The burden of being consistently great, consistently excellent, consistently on, is one that can and does eventually cripple the most elite performers in any field — from investment bankers to athletes.
Expectations are heavy. You may not notice one or two, but pile enough on and even the broadest shoulders will sag under the weight.
Sometimes the injuries aren’t visible, because they happen in the mind. Consistent states of overwhelm, anxiety, panic, and distress create a trauma. It’s an invisible injury with physical impact, even if there’s no broken bones or torn ligaments.
Yes, there are many situations where “regular people” and athletes push through difficulty and stress. The fact that our culture idolizes this the people who do this and labels themselves as heroes only increases the burden of the expectations to push everything else aside and “power through.”
At what cost?
For some sports, not being fully in their mind and presence can create a risk of paralysis or death.
The mind and body are inextricably linked. Mental health is physical health. They are not separate.
And yet, if an athlete pulls out of a competition because of a physical injury, they garner support, sympathy, and well wishes. But if they dare to share that they are having a mindset issue, they get labeled a quitter and a traitor to their team.
Nobody trains daily for 5 years only to pull out at the last minute.
It takes courage to step away and say “I can’t keep myself safe today so I’m going to withdraw.”
We don’t know how many athletes make up a physical ailment just to avoid the stigma ascribed to “mental health issues.”
Nobody should have to lie.
The athletes who dare to speak truth show courage. They are far from being quitters; they are leaders. They help normalize the truth: health is health.
Not all injuries are visible; that doesn’t mean they aren’t real.
Trusting yourself is paramount in any endeavor. Listening to your body and knowing your limits are essential skills that some of us never learn.
We can learn a lot from those who dare to speak up for themselves. Nobody is super human, not even the most gifted athletes.
Instead of criticizing them, perhaps we can ask how it is that even athletes at the elite level, who have trainers and access to resources, aren’t taught adequate skills for coping with intense stress?
If they can’t get that support what does it say for the rest of us?
Health is health. We must give equal billing to mental, emotional, and physical health. Performance in any endeavor must be holistic.
no mind no body
mental health is physical
they work together