Overcoming adversity can be a daunting task, but cultivating self-love can be the key to unlocking the inner strength needed to face challenges with resilience and empowerment. As Louise Hay once said, “When we love ourselves, we don’t shy away from difficult situations or people, because we know that we have the inner resources to handle them.” But how do we cultivate this love for ourselves and tap into our inner strength?
Enter the GOLDEN formula – a guide for navigating the toughest of times with resilience and empowerment. This formula is a roadmap to help us find our way back to self-love and worthiness. Here are the steps to follow:
Grieve any losses or setbacks
Observe what has worked in the past
Love and care for ourselves
Determine our purpose and motivations
Enjoy the process of growth and learning
kNow our own worth
Understanding Self-Love and Its Benefits
But what is self-love? It is the practice of caring for oneself and prioritizing one’s well-being, including accepting oneself for who they are and cultivating a positive relationship with oneself. It is not about being selfish or self-absorbed, but rather the foundation of self-respect and compassion towards oneself. Cultivating self-love requires understanding one’s worth, identifying and challenging negative self-talk, practicing self-care, and setting healthy boundaries. The benefits of self-love are significant, including better mental health, greater self-esteem, more resilience, and a positive outlook on life. Self-love is not just a buzzword, it’s an essential tool for overcoming adversity.
The Importance of Self-Love in Overcoming Adversity
Adversity can be illness, financial insecurity, injustice, or really anything that gets in your path. Sometimes, you can overcome adversity by taking action, and other times, adversity isn’t so simple.
Self love, during times of adversity, manifests in different ways. You can hold space, grace, and compassion for who you are and what you’ve gone through. You can take time to practice self-soothing habits and recharge your mind. You can also find self love through speaking up and fighting for yourself in challenging situations.
A Personal Story of Overcoming Adversity and the Importance of Self Love
It was in early 2021 that I truly began to understand the importance of self-care, as I faced one of the most challenging times of my snowboarding career. I had just come off maternity leave and was crushing my return to sport while also preparing to qualify for the 2022 Beijing Winter Paralympics.
For background, para sports attempt to maintain fairness by creating disability classes based on the severity of the disabilities. Certain disabilities are grouped together by level of impairment and compete against each other. This way, I typically compete against other para athletes who face a similar level of impairment as opposed to some one whose disability is less severe than mine. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough eligible women in my competition class, known as LL1 (above the knee amputee/similar severity), to qualify LL1 events in The Paralympic Games. As heartbreaking as this was, we were assured we could “compete up” with the other class of para snowboarding women, known as LL2s (below the knee amputations/similar severity). Because LL1’s disabilities are considered more severe, we would be at the disadvantage in competing in a mixed class with LL2s.
While I knew I was signing up for tougher competition and putting myself at a disadvantage, I wasn’t fazed because I would rather compete in a harder challenge than not compete at all. So, I started training to compete in the LL2 class for the Games and competing against LL2s on the World Cup circuit. Then my plans were flipped completely upside down.
In February 2021 (almost one year before the games), the rules for Beijing 2022 were announced, and these rules excluded me and my class from participating in the Paralympics. We weren’t allowed to compete up – meaning we couldn’t compete at all, despite competing with the LL2 class all season in the World Cups.
I was devastated that my future in the sport was seemingly ended without a viable reason. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what my options were, who could help, or how to fight this ruling. All I knew was that it was unjust, and (at the very least) I deserved answers.
It’s hard being an athlete when it comes to speaking up. You’re taught from a young age to follow directions, be coachable, do what you’re told; don’t talk back, just do. So, when I was left out of The Paralympics, it was against my instincts as an athlete to speak out.
The Importance of Speaking Up and Fighting for Yourself.
Despite my discomfort, I knew speaking out was not only for myself and my ability to compete, but for the future of my disability class, my sport and many others out there who faced unjust discrimination. See, I wasn’t the first athlete to be excluded because of my disability, but I wanted to be the last. Many other athletes have faced similar situations, but it usually ends there. I wasn’t going to let that happen.
