The Why, What, Where, Who and When of Self-Compassion in Sport

The Why, What, Where, Who and When of Self-Compassion in Sport

The past few weeks, I have been talking to people about self-compassion and how it relates to sports people. Subsequently, today I wanted to share some more about the why, what, where, who and when of self-compassion in sport. Let’s get started…


Why Self-Compassion?

Quite simply because –

 “A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.” ~ Christopher Germer


What is Self-Compassion?

Christopher Germer in his book The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions refers to self-compassion as 

“… simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.”

In her book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, Dr Kristin Neff refers to self compassion as having three components –

  1. Self-kindness – being gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical and judgmental.  
  2. Common humanity – feeling connected with others in the experience of life rather than feeling isolated and alienated by our suffering (i.e. experiencing our imperfections). 
  3. Mindfulness – that we hold our experience in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring our pain and exaggerating it.

  Also, in the The Force of Kindness, Sharon Salzberg wrote – 

“this kind of compulsive concern with “I, me and mine” isn’t the same as loving ourselves… Loving ourselves points us to capacities of resilience, compassion and understanding within that are simply part of being alive.”


Where Can I Use Self-Compassion?

Simply – everywhere! Yep, over the years (and after being an athlete) I have invested many hours researching, learning and discovering how to be a well-being. For me, one of those keys has been developing self-compassion and I use it daily in my life and wish I had learn it when I was playing tennis. Some specific ways would be –

  • recovering from an injury,
  • befriending and transforming the inner critic,
  • using self-compassion to deal effectively with challenging emotions, and
  • enhancing emotional regulation.


Who Can Use Self-Compassion?

Again, simply – everyone! There are a few myths or misperceptions about self-compassion though, so I thought I would share them below.


Myth: “If I’m too self-compassionate, won’t I just be lazy and selfish?”

Reality: Despite being socially acceptable, self-criticism is not a helpful strategy to helping us fulfil our potential. It can actually do the cause up to feel insecure and inadequate.


Myth: “I am not worthy of compassion.”

Reality: Everyone is worthy of compassion – as we have all made mistakes, no one is perfect.


Myth: Self-compassion is just a form of self-pity or self-indulgence.

Reality: Self-compassion means I think my problems are also important and worthy of being attended to as well as your problems. Self-compassion is about being with our challenges and seeing them as they are not numbing them or pushing them away, which is more self-indulgent.


Myth: We have to earn the right for compassion.

Reality: According to the Dalai Lama, “Human beings by nature want happiness and do not want suffering. With that everyone tries to achieve happiness and tries to get rid of suffering, and everyone has a basic right to do this.. Basically, from the viewpoint of real human value, we are all the same.”


Myth: Self-criticism is an effective motivation strategy

Reality: self-criticism is not a helpful strategy to feel better despite it being socially acceptable. In fact, it can cause you to feel insecure and inadequate.


When Can We Be Self-Compassionate in Sport?

Mmm – think you may be getting the drift of this! Again – in many places. When a number of female athletes were interviewed about how self-compassion could help them in their sporting lives, they identified a variety of potential areas including –

  • Failing to meet personal goals and expectations or making mistakes within their sport,
  • Working through injuries and focusing on what they can do to recover,
  • Managing a performance or training plateau,
  • Stepping back and looking at situations in a positive light (i.e. seeing the silver lining),
  • Helping you reach your full potential,
  • Persisting and concentrating on what you can do (not what you can’t),
  • Taking responsibility for difficult sporting experiences, and
  • Keeping a balanced perspective and allowing yourself to move on.


Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insight in to the 5W’s of Self-Compassion in Sport. Over time, I have realised for myself, if I wanted to change my life, I needed to change, which is why I continue to make I’mPowering choices and live above the line. If you have any questions, please leave any questions or comments below.

Also – if you liked this article and want to keep taking the next step towards freedom and opening your heart to life beyond sportplease feel free to join the Life Beyond Elite Sport community by clicking here.


References –

Germer, C. (2009). The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and EmotionsNew York: Guilford Press.

Neff, K. (2011). Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. New York, USA: HarperCollins Publishers.  


What is Mental Health in Sport?

What is Mental Health in Sport?

Today on the blog, I wanted to share about mental health and how it relates to sport. Let’s get started…


What is Mental Health?

Mental health is a term often used to describe an individual’s mental state. The World Health Organisation defines it as:

“A state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stressors of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

As a term ‘mental health’ is frequently misunderstood. It is often referred to as a substitute for mental health conditions (e.g. depression, schizophrenia and anxiety conditions). However, as you can see by the definition above, everyone can benefit from looking after their mental health.


