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Sport Identity

By Nicki Cartwright | In Blog | on October 15, 2014

Here is one, let me know your thoughts:

Sport identity

Most of us spend our lives trying to figure out “who” we are. We tend to define ourselves based on our activities and occupations. There is a sense of pride and what’s more, power, associated with a title.

“Football player”

Unfortunately, letting our activities and sports define who we are can be very dangerous. It is easy to become so engrained in the title we so desperately want the world to contribute us to.

However, what happens when you suffer an injury so debilitating that you must abandon your current title? How do you mentally cope with “finding” yourself again and worse, “redefining” yourself?

In a relatively short time I have been exposed to powerlifting. I have seen “elite” lifters time and time again get so wrapped up in their image that they lose focus of the integrity of the sport– turning it into a business venture and profit, taking advantage of others. So quickly someone can be at the top of their game and with one wrong move, pop off muscles or blow an entire joint and with that, watch their numbers trail off into an abyss. Many give up. Many feel that they would rather retire than keep trying because all they might have been known for was their utmost condition and lifting ability. These same individuals are afraid to show themselves vulnerable. Those who keep trying, keep pushing past injuries for the sake of lifting, are the ones who are in it for the right reasons.

Here’s the key:

Never lose sight of — YOU.

I’m not talking about the records or titles you have, the lifter status on powerlifting watch, the body fat percentage you once attained. I’m talking about the integrity and heart that is the bases of your spirit.

It is critical to distinguish between the things you DO and the things that MAKE you. For if not, you will find yourself forever unhappy and searching.

I began competing in figure competitions in 2008. I was a lost individual, running away from personal struggles and delving myself into competitions that left my body beyond fatigued that I had no energy to deal with my internal struggles. Yet after each show, the issues were still there– low self esteem, low confidence, resentment towards life and the hardships I faced all due to my own lack of self worth. I competed to “prove” to those who doubted my ability that I could belong. I did not gain any empowerment. The more I competed and adopted the title of “figure competitor”, the more pressure I had to keep competing. What’s more, I felt the pressure to keep my body in such an unrealistic and non-maintainable condition year round. If I was not close to stage condition, I would not want to be social–I would not be seen in any outfit so much as showing my arms. Once one show was done, I would be left thinking “what now?” I became a slave to my title. I correlated being fit to getting on stage. My every workout was dictated by what aesthetic changes I had to make–not getting stronger, not becoming healthier or more fit in the ability sense.

I began competing to “find” myself. I began competing to “prove” myself, and to whom? In the grand scheme of things, the people that matter in your life don’t care what you do, they just want you healthy and happy.

Everything you do in life is a choice. It might not feel like it always, but it is. What’s more, you must always know what you wish to gain out of every sport. Those who compete in powerlifting, bodybuilding, marathons, MMA, etc. need to do it for themselves first and foremost, and need to keep this in check.

Here are some tips:

1. Go out once a week and do something totally unrelated to your current sport.

2. Dress up! Get out of your gym clothes, put on some jeans (oh no!) and take a good look at yourself in the mirror. See yourself in another light.

3. Get involved in charities and charity events. Use your talents and blessings to help those in need. Giving back humbles you and provides meaning and a greater perspective on life and the gifts we take for granted.

4. Honor yourself and accept your talents and setbacks. This will help set realistic and gratifying goals.

5. Think about what thoughts, opinions and morals make you, YOU.

6. Jot down the reasons why you do what you do — your job, your sport, etc.

These are just a few tips that can help shed light on the difference between what you do and who you are.

Honoring your feelings is the key to healing emotionally and physically. By realizing you have many gifts, interests, talents and aspirations in life, you can embrace any challenges life throws at you, and know when it is time to move on and change direction on a given goal. argument essay writing

Nicki Crapotta