Dealing with Injury
You’ve been training hard with a goal in mind, pushing yourself on all fronts—mind, body and soul. The unimaginable happens: injury strikes. Injury is one of the most devastating and difficult factors for any athlete to encounter. Not only does it affect your physical performance, it alters your emotional and mental state too; the change in your physical ability has the potential to impact all facets of your life.
First, you find yourself dealing with a level of pain that you’re not acquainted with. Second, multiple avenues must be explored to strengthen your body and help you to return to optimal performance. Appointments, endless questions, and the search for answers becomes a mental drain, on top of dealing with the injury that’s creating excruciating physical pain. If progress is limited, disappointment and discouragement can set in; the mind becomes plagued with negative thoughts and lies about your identity and self worth being snatched by an injury. The downward spiral is initiated; depression, pain, a sense of worthlessness starts to define you.
How do you take what seems like a negative circumstance and create something positive out of it? How do you face the days of healing and recovery with a mindset that will help you to overcome? You can learn to be a conqueror in the midst of your suffering. Consider the following things in the midst of your injury:
Remember: You’re more than your injury; you’re more than your sport. Being a dedicated athlete can easily consume your identity. It’s important to remember that your identity lies in more than your athletic performance. What are the other things in life that you love? Who are the people that love and support you? What are the truths that you believe in? What are the elements that uniquely define you? Being a strong and healthy athlete means you have more outside of your sport. A sense of wholeness within oneself will produce greater abilities in sport. Fight the slippery slope of believing you’re less because of your injury by practicing the tool of remembrance.
Reflect: What are some of the strategies in life you’ve learned in sport that can help you in recovery today? Throughout your training, you’ve grown as an athlete and as you look back, there were ways you made strides ahead. How did you do this in the past? What can you apply to your situation today?
Redirect: It’s easy to get stuck in the vicious circle of negative thinking: “I’m never going to get better”…“I will never be as good an athlete as I was before my injury”… “I’m not seeing any improvement!” Redirect your negative thinking to avoid the pitfall of the vicious circle. Your thoughts affect your feelings and your actions! Change the meaning in your thinking and you’ll see an improvement in your feelings and actions. “I will never be as good an athlete as I was before my injury” could be redirected to “because of my injury, I’m developing new muscle groups, mental perseverance, and a resiliency I may have never known had I not experienced an injury.” You’re always more, not less. Redirect your thinking to a place of “more” and your feelings and actions will align as well.
–Ashley Sherbino, Community Education Facilitator, CMHA Kelowna