Mental Health Intervention Spectrum

When I was working in a National Mental Health Initiative (Sep 2004 – Dec 2011), I was fortunate enough to learn quite a bit about mental health. I also supported schools to increase their knowledge and understanding of mental health. One of the ways we talked about mental health this was through the spectrum of interventions. As you can see by the diagram below it looks at – mental health promotion, prevention, treatment and maintenance.

More can read more about the diagram here.


Mental Health is Everybody’s Business

As you can see by the diagram above, at the core of mental health is providing strategies for promoting wellbeing and quality of life. The strategies will be different for different populations, however the intention remains the same – promoting well-being and quality of life for everyone!


What is Mental Health in Sport?

After reading the above, can you see the importance of mental health and how it can relate to sport? For example – do you think it is important for athletes to –

  • have a safe and supportive environment to practise and play their sport in?
  • be able to learn from their losses, injuries and others challenges in their sport (i.e. develop resilience)?
  • develop competence, resourcefulness and strategies to look after their mental health? and
  • feel a sense of empowerment over their sport and also their life?

Yes? Me too!


Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insight in to what is mental health in sport? I truly believe mental health and wellbeing is everybody’s business. If you have any comments, please leave them below.

Also – if you liked this article and want to keep taking the next step towards freedom and opening your heart to life beyond sportplease feel free to join the Life Beyond Elite Sport community by clicking here.


Reference –

Barry, M. (2001). Promoting positive mental health: Theoretical frameworks for practice. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 3(1), 25-34


Recognising Mental Blocks and the Impact they Can Have in Sport and Life

Recognising Mental Blocks and the Impact they Can Have in Sport and Life

When we start to reconnect with our authentic selves and who we are on a deeper level, we can start to recognise mental blocks and the impact they can have on the present (for example our sport and life). Subsequently, in this post I am going to share more about mental blocks.  


What Are Mental Blocks?

A mental block is a thought construct that is held within your subconscious mind that is not in alignment with your authentic Self. A mental block is generally from the past that could be effecting the present and how you are experiencing life. Mental blocks range from memories, beliefs, decisions / choices, past experiences. Mental blocks come from many places, including – family members, teachers, coaches, media, society and culture. They are generally formed by repeated thoughts and are mostly created in childhood from interactions with the people around us (N.B. this is not about blaming anyone, particularly our parents). For example –

  • beliefs – which are essentially thoughts that are continually thought over and over without questioning whether it is true or not NOW. Some beliefs can help us move forward, however some are mindset blocks.
  • decision / choices – decisions and / or choices that may or may not have been made unconsciously in the past. For example – a young person who didn’t know how to cope with stress may have felt that eating chocolate was a useful coping strategy at the time. However, over time this may no longer serve them and the associated thoughts may end up being a mindset block.
“Nothing binds you except your thoughts; nothing limits you except your fear; and nothing controls you except your beliefs.” ~ Marianne Williamson


Some Examples of Mental Blocks or Limitations

Following are some examples of mental blocks that relate to the different areas and / or aspects of sport and life –

Is Anything Holding You Back or Limiting Your Flow of Sport and / or Life?

After seeing the above graphic, could you identify anything in your sport and / or life that is holding you back or limiting your flow in some way. The limitation could be about you, other people, experience and / or the world. These limitations may –
  • hold you back from making different choices in your sport and / or life,
  • keep you from seeing the different opportunities presented to you each day,
  • prevent you from seeing you own gifts or accepting the gifts offered to you, or
  • keep you stuck focusing on the negative aspect of your circumstances.
One of the challenges with limitations is most of us don’t think we have them and they can be hard to spot.


Starting to Untangle from Mental Blocks

Once we start to recognise the mental blocks within us, the great news is we can start to untangle from them. Yes, that takes work, however as one of the people whom I have learnt a lot from says –

“Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world.” ~ Ramana Maharshi 


Over to You…

I hope this article has given you some insight in to mental blocks and some ways they may be impacting your flow of sport and life. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to share them below. Also – please make sure you find a qualified professional who can help you untangle from any mental blocks.

When you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and living whole-heartedly (i.e. across sport and life)you are also welcome tjoin our newsletter here


What is Resilience?

What is Resilience?

Recently, I have been talking a lot about resilience. And, yes this often misunderstood concept is something close to my heart. In fact, I wrote an article on it back in 2006 on it and republished some of it here. However, today I am just going to share some knowledge about the concept, so let’s get started…


What is Resilience?

Resilience has been a concept that continues to grow and evolve over the years. Within the dictionary, some definitions of resilience include –

  • “ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or thelike; buoyancy.” ~
  • “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” ~ Google and Oxford Dictionaries
  • “Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress – such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.” ~ PsychCentral

Within the research, resilience continues to prove popular and some of the research indicates –

  • (Resilience is) the universal capacity which allows a person, group or community to prevent, minimise or overcome damaging effects of adversity” ~ Grotberg, 1995, p.6,
  • “…personal resilience strengths are the individual characteristics associated with healthy development and life success” ~ Benard, 2004p.13,
  • “Resilience refers to the process of overcoming the negative effects of risk exposure, coping successfully with traumatic experiences, and avoiding the negative trajectories associated with risks” ~ Fergus & Zimmerman, 2005, p.399, and
  • “the capacity of individuals to navigate their physical and social ecologies to provide resources, as well as their access to families and communities who can culturally navigate for them” ~ Ungar, Brown, Liebenberg, Cheung, & Levine, 2008, p.168.


Bonnie Bernard’s Personal Resilience Strengths 

In the above definition by Bonnie Bernard, she refers to personal resilience strengths. It is important to note that these personal strengths do not cause resilience, but are the positive developmental outcomes that demonstrate that these innate individual characteristics are engaged (Benard, 2004). The four categories of personal resilience strengths are:

  1. social competence (communication skills; being responsive to others; having empathy and caring for others; forgiveness and compassion);
  2. problem-solving (planning; flexibility; help-seeking; critical and creative thinking);
  3. autonomy (a secure sense of identity; self-worth; initiative; ability to cope; sense of humour); and
  4. sense of purpose (hope for future; personal goals and values; sense of faith; connectedness with others) – (Benard, 2004).

To develop these innate personal strengths and produce good developmental outcomes, young people need to be in a nurturing environment. Some of the environments the young people are involved in include schools, families, and communities (including sporting clubs). A nurturing environment is one where the young person experiences caring relationships, high but achievable expectations, and authentic opportunities to participate and contribute (Benard, 2004).


So What? 

Recognising that we each have an innate ability to transform the challenges of life is a gift. However, the thing is like most things in life, it takes work, practise and action. However, you are worth the effort.


Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insight in to resilience. Do you think developing and enhancing resilience would be useful in young people and also adults? If you have any questions, please feel free to write them below. 

Also, if you liked this article and want to keep learning about resilience and how we can continue to foster resilience in our whole livesplease feel free to join the Life Beyond Elite Sport community by clicking here.


References –

Benard, B. (2004). Resiliency – What Have We Learned. San Francisco, CA: WestEd.

Fergus, S., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2005). Adolescent resilience: A framework for understanding healthy development in the face of risk. Annual Review of Public Health, 26, 399-419.

Grotberg, E. (1995). A Guide to Promoting Resilience in Children: Strengthening the Human Spirit. Early Childhood Development: Practice and Reflections. Den Haag, Netherlands: Bernard van Leer Foundation.

Ungar, M., Brown, M., Liebenberg, L., Cheung, M., & Levine, K. (2008). Distinguishing differences in pathways to resilience among Canadian youth. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 27(1), 1-13.

My Self-Trust Journal is Published…

My Self-Trust Journal is Published…

Woohoo – My Self-Trust Journal is Published…

A few weeks ago now (March 27, 2022 to be exact), the My Self-Trust Journal was published 💙

Learning to come home to my true Self, develop greater self-awareness and increase self-trust has been an adventure that has been going for many years now 💙

Being on the adventure and shifting from the external (i.e. people-pleasing and imposter syndrome) to the internal (questioning my own sense of worth and purpose or if I had one) and knowing who I Am hasn’t been easy, however it’s worth it 💙

It’s involved many, many, many hours of training, being coached / mentored and even 4 x 10-day silent meditation retreats. It’s truly been a rollercoaster ride – very few regrets though and I’ll keep (un)learning 💙

Now it’s ready to be shared with the world 💙



Thanks again mum for your support over the past few days of editing – you are a gem and I am so lucky to have you as my mum 💙

Thanks so much to my brother for his photography insights 💙

Thank you also to the clients whom I’ve worked with over the years and of course my own mentors and inner circle – am so grateful 💙

If you have read this far and for those people who have asked, this is the link to find out more where you can purchase it or find out more here.

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