I loved myself enough to speak up for myself. I loved myself enough to speak up for change. I loved myself enough to have the confidence to speak up for the future of others.
While I had every conversation I could with those who could amend the rules, I got nowhere. They chose to hold firm in their decision to exclude me and my class from competing in the Games. Further, I never even received a defensible reason for the rule, and that was something I could not accept when it comes to disability exclusion.
With the help of my team at Octagon, we got to work. I hired a lawyer who advised me to hire a German lawyer, since the organization I was fighting was based in Germany. We started building a compelling case for me to compete. I also started sharing my story – my fight to compete – with the media. I posted about it on my social media. I wanted people to know that this was happening. It was a long and complicated process that felt like riding a rollercoaster; my hopes shot up and then with the same intensity crashed down, up and down, again and again. I did my best to focus one day at a time, one email at a time, one moment at a time, in order to protect my mental health.
We filed an Interim Injunction arguing that it was against German law to discriminate against me based on my disability, and in January of 2022, the court agreed! I had won the right to compete. This was a game-changer for me, and hopefully for the future of inclusive sports.
In March 2022, I competed in the Beijing Paralympics, in the more challenging LL2 class, and I won both a gold and bronze Paralympic medal.
I wouldn’t have been standing on the podium if I never stood up for myself. It’s difficult to love yourself when life gets hard. It’s difficult to speak out for yourself and others when you know it’s going to be an uphill battle. At the moment, it’s easier to accept our circumstances, but if we don’t love ourselves enough to try to make things better , it will only hurt more in the long run.
While I loved myself enough to speak out,I also needed to care for myself in the process. At times, my focus was on healing. I did more therapy sessions, shower bombs, journals, and face creams. I took time to try to heal the pain I was facing during this fight. I recharged and recovered in the downtime so I could stand up and fight the next day.
Self-Care in Overcoming Adversity
Self love is more than buying things that feel good or finding the next dopamine hit. Self love is doing things now that will better your future. Self love is speaking up for yourself. Self love is investing in healing and helping to get through the hard times. Self love is feeling low but taking time to be mindful and present, even when it’s uncomfortable.
I’ve only scratched the surface of my passion for disability representation and inclusion, and there is always more work to be done. I know I love myself enough to speak out and take care of myself in the process.
Speaking up and advocating for oneself is just one way to utilize self-love in the face of adversity, there are many other examples that can help us navigate challenging situations with resilience and empowerment.
More Ways to Practice Self-Love during Adversity
Feeling overwhelmed and stressed out: In these moments allowing yourself to step back and practice self-care, like taking a long bath, going for a walk, or just taking some quiet time to yourself. By giving yourself a break and prioritizing your own needs, you can start to feel more grounded, gain more clarity, and be better equipped to handle whatever challenges come your way.
Experiencing a setback or disappointment: In these moments when it feels too much to handle, focus on the things that you still have control over. Maybe that means setting new goals or taking small steps towards a larger objective. By focusing on what you can do, rather than what you can’t, you can start to feel more empowered and motivated to keep going.
Feeling lost and alone: In those moments where you don’t know where to turn self love could be seeking out the support and guidance of others. Whether it’s talking to a trusted friend or family member, reaching out to a professional, or even just doing some research online, there are always resources available to you. By asking for help when you need it, you can start to feel more confident and less alone.
Self-love is a powerful tool that can help us overcome adversity with resilience and empowerment. The GOLDEN formula provides a roadmap for cultivating self-love and navigating the toughest of times. When we love ourselves, we have the inner resources to handle any difficulty that comes our way. Remember, the GOLDEN formula is a powerful tool for navigating difficult times, and by following each step, you can live a Gold Medal Life. In the next post we will dive into the D:Determine our purpose and motivations. Now, take a breath, you deserve it.
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