Fighting Negativity

We’re all guilty of having some negativity in our lives. And I really hate how easy it is to fall into this trap. Ever noticed that if you hang out around someone who lives and breathes a negative lifestyle that all too soon you begin to be drawn into that same negativity yourself? Bravo if you haven’t. Because whew, you have a lot of self control. Ever had someone speak something negative about you? At first you might be mad about it, but if it’s said often enough, you then slowly start to believe those words spoken over you. And as you start to believe it, you start to become it. Not because that’s who you are, but because that’s who you believe you are.

Why is it so easy to go down the path of negativity? And why is that path so easy to stay on? First of all, like I said before, the people around you have a MASSIVE impact on you. That’s just the way humans are. We start to become more like the people we’re around. And if those people are negative people, well hello negativity. Second of all, I think being negative is so easy for us because we think that if we believe the worst, then maybe we won’t disappoint ourselves. It’s like a protection mechanism. If my hopes are too high, then I could disappoint myself, my parents, my coaches, etc. But if I set the bar really low for myself, there’s no disappointment.

So how do you escape the negativity that swarms you? What do you do when your teammates start down that path of negativity and it seems so easy to follow suit? What do you do when your coach tells you you’re not good enough, or that you’re never going to be the level you’re working so hard to be able to compete? Or even worse, they tell you they’re disappointed in you?

Let me stop for just a second and say that even as I write these words, it breaks my heart knowing that some of the words I just wrote aren’t just examples of negative words. For many of you, those words are a reality. And they hurt. They sting. They make you feel worthless. And I want you to know that I hurt for you. I’m here to stand with you and fight against those words. I’m here to tell you that no matter what negative words have been spoken over you, YOU ARE LOVED and YOU ARE WORTH IT. People are flawed. They say hurtful things. Their words cut you to the core. And I am so sorry. I am so sorry you had to stand there and take those words in. I am so sorry that you’ve had to endure the pain and heartache that comes from feeling devalued and never enough. My hope and prayer is that as you read this, your heart heals and the wounds from those painful words slowly begin to disappear. Because those words are not who you are. You are so much more than a gymnast. You are a beautiful young woman who has potential beyond her dreams. And I pray that your eyes are opened to the hope and joy that comes from becoming someone who pursues positivity.

  1. Remember who you do this for.

Do you only do gymnastics to please your parents? Do you train hours upon hours just to please your coach? Or do you do gymnastics because YOU love the sport? Do you love the thrill of getting a new skill? Do you love the feeling of conquering a fear? Do you come alive when you compete your favorite event? Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some bad days in the gym! But if you’re doing the sport of gymnastics for anyone but yourself, I would say some reevaluation needs to take place. Let me take a moment to speak to those of you who are in this difficult spot. My prayer for you is that you become bold enough to search your heart for the things YOU are passionate about. Not your parents. Not your coach. YOU. I hope you take up courage to pursue the passions and gifts that are inside of you. And know that it’s okay if it’s not gymnastics. Like I said before, you are so much more than a gymnast. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Now, if you’re someone who really does gymnastics for YOU because you love what it’s all about, awesome! You are in a really great place! Now let’s get back to overcoming that negativity. I was one of those people who LOVED gymnastics. Like I said before, there were most definitely some rough days that made me want to go crawl in a hole, but I really loved gymnastics. But so often in the gym, I remember getting drawn into negative conversations I shouldn’t have been having, getting discouraged because my coach was upset with me, or feeling defeated because my teammates belittled me. And I was too shy to do anything about it. I would go home and cry as my mom hugged me.

I wanted to please my coaches. I wanted them to be proud of me. And when I felt like they weren’t, it devastated me. I know you know the feeling. In those moments, if I had remembered why I did gymnastics and who I was doing it for, I think it would have changed things. I was so concerned with pleasing the people around me, the joy of gymnastics often was lost.

Don’t let that happen to you! Remember why you love this sport! Remember why you got out of bed early on a Saturday morning to go to practice even when you really just wanted to stay in bed. Remember what drives you to do what you do. Stop focusing on pleasing everyone else. Everyone has bad days, even coaches. And sometimes they say things they wish they could take back. Unfortunately, there are some coaches that find their identity in being a coach and therefore project that onto your success as their gymnast. But that’s their problem. Not yours. If you really love this sport, remember that this is YOUR passion and joy. And don’t let negativity start to slowly steal that away from you.

  1. Fight back.

Now, when I say fight back, I don’t mean start a knock down drag out fight with your teammates or coaches when they’re negative. The fight I’m talking about is more mental. Sometimes it takes some bravery. And let me just say, this isn’t an easy one. It takes some trial and error and LOTS of practice. Give yourself some grace as you give this one a try. When your teammates start to go down that road, it’s okay to say, “Hey guys, let’s try to be more positive.” And it’s even okay to walk away if they’re not ready to start this process of positivity themselves. You can still love them and respect them, but you don’t have to be a part of that.

Now, negative coaches are a little trickier. I believe in respecting your authority, no matter what. But respecting them doesn’t always mean agreeing with them. Maybe you didn’t do a skill you needed to do today, and all of a sudden your coach tells you that you’ll never be ready to compete that season. That you’ll never make the changes you need to make to get better. You don’t have to say anything. In fact, it’s probably better not to. But that’s when you have to remind yourself of what’s true. “I CAN do this skill. I WILL make the corrections and changes necessary to get better. Just because I didn’t do it today doesn’t mean I can’t tomorrow. I’ve got this.” Shake it off and move on.

Respect your coach and remember that you are strong. Not just from all that conditioning, but mentally, too. You’re stronger than those negative words. That’s not who you are. You may have made a mistake that day, but that doesn’t define you. Yeah, your coach may have gotten frustrated, but it’ll be okay. If you gave it your all, then that’s all you can do. And if not, maybe apologize and do your best tomorrow. But ultimately, not doing that skill or whatever happened to frustrate your coach does not define you. Remember gymnastics is a part, and maybe a big part, of your life. It’s not your whole life.

  1. Relax.

Relax?! What!? This is gymnastics! Yeah, I know. And it’s something I wish I had learned when I was gymnast way back when. I allowed myself to get worked up over the smallest things (and still do sometimes) to the point I was so emotionally drained that I had nothing left to give. That’s not healthy! And I feel like it’s something we’re so prone to do as gymnasts because we do a sport where the goal is perfection. But what I realized as I got older is that REAL perfection does not exist. Gymnasts will ALWAYS fight for perfection. Which means they’ll always come up short. And yeah, there may be some college gymnasts who get a 10.0, but the majority of us get below that perfect ten.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with working to become the best gymnast you can be by making your skills the most perfect they can be. That’s the sport of gymnastics. But when that perfection pursuit begins to destroy the love you have for this sport, that’s when you have to take a step back and relax a little. You have to find balance. Because it’s when that balance is lost that mental chaos ensues and negativity becomes the only voice in your head.

I will say this again: You are not defined by being a gymnast. When you allow yourself to be defined by your success or perfection in gymnastics or by what your teammates or coaches say about you, negativity will be right there to follow. It will always remind you of how you’re not perfect and because of that you’ll never get there and you’ll always struggle with that skill and blah de blah de BLAH. YUCK! Let me just go ahead and tell you… You aren’t perfect. AND THAT’S OKAY. I’m certainly not. Never have been, never will be. And neither will anyone else. You are loved just the way you are. You are beautiful even in your imperfections. And don’t let negativity tell you otherwise.

How To Conquer Your Fear

Fear is a word that causes something to rise up within us. There is never a warm fuzzy feeling that accompanies fear. Fear always has a negative connotation attached to it. And it is something we all face as humans. Fear is an instinct. We even rank our fears, because, for most of us, we don’t have just one. Have you ever been asked the question, “What is your worst fear?”

Typically when most people think of fear, they think of things like heights or spiders or snakes or public speaking. But if you’re a gymnast and the word fear is mentioned, skills start popping up in your head. Am I right?!

Fear is frustrating! Especially when you can’t explain exactly what you’re afraid of. Maybe it’s your acro series on beam. Maybe it’s your release on bars. Maybe it’s a mental block that you just can’t seem to get over on something that seems like it should be so simple. Fear is part of gymnastics. Gymnasts do some scary stuff! But all of us want to overcome our fears. We don’t want to just sit there and do nothing.

First of all, I want you to know that having fears is okay. It’s natural! Fear doesn’t mean you’re weak. It doesn’t mean you’ll never get that skill. It doesn’t mean that you’re stuck. You can overcome.

And you will overcome! I want to teach you the method I used as a gymnast to overcome my fears. And trust me. There were A LOT of them. And sometimes, this method wasn’t a quick fix. Sometimes this method took days. So be patient with yourself. Every step forward is a step toward conquering your fear!

  1. Decide.

Sometimes as gymnasts, we think that one day everything will just magically feel perfect and the fear will be gone. So until that perfect moment, we just wait. THEN when that moment comes, we can do it! WRONG. I hate to burst your bubble, but those moments never come. Unfortunately, fear doesn’t magically disappear. I wish it did. But it doesn’t.

What I can tell you though is that you have control over your fear. Sometimes we think our fear is so much stronger than it actually is and we start to let it control us. And when that happens, the breakdown comes. The tears start flowing. And we cry ourselves into exhaustion.

But there’s a better way! And no, I didn’t say easy, but it is SO much better. You have to decide. There comes a point in our fear that we have to decide which way this is going to go. Is fear going to control us? Or are we going to choose to control it? Once again, making this decision doesn’t make the fear disappear. But what it does do is put you in control of that fear. It’s still there, but it doesn’t get a say anymore. Make the decision before you get on that beam or before you climb up on that bar that you ARE going to do it. No matter what.

  1. Commit.

So now you’re up there. You’re heart is racing. But you’ve already decided that this is the time. This is the turn you’re going to do it.

Now, decisions mean nothing without action. The decision is just a step toward taking action. Once you’ve decided that you’re going to do it before you get up on the event, now it’s time to follow through by committing to the skill.

When you’re standing up on that beam or in front support about to cast up to a handstand on bars (can you tell my biggest fears were on beam and bars??), now is the time to commit. You’re NOT going to do another timer. When your fear says, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING????” in the middle of the skill, your decision and commitment are strong enough to kick in and say, “GO!” But you HAVE to be REALLY committed.

Easy, right? Ha! Not really. But it gets easier! The first time is always the scariest. After you commit once, committing to it the second and third and fourth time gets easier and easier. But you have to decide and commit that first time.

  1. Conquer.

This is my favorite one! Once you go the first time, you’ve conquered!!!! Now, the fear may not be completely gone, and you might have to go through the decision/commit process a few more times, but ultimately you have conquered the worst part of your fear! Your fear isn’t keeping you from going for it anymore! And that’s HUGE!

You are a conqueror! You are so much stronger than your fears. I challenge you to decide and commit to overcoming the fear that’s holding you back. I believe in you!


I want to hear about your challenges and successes! Please feel free to message me with more questions about overcoming fear OR to share a fear you’ve overcome!

Do You Perform For Love?

Let me tell you a little bit of my story…

My mom enrolled me in gymnastics at eighteen months old, and we took “Mommy and Me” classes. From that point on, there was no turning back. Gymnastics was my life. It consumed my every breath. I started homeschooling in the fourth grade so that I could devote more of my life to training.

I also loved Jesus. I received Jesus into my heart at an early age and desired to follow Him and serve Him and glorify Him through the sport of gymnastics. I had dreams to stand on the Olympic podium one day with a gold medal around my neck and give all the glory to Him. But although I loved Jesus with everything, I learned to “earn” love instead of just receiving what had already been given to me.

I was always told to not let gymnastics become my identity, but there were definitely times it did indeed define who I was as a person. I remember thinking at one point, “ I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t a gymnast.” My purpose, in my teenage mind, was being a gymnast for the glory of God. I thought that if I always performed to the best of my ability, the Lord would be proud of me. I never grasped that my real purpose in life was simply to love and be loved.

I don’t think I was ever directly told, “The Lord loves you because you’re an incredible gymnast,” but I don’t think I was ever told, “Hey, even if you didn’t do gymnastics, even if you didn’t do anything, the Lord will still love you just as much.” My life was a performance. If you did well, you got recognized. You won first place. You qualified to Nationals. And if I worked my butt off and made it to the top, all the glory went to God. If I worked my butt off and didn’t make it, I knew the Lord was still proud of me for doing my best for His glory.

Inherently, there’s nothing wrong with that view. You work hard; God gets all the glory. The Bible even says in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “…Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” But in “doing everything for the glory of God,” I missed the foundational truth that I wasn’t loved for “doing.” I was loved for simply “being.”

Perfection is the goal of gymnastics. You’re always striving for that unrealistic goal of getting a perfect score. As a gymnast, you eventually come to the conclusion that getting a 10.0 on everything is just not possible. But that doesn’t mean you won’t try your hardest to get as close as possible. Your sport, and your life if you train thirty hours a week like I did, become about striving for perfection. Day in and day out. Over and over and over again. Tears, frustration, and pain are what drive you. And then every once in a while, your hard work pays off. You get that skill. You win that competition. You’re overcome with joy! But then, it starts all over again the next day. A new skill, a new competition, a new goal to strive for. Naturally, you begin to learn that you earn by striving. You receive by doing something. And eventually, that became the story of my life.

Because of the very nature of the sport to which I dedicated my life, I never saw anything wrong with striving for perfection. I even let it bleed over into other aspects of my life and labeled it “excellence.” I remember crying during my schoolwork so many times because I didn’t fully understand the math concept I had just learned three minutes earlier. I gave myself no grace or room to fail. But that was okay because I was “doing everything for the glory of God.”

When your life goal becomes perfection, pride and arrogance begin to take root. You take pride in the things you’ve done or accomplished, and those “things” begin to define you. Then, when you feel as if you’ve failed or done nothing noteworthy, you label yourself as not good enough. You label yourself as a failure. And as this pattern continues, pride takes over. Piece by piece.

I noticed this pattern in my life when I became an adult. Every time I made a mistake, I felt like a mess. I felt unworthy. I felt as if I had some serious cleaning up to do. The perfection I had strived for in gymnastics wasn’t just because I was a gymnast. Perfection had become my goal, my aim in life. And if I didn’t hit the bull’s-eye, then I had failed. I had essentially started “scoring” all the areas of my life. My relationships: 9.3. My dating relationship: 8.7. My job and my work: 9.5. My love for God: 9.2. Showing God that I love Him: 8.5.

I looked at these areas of my life and if they weren’t close to a 10.0, then I could do better. I projected this idea of scoring onto the Lord, and if the Lord thought I could do better, then that meant I wasn’t doing well enough. That meant, in my mind, that I wasn’t good enough. And I started to wonder if I ever would be. I started thinking that I had to do something to improve my scores. What could I do for the Lord so He would raise my scores and see me as “enough” again?

It’s so easy to get caught up in a life of performance. I certainly did. Maybe it was how you were raised. Maybe an A on a test isn’t good enough, and if it isn’t an A+, you get a lecture, or worse. Maybe if you don’t win first place in a sport, you feel worthless. Maybe a parent or coach even told you that you were.

One of the biggest struggles of my life has been trying to understand how God isn’t like that. I was told, “Your Father doesn’t operate like that. He loves you for you. You don’t have to do anything to earn His love. In fact, you can’t earn it. And you don’t have to perform for Him to show Him that you love Him.” It made no sense to me. I had so many questions. “How do I love God then? How does He know that I love Him? Why does He love me? I’m certainly not worth it. Have you seen me? Have you seen the mess I’ve made? Why would He love me?”

The words “I don’t understand” came out of my mouth so many times. Proverbs 3:5 had never been so real: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” “What? Don’t lean on my own understanding? Then how do I understand?!” As confusing as it was, there was a certain peace in knowing that I didn’t have to understand. But there was so much fear attached to that word trust. I had been relying on myself and trusting myself and my knowledge for so long that I didn’t even know where to begin with just trusting. Trusting the Lord, trusting in His character, trusting in His love, trusting the people around me that the Lord had placed in my life.

It seemed so much safer to just trust myself. Fear came crashing in full force. I spent almost a year of my life absolutely terrified. “What if I trust and then end up making the wrong decision? What if I make a mistake and the Lord is disappointed in me?” But that’s what trust is. Trusting by understanding and knowing isn’t trusting. I have to trust that the Lord loves me. No matter what. And it’s not based on doing. It’s based simply on being His daughter. I have to trust that the Lord has strategically placed people in my life to speak the truth over me. If they’re all saying the same thing and I’m stuck over here in my head thinking that I’m right and they’re all wrong, then I’m just being plain prideful.

I’m learning that trusting is an integral part of life. Its not just part of some worship songs. It’s not some nice little phrase we say. It’s peace that we’ve wrapped in fear. It’s so simple. But simple doesn’t mean easy. Trusting isn’t about understanding first. Trust comes first, then the understanding. The Lord is faithful. He’s been faithful to my heart. He will continue to be. And He’ll be faithful to yours too.

Are you like me? Do you let your gymnastics performance bleed over into your performance in life? Do you need to trust Jesus with your gymnastics? Do you need to trust Him with your life? I promise you can. Because He’s trustworthy.

He loves you for YOU. Not for your performance.