by Bianca Senker
The Pantheon Games are only two weeks away and I’m beginning to get really nervous about my first CrossFit Competion. I’m addicted to CrossFit and am used to my nerves getting the best of me before any WOD I do, but this is a novel endeavor and feels more competitive and challenging than a typical training session at the gym. The good thing is that I’m part of a team of dedicated, strong, bright and energetic gals who inspire and motivate success through words, actions, drive and commitment. As part of our journey, we were given topics to blog about and I was given “Self-Esteem and Confidence.”
Self-Esteem is overrated
It’s all about Self Compassion if you want to feel Confident and Successful
As a special educator for students with varying exceptionalities, a coach for teachers, as well as a CrossFit athlete and coach, I understand how challenging it is to master new skills and achieve academic, athletic, performance and personal life goals. Building confidence and self worth at any given age, in any given practice, is no easy task and requires several components in order to achieve and maintain a positive sense of self.
In life, feeling happy and accomplished is always easier when you are on top – when you score that winning buzzer-beater swish, when you PR (personal record) a sprint, power or olympic lift, when you ace a paper or master a complex yoga series. Your self esteem, confidence in your own merit as an individual, soars because you have achieved something fantastic. But the question becomes, how do you cope in the daily when the going gets tough? When you miss that final shot and you know your team was depending on those last two points or when you’re stagnant with your lifting and haven’t mastered a specific movement you have dedicated time towards achieving and feel like you’ve hit a concrete wall? Or when something you have worked on for so long didn’t turn out quite as well as you had hoped or expected? How does your self-esteem withstand those moments? How do you perceive yourself during frustrating, disappointing and failing moments? Do you criticize yourself for your performance, hyper-analyze each mistake or feel discouraged or depressed? Do you compare yourself to others, wishing you had their strength or charm? Everyone has an innate desire to succeed and feel special in life. Although we may excel at specifics tasks or thrive in certain fields, there’s always someone who performs better than you do in something. There’s always someone who will be stronger, dresses better or is prettier. So, how do you boost self-esteem then, when you’re not feeling quite on top? How do you sustain happiness, remain confident and feel good about yourself even when you feel down in the dumps? Many people automatically assume that having a high self esteem equates to feeling confident and secure in your skin or with your performance, but I believe that possessing the quality of self-compassion, is something deeper than self-esteem, and will ultimately help you believe in yourself and promote feelings of confidence and self worth that will remain steady overtime, through both your accomplishments and breakdowns.
In order to unlock true potential and feel confident, a person must demonstrate self-compassion, which according to Kristen Neff, PhD, entails three core elements: Self Kindness, Common Humanity, and Mindfulness.
Self Kindness: I find that it’s always so much easier to support a friend who is down, feeling distressed by a decline in performance or showing inadequate development with a specific skill. With CrossFit, it’s natural for woman to remind a friend who missed a PR during her snatch training today, that her work was just as meaningful and solid, despite that last, missed lift; that there’s always tomorrow and in the next few weeks, her lift will be achieved and new goals will be devised, but when you are aiming for that same lift, and fail, you may react negatively and feel discouraged. Where’s that self kindness for your awesome efforts trying to strengthen mechanics and technique with several other loaded lifts? You’re going to beat yourself over the head and negate all your hard effort, when you just recognized and applauded your best friend? Hey, do yourself a favor and be confident and motivate yourself with the same type of kindness, compassion, patience, and support you would treat a spouse, a family member, a friend or even a stranger who needed some uplifting and positive encouragement. Recognize that all the work leading up to your personal goals and achievements are just as amazing, as that one PR lift. Take time to understand yourself, rather than being harsh or critical, just like you would with others and stay focused on your goals, even when setbacks occur.
Common humanity: There’s nothing like feeling connected to others. Having a strong family, network of friends, teachers and coaches who believe in you, and who you can count on through good times and bad, is a blessing. Rather than feeling isolated, or trying to achieve something on your own, building that sense of interconnectedness, helps you stay strong, confident and capable because no matter what, you know you are always loved, supported and connected despite the outcome of your aspiration. Being proud of your friends’ accomplishments and supportive of their endeavors build strength and camaraderie. Yet even with that gushing support, commitment and praise from pals, note that self-esteem and self-worth will still escape you if you don’t esteem yourself.
Mindfulness: My favorite and probably, the most challenging. Showcasing balanced awareness of both positive and negative experiences without ignoring pain or exaggerating moments. Being able to express failures or admit your weaknesses, as easily as sharing successes, without being embarrassed or pessimistic, will help you recognize the areas you need to improve in order to attain your goals and motivate you to work harder to achieve them. I’m surrounded by stronger, faster athletes every time my body gets jittery before a workout. When that clock ticks away, I focus on trying to do the best that I could do, in the fastest and safest way possible, given my strengths and limitations. I do my best not to compare myself to others, work on strengthening my strengths, develop my weaknesses and laugh knowing that there will always be something I will be working on to achieve, which is a good thing. Keeps things interesting and a reminder that no one is perfect.
The bottom line and the secret to feeling confident and having a positive self worth is to think positive thoughts, stay optimistic - even when the going gets tough, show self kindness and patience, and visualize those end results you want to attain. Eliminate self judgment and never waste energy comparing yourself to anyone. Work on improving yourself for you, not for anyone else, and feel awesome knowing that you are dedicated, relentless, passionate, and not always perfect. Surround yourself with the people who make you feel good, live positively and seek the good in every situation. Recognize and acknowledge your strengths and weakness, and refrain from being negative or envious of others. At the end of the day, there’s no one that will be able to make you truly happy except you. Surrounding yourself with an encouraging support network is surely uplifting and will make you ease any temporary doubt or insecurity, but being able to nurture yourself and show self-compassion when you are feeling discouraged or inadequate is a powerful way to learn from your mistakes, achieve pure confidence, contentment and emotional well being no matter what life throws your way.