I love sports. I love them because they are the epitome of human endurance. They exemplify mental toughness and the struggle to overcome our inner battles. Athletes are warriors. They’re battlers and I really dig people that develop their inner fighter. They have something to prove. They have the eye of the tiger, that, I’ll show you, chip on their shoulder. To me those people are more capable of greatness than any other.
There is nothing I love more, or that I can identify with more, than being in an incredible amount of pain, having everything against you and having every molecule in your body screaming at you to stop and then somehow, some way, you find the strength to continue and fight on.
To me, sports are all about love and romance, history and passion, attitude and humility, agony and glory, preparation and swagger, sacrifice and commitment, fear and courage. Sports play out better than any romance novel ever could. Sports are about overcoming adversity. They are about being challenged and meeting that challenge head on.
Two time Olympic gold medal winner and Stanley Cup winning coach, Mike Babcock likes adversity. Babcock, consider by most to be the greatest active coach in the NHL, believes that teams that struggle early on are better equipped to deal with the hardships they will face throughout the season.
“I have been coaching a long time. I’ve been around championship teams and every championship team I have been involved with goes through adversity,” Babcock said. “What you do is embrace adversity and it allows you to get better. Without it, you never win in the end.”
What Babcock means is that when we face adversity it gives us the opportunity to find out who we really are. When we face it, it allows us to make adjustments and get better. When people just waltz through life and everything always comes up roses, you never develop the ability, or the courage to look at those dark places and find the will to dig deep. When we face adversity and find a way to overcome it, that experience gives us confidence and a belief that there is nothing that life can throw at us that we can’t handle.
In addition, sports show us the immense power we have over our own minds. I have watched hockey players take a puck to the face and leave a few of their teeth on the ice and one or two shifts later, they’re stitched up and back on the ice. Can you imagine the inner battle that is going on in the heads of those athletes? Fighting through the pain. It’s all about the power of mind over matter.
Any runner will tell you that within the first few minutes of every run their body is begging them to stop. Fighting through the pain exemplifies the power we have within ourselves. Those that achieve have gained mastery over their inner voice and use that mastery in all aspects of their lives. When we experience emotional pain we have that same ability to fight through that pain.
The road to the NFL didn’t come easy to our cover model, Clay Matthews. Colleges weren’t beating a path to his door looking to hand out a football scholarship. In fact, only a couple of community colleges gave him a look, but not one tier 1 school gave him any thought. His younger brother was given a scholarship to Oregon State, but not him. He was small in high school, a late bloomer. What did he do? He went to USC and made the practice squad as a walk on. In his third year he was bumped up to the special teams squad. In his senior year, a starter went down to injury and he got his chance. Once given the opportunity he never looked back. The Green Bay Packers moved up in the draft to select him and now in his 7 years with the Packers, he is a Super Bowl Champion and has made the Pro Bowl 6 out of 7 years in the NFL. What they say of Matthews is that he plays with that chip on his shoulder and that he has never forgotten all those people who passed him by and didn’t believe in him. He exemplifies the ‘I’ll show you,’ attitude. Oh and what happened to his little brother who got the scholarship? He got drafted by the Eagles and after a few unsuccessful years was released.
That attitude isn’t exclusive to athletes. One of my favorite authors, the late, Wayne Dyer grew up in and out of foster homes, because his father had left the family when he was very young. Dyer talked about his struggles early in his life and how he battled with his father’s abandonment. He said that he finally was able to find forgiveness after finding his father’s grave and sitting down and having a conversation right there by his tombstone. Dyer started life with less than most of us have. He carried around a ton of baggage that didn’t belong to him. But all of these inner struggles gave him something that a life of privilege never could – it gave him the will he needed to succeed.
In the biography, The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, written by Alice Schroeder, Buffet disclosed the hell he and his older sister had to endure at the hands of their mother. He revealed that his mother would repeatedly yell and verbally abuse them until they wept. He admitted that he did not have much of a relationship with his mother as he grew older, but some would argue that the adversity he faced, early in life, gave him the edge he needed to be better and smarter than everyone else in the world of finance.
When we are faced with adversity we have two choices, we can get crushed under the weight of what happened to us, or we can shove it off, get that chip on our shoulder and say, ‘I’ll show you.’ When my Narcissist ex tossed me aside for another woman, I begged for death, but as I have grown and walked further down my path, I now look at all of the things that happened to me, all the pain, all the heartache, the struggles , the storms, and the obstacles – I look at them all with gratitude. Because of them – not despite them, but because of them – I realized that I am a warrior. I am a fighter. I’ve got some edge to me. I don’t look to anyone for permission or gratification. I take what is mine. I am strong. I am unbreakable. I am self-made. All of it because there were people that wanted to impose their will on me.
When you have to fight and claw your way through life, you will find that which is indestructible in you. When everything is handed to you – not only do you not appreciate success, you also don’t know how to deal with adversity when it comes. Don’t believe me – ask Paris Hilton. It’s time you embraced your inner warrior and showed all of those people that hurt you exactly what you’re made of.
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This may seem contrite and I know this is an older post but there was a saying years ago that said. “Living well is the best revenge!” I believe this speak to this column. push through, be your best. LIVE WELL! Show those that tried to use you or put you down that you can live without them and successfully.
After reading this article and comments, i realize how grateful i am for my adversities on life. I was married and a stay at home mom. I was very unhappy but i never had one worry about money. My kids had a lot of things as kids do today. We lived in a suburb where every family went on vacation at least once a year
After my divorce when my kids were 9 and 11 money was extremely tight. I went back to work but after an 8 year hiatus, i found myself in a very low paying job. But the fact that i had to day no to my kids asking for things was good for them. And boy could i relate to other single mom’s struggling. I appreciate my good paying job now and being able to pay my bills on time and providing a good home. I’m so proud of myself.
Now i have to pull myself out of this depression i am in after my N relationship. I know overcoming this too will build character and strength as well. I hate that my daughters saw me go through the n relationship. I worry they see me as weak, but i know i need to find the strength to get my life together and show them the victory after adversity. It is so hard to get past the feeling of foolishness. The BS you accepted and the mistreatment i took for so long. I’m trying very hard to change my attitude and to not accept defeat.
As they say success is the best revenge. Not that i want revenge. Lol
I enