As we begin to see more and more top-level athletes like Michael Phelps, Naomi Osaka, and Simone Biles stand up for their own mental health. We’re also witnessing a huge disparity between the compassion that these athletes are showing for themselves versus the compassion that a portion of the general public is unwilling to show for the athletes.
Having compassion for ourselves as elite athletes is absolutely crucial for improving our performance and maintaining the growth we are able to achieve. Compassion is what allows athletes to see their progress and learn from their experiences even when the outcome is not a successful one.
It also allows them to have grace when they are put in situations where they don’t succeed or know that can’t perform at their best. We’re presented with scenarios like this all of the time…when I come to think of it, as an athlete I found myself in way more situations where I had at least some aspect of the performance that I didn’t succeed in compared to situations that were out-of-the-park successes.
But it wasn’t until I learned to practice some self-compassion for those mini ‘failures’ within the greater outcome, that I was able to actually learn anything from them.
Our automatic reaction is often to judge our shortcomings and judge ourselves for not being ‘perfect’ or ‘as good as we could have been’. But when we take this approach, we cut ourselves off from so much vital information about how we’re doing. And that is, simply put, an opportunity missed.
Where are you currently showing up with compassion for yourself and where are you not? Wherever you find that you’re unable to have that self-compassion, ask yourself why… and ask yourself if what you’re currently doing is helping you move forward.