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Insightful articles for helping permanently-sidelined athletes find a meaningful way forward.

Posts tagged Career Ending Injuries
Healthy Adjustment to Career-Ending Injury or Health Condition Part 6: Retaining Physicality

The reality is, for many athletes, the peak performance era in competitive sports is sometimes ended sooner than expected. Whether that be a career-ending injury, repeat injuries that eventually make a comeback next to impossible, a new medical diagnosis, or a series of concussions that threaten to impact long-term brain health, being forced out of a competitive sport due to medical reasons can be devastating.  More than “losing your sport” at this point, you may feel like you’ve also been stripped of your identity. Somehow, you need to make a mental shift and create a new identity. Granted, this can be extremely difficult and can take years. However, there are many ways to make this transition easier. One specific way is to retain your physicality.

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Healthy Adjustment to Career-Ending Injury or Health Condition: Part 5: The Rebuilding Phase

Sometimes difficult transitions can make treating yourself kindly even more challenging. Evaluating emotional responses and internal dialogues while proceeding to implement change can be a tiresome task, as discussed in our previous articles here and here. Despite its potential difficulty, the exercise of evaluating internal dialogues can impact powerful change. Once you have learned to “mind your mind” and create more healthy internal dialogues, you are ready to start rebuilding what was lost.

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Becoming Sidelined: Managing Negative Self-Talk

Being forced to retire from competing in a sport that you love is objectively heartbreaking. You’re allowed (even encouraged) to let yourself feel every negative emotion that comes with grieving the loss of a really important aspect of your life and identity. What remains important throughout this process though, is that you treat yourself with kindness and patience. You owe it to yourself to alter any internal-dialogues which threaten to convince you that these circumstances are more disastrous than you are strong.

As we begin to analyze our internal dialogues, we should be wary of unhelpful thought patterns that have manifested themselves so deeply that they impact our entire perception of the world, our experiences, and ourselves. These thoughts are not reality-based and overtime they are reinforced, resulting in biases, irrational thoughts, and groundless beliefs.

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Healthy Adjustment to Career-Ending Injury or Health Condition - Part 4 Evaluating Internal Coping Strategies

Being an athlete is not an easy thing to do. It takes grit, discipline, and the resounding capacity to get back up after being knocked down. These are qualities you can continue to nurture in yourself throughout the healing process. Essentially, the same mindset which made you a great athlete has the power to help you overcome the loss you are experiencing.

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Becoming Sidelined: Creating a Healthy Identity Beyond the Game

“You’re only as good as your last game . . . match . . . race.” Sound familiar? 

As a competitor, it is common to tie your athletic identity to your performance in your sport. What can happen though it you aren’t careful is that your performance can become the key indicator of how you measure your worth and subsequently, can greatly impact how happy you are overall in life.

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Becoming Sidelined: The Loss of Athletic Identity

For athletes forced to discontinue their sport due to injury or health condition, the mental journey towards acceptance and internal healing can be confusing, complicated, and flat out brutal.  

Permanently-sidelined athletes have described their grief as feeling as though a part of them has died. Sports psychologists refer to this as “losing the athletic identity”. One of the hardest parts of processing the loss of ability to compete in sport is feeling like you don’t know who you are without your sport. 

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Recommendations for the Permanently Sidelined Athlete

It is normal and healthy to experience a period of sadness following a career-ending injury. Take some time to come to terms with what has happened. It will help you to move forward when you’re ready.

Talk about it. It can be beneficial to express your feelings to someone that you trust.

Identify those people who can provide support and encouragement in coping with your injury.

 

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