By PowerPlay Athlete Jessica Meyers
I have sat and thought about what the biggest obstacle is for an elite athlete. And the reality is it’s probably not much different than your everyday athlete. I believe everyone has obstacles and difficulties in their life. There are times when I sit there and think “Boy I’m glad I’m not that guy!” but then I realize someone is probably saying the same about me. And we all have heard the saying, “What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.” I think this is true if we allow ourselves to make it true. I think some people go through tough times, and they start to believe their inner dialogue and give up. “I’m never going to be as good as I was before this.” “I should just quit.” “My life is ruined.” This is hardly the voice of someone stronger, but rather someone having a hard time accepting their new reality. I believe we are all guilty of it, including the strongest people we know. Who hasn’t had things go their way and just want to lie in bed and throw a pity party? Or eat a gallon of ice cream and watch endless, mindless TV? Last year when I was injured I really began to believe I should just quit…”I’m getting old, I’m getting out of shape, I’ll never measure up again.” And luckily I had a few people that refuted these words with positive talk, “You will get through this. You will still be competitive. Control what you can control—get your booty in the pool and on the bike!” Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of “feel sorry for me” moments, but each day I woke up and tried to be a little better than the day before. And that started with my attitude. The fact is it isn’t the end of the world; there are people that still rely on me that I can’t just quit life because I was dealt a bad hand, and to focus my energy on things that are actually productive. Do those projects I can’t get around to normally because I don’t have time. Enjoy taking some rest because normally I don’t have time. Have a cup of coffee or glass of wine with a friend. Use this as an opportunity rather than a catastrophe!
I believe this not only true in sports, but in life. Everyone, everyone will go through difficulty. That in itself is a fact of life! The hard part is having the internal dialogue to have a positive outcome. In 2012 I was going through a great deal of personal pain and my coach wrote something that he paraphrased from a book “The Four Agreements,” and I’ll often go back and read it to remind myself. He wrote “Be impeccable in your word — never go against yourself. Take responsibility for your actions but do not judge or blame yourself. Have integrity, honesty and be consistent. Your word is the power you have to create. What you feel and what you really are will be shaped by your word — your language. It creates all events in your life.” I took from this to be kind to myself, to talk to myself in a respectful way. If you constantly tell yourself that you’re not good enough, you failed, you aren’t worthy…then guess what? You’ll believe it! It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy! In my last blog I wrote about the first big race I ever “almost “ won. When I got to the lead I thought, “What am I doing? Do I belong here? These other girls are so good. Wait, I’m not sure if I’m worthy of being in the lead.” What a load of bull. I lost that race because I didn’t think I deserved to win. I look back at that 24 year old girl and I want to slap her. Now when I get to start line I change my thoughts to, “I belong. I am good enough. I work hard; I train hard…I BELIEVE!!” The biggest obstacle for athletes, elite and recreational, is ourselves! And the biggest obstacle for people in general is ourselves! Our thoughts, our words, are so incredibly powerful. Why not change them into something positive? It doesn’t have to be as dorky as Stuart Smalley on SNL…”I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it people like me.” It can start by merely recognizing negative talk as soon as it creeps in, and choosing not to believe it! Replace it with something that is productive, that doesn’t continue to sabotage your situation. “Man, I really sucked at that race. I trained so hard and I failed. I’m a failure.” How about, “I didn’t do as well as I hoped, but I learned a lot that I’m going to apply to the next race, and I’m going to nail it when it comes time.” And then you carry on…with whatever it is, you carry on with life!