Athlete Identity

Part 1 of the 5-part series about living the athlete life and getting out of it alive and sound, we’re focusing on the most common psychological and practical issues an athlete faces while active and after retirement from competition.

There is practice, games, competitions, physio, hospitals, specific diets, tight schedules, things you must and should do but also things you should avoid. It goes like this day in and day out for years, until it gets deep into you.

It is pretty rare to find an athlete who hasn’t built an image about themselves which is largely composed of all the experiences one lives while leading the life of the athlete. An identity is then being constructed, mostly unconsciously which evolves around all the do’s and don’ts.
You just live it out as it is. As you made it to be.
So, the role of the identity is the cornerstone thus many other issues arise from some kind of a blocking in the identity.

This is the most easy question to answer, while at the same time, the most difficult one.
The easy part is to provide the definition of how one’s identity plays a key role for keeping mental balance.
The strongest need of a human is to stay consistent with how they identify themselves.
Pretty easy and straightforward right?
I mean after all, all you have to do is to have an identity for yourself, be alligned with everything it comes with and everything is ok. No problem.
Yes. But not so fast.
Enter difficulty. First of all, one has to recognize what the identity is, what are the strong parts and the weaknesses, everything consisted in that identity. Then understand the life lived in that boundaries. Is it acceptable? Can I live like this “forever” if needed? After that, see what needs changing and what keeping and in the example of the athlete, the ability to deconstruct one whole identity and build something new in it’s place.
That is what happens when an athlete retires.
What has been up until now, must give it’s place to something new.
Usually, the new is 100% different from what was until now. One must be ready for something that radical to take place. It is “easy” to tag the challenge, but it is a whole other issue to resolve it.

Athlete Legacy program, coming from the same place, with same issues faced, provides exactly this kind of solutions to retired athletes.

Answering the question “what am I beyond the sport I play” can be creative and fun.
But not only retired athletes face identity issues.
There are numerous occasions in which the identity struggle gets real.
There are sports that are defined by the body image such as weight, for example gymnastics, boxing and weightlifting to name a few. That is a constant race against and with one’s identity.
The whole of the athlete life experience is based upon a certain lifestyle, with it’s restrictions and constant schedule keeping. When an athlete gets injured and has to sit out some time, who is he/she?

Who am I when I don’t play for any reason?

It is easy to get lost in the maze of thoughts of that kind. That is why support is crucial in those moments.
Remember, it is found that athletes have a 65% greater chance of developing a one-dimensional personality, meaning that they are more prone to create and stick with one personality identification, compared to the general public!
Injuries aside, what happens when in team sports one does not get playing time?
Coach’s decision management is crucial. Again, the importance of education is crucial.
Self education about my strengths, the situation faced and all the possibilities by which it can be resolved.
Responsibility is the key. What do I do? What more can I do? Find it and Do it.
But first get to know what you’re dealing with.
Get to the roots.
Decomposing an identity to it’s parts is not that scary as it sure sounds. Yes, it can get tricky, that is why help is needed, but the things you can find there, are your treasure!

In part 2 of this 5-part introduction to getting out of the life of the athlete alive, we will be discussing goals.
Stay tuned.

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