieve and why?
Also, what are the things and matters that bring you down? What is the fear behind them? What is it telling you, what you fear the most? Flip it and you likely will discover what you want the most.
What are your most natural ways of doing things? When do you feel like home? When do you feel most comfortable? When the most alive?
What role are numbers playing in your life? Can you treat them objectively, something that might help you develop but is not equivalent to your value?
Am I sounding like a preacher here? Sorry about that. NO, I take that back. I am not sorry that I want you and many other athletes to feel better and get better.
I know that once we take a look at what hurts us and solve that even partially, the power we can release inside is the thing that takes us further in a more sustainable way. The number game, self-blame, self-doubt – those things are not sustainable in the long run. I can guarantee that, they will wear anyone out eventually.
It is likely and perfectly ok to lose yourself and your joy somewhere on the way when everything you do is measured or evaluated and we just really want to be or become better and wish to find approval. The search for approval should be directed towards ourselves more than others, no amount of approval from others is enough if you haven’t found and realized your own value, your own approval.
So getting lost in this competitive jungle is understandable but in order to thrive in the jungle again, we need to find the tools that help us. We want to find the path that takes us where we want to go. Other people might be able to give us a map. Which might work. But the map needs to fit you. If it doesn’t, we need to be brave enough to make our own path.
You need to see that map taking you somewhere valuable in a way that is aligned with you.
If you need help with the process to find out more about yourself and your natural strengths, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s evaluate together if Sports Capacity Assessment could be a useful thing for your next step. No pressure on buying, just a check where you are, where you are going, and IF it would help you moving forward.
Thank you for reading ❤️
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