This is for:
those of you who have been the targets of hatred, criticism, gossip and negativity based on your gender, appearance, race, genetics, sexual orientation, country of origin or religion;
those of you who have been found guilty of doping in the past and were then cleared to compete;
those of you whose accomplishments may get clouded by media focus on other people’s opinions about whether you should compete or not.
Here is my advice:
- Celebrate the fact that you are where you are. Most of us applaud and are in awe of your focus, hard work, dedication to your sport and your accomplishments. In addition to our appreciation for what you give us as viewers we know you are multidimensional people with feelings, lives, families and dreams. We see your humanity and applaud your hard work which has led to this excellence in sport. We understand that most of you have sacrificed some of the pleasures that many of us enjoy by being committed to an intense training schedule for years and years. Stay focused and keep moving forward no matter what.
- Champions in sport and life are built from consistently being able to get up, dust themselves off and keep trudging ahead – focus on your perseverance and endurance but also surround yourselves with communities or even a handful of people you trust who have your back, bring you joy, understand you and remind you to keep moving forward. You can trust them to support you while still being honest about what they think. These people have your best interests at heart.
- Most people who are overly critical, unforgiving or negative have their own baggage and unhappiness and you are a good dumping ground for them. It has nothing to do with you. These people could be focusing on their own goals and achieving them, or figuring out why they are so unhappy and how to remedy that. Hopefully some day they will be able to celebrate other people’s accomplishments or at least know that if they have nothing useful and constructive to contribute, their contributions (including boos and name-calling) are best kept to themselves. If you have made mistakes in the past and have the courage to choose differently and show up on the world stage again – more power to you. We don’t know you personally and don’t know what your decision making process was in the past. We have forgiveness and have all made mistakes or poor choices in our lives, so again, keep moving forward with as much integrity as possible.
- Learn and practice the art of ignoring, having humor, staying focused on what actually is important in life, letting of steam constructively and staying grounded. You can have feelings and reactions; you are not expected to be perfect. And remember you wouldn’t be where you are today if you didn’t have the grit, spirit or will to overcome difficulties. If you need more help in this area, reach out to folks who’ll support you.
- In the meantime – enjoy, celebrate, refocus, and remember there is more to you and more to life than your sports performance or other’s opinions of you.
Thank you for inspiring us, entertaining us and giving us cause to reflect on the amazing capacity that we all have to transcend physical, mental and emotional limits, borders and boundaries.
Dr. Cory Nyamora is an endurance sports coach with certifications from USAT and USATF, a licensed clinical psychologist, and the founder of Endurance – A Sports & Psychology Center, Inc. He provides endurance coaching for beginner and experienced athletes, as well as psychotherapy services to children, adults, and families.
Find out more at runinkenya.com and endurancecenter.org or call 510.981.1471.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Nyamora, please contact 510.981.1471