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?