Confidence vs. Pride

When I was eight years old, I remember my coach telling my mom that some of my teammates were saying that I had been bragging. My eight-year-old heart was devastated. I was so embarrassed. I never wanted to brag about my gymnastics. I never wanted to hurt my teammates feelings.

I remember walking in the gym that day so sad and scared and embarrassed. I was scared my teammates didn’t want me there. I didn’t want to look them in the eye. I was so discouraged.

From that point on, I decided that I wasn’t going to say anything about myself that could hurt my teammates. And in my little brain, that meant not saying anything positive about myself. I thought being humble meant being negative about my gymnastics and myself. When people found out I did gymnastics and asked me if I was good, I could never look them in the eye and say yes with confidence. I was always hesitant. I hated those questions. They made me afraid I was going to hurt someone.

I was afraid to own the fact that I was a good gymnast my entire gymnastics career because of that one moment. And that one moment made me buy into the lie that I had to be negative about myself to keep from being prideful.

I still struggle with this today. Sean, my husband, tells me all the time to stop being so negative about myself. But it’s like second nature to me at this point. Sometimes the words come out of my mouth before I even realize what I’m saying.

I’m really trying to work on this myself because negative words are SO destructive. What you say about yourself is what you eventually start to believe. And when you don’t stop, you just keep digging out your negativity hole. It gets bigger and bigger and soon, you’re stuck in the hole. You look around and all you see are the negative things you’ve spoken about yourself. The positive begins to disappear.

What I’m learning as I get older is there is a very big distinction between being prideful and being confident. Pride is thinking you’re all that. It’s believing you’re better than everyone else. And a lot of times, pride involves vocalizing that belief.

Have you ever been around someone who just talks about how great they are all the time? They talk about all the skills they’re getting, how much stronger they are than everyone else, how they’re skipping a level because they’re just so good. I think we all know someone like that. And that’s pride. Pride isn’t fun to be around. It builds itself up and tears everyone else down.

Confidence builds you up while building other people up in the process. It sees your short comings, but in spite of them says, “You can do this.” Confidence is seeing the negative and throwing the positive in its face. At the 2016 Olympics, Laurie Hernandez was getting ready to compete beam finals, and she was so nervous. But right after she saluted, she told herself, “I got this.” If you watch the video, you can even see her say it to herself. That’s confidence. Right when she started to get nervous and doubt started to creep in, she said to herself, “Nope. I got this.” There was no pride involved. Just confidence in herself. And she won the silver.

Now, let’s think for a second how her beam routine might have ended up if she had let her fear and nerves take over. Sure, she might have done the same beam routine. Maybe even still have gotten the silver. But I personally believe that if she hadn’t set her mind straight, she would have done a beam routine that was shaky and full of nerves and fear. And I think it would have been evident, resulting in lots of wobbles, maybe even a fall. I truly believe that’s the power we have over our mind. And she proved it.

Think about yourself for a minute. Where do you land when you think about your gymnastics? Do you have the tendency to be negative about yourself? Do you tend to talk about how great you are all the time? Or do you look your challenges, mistakes, and fears in the face and say, “I got this”?

Words are powerful. And because your words (or thoughts) can either build you up or destroy you, I want you to take some time to evaluate yourself. Really think about times you’ve been negative, prideful, and confident. Take yourself back to those moments and think about how you could have responded in a way that would have built you or your teammates up instead of tearing all of you down.

You have a choice every day you walk in the gym. You can choose to be negative, you can choose to be prideful, or you can choose to be confident. The choice is yours. So, what will you choose today?

Whose Gymnastics Are You Focused On?

When I was a gymnast, my mom used to ask me, “Whose gymnastics are you focused on?” So often I would come home from practice and tell her all about my teammates, and it usually had to do with one of three things: envy, jealousy, or comparison.

Let’s talk about the difference between these three things for a minute.

Envy is wishing you had something someone else has. For example, in the gymnastics world, it’s easy to be envious of the girl who gets five new skills a day, but it takes you a year to get five new skills. You wish you could be like her.

Jealousy is a fear that someone else will replace you. For example, maybe you are the best gymnast on the team, and because of that you get most of the attention. But then all of a sudden, someone else starts to get more attention. Your coach starts to point them out instead of you. And you become jealous of her. You become afraid that she is going to take your place. Jealousy is extremely common in friendship amongst teammates as well.

Comparison is comparing what you have or can do to what someone else has or can do. Comparison causes you to either think very negatively about yourself or to think very highly of yourself and believe you are better than everyone else. For example, you see your teammate get a new skill that you don’t have yet. You compare yourself to her and say, “How does she have that skill and I don’t? I must be an awful gymnast.” Or maybe you are the one who gets the new skill that your teammates don’t have yet, and it causes you to say, “I have this skill and they don’t. I’m so much better than they are.”

Do you see how all three of these can be destructive not only to you, but to your team as well? Envy, jealousy, and comparison are all nasty! But it’s something we all struggle with. Especially as girls. Especially as gymnasts.

I want you to think about yourself for a second. Which of these three things do you tend to struggle with the most? Maybe it’s only one. Maybe it’s all three. Whatever you struggle with, I have good news for you! You can overcome! You can become a gymnast who focuses only on your gymnastics while supporting your teammates without envy, jealousy, or comparison!

Now, I didn’t say it was easy. These three things seem to come naturally to us as human beings, so it takes a little retraining of our minds. Instead of thinking of yourself as better or worse than your teammates, here are some things I want you to begin to think of yourself as:

SUPPORTER. You are your teammates’ supporter. How amazing does it feel when you have the support of someone? When you have someone who supports you and your dream, it makes all the difference in the world. And you can be that for your teammates. Everyone needs support. So choose to be that support for them.

ENCOURAGER. In combination with being your teammates’ supporter, you are also their encourager. It feels so good to know you have someone there to encourage you when it’s a great day and pick you back up when it’s a rough one. But not only are you your teammates’ encourager, you’re also your own encourager. It’s time to start encouraging yourself! I have a gymnast that I currently coach who literally talks to herself. When she’s getting ready to go for a skill, she audibly says, “You’ve got this. You’re gonna go.” And I love it! I love how she drowns out the negative with the positive. Maybe you don’t say it audibly, but in your head, remind yourself that you’ve got this.

CONQUEROR. You, my friend, are a conqueror. Everyone has their own struggles. What you struggle with isn’t what your teammate struggles with. You have your strengths and weaknesses, and so do they. So instead of focusing on your weaknesses and their strengths, I want you to focus on how you can conquer your weaknesses and help your teammates do the same. After all, you are a team. You all need each other! Your strength might help someone else in their weakness. But if you’re too busy focusing on how terrible you are you’re never going to help anyone. Especially not yourself.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post on negativity and how it’s contagious. Well… so is positivity and encouragement! I want to challenge you to be the example. Even if no one else is doing it. Choose to be the supporter. Be the encourager. Be the conqueror. When your teammates see your example, they’ll soon follow. It’s contagious! They need you. And you need them.

So let me ask you, whose gymnastics are you focused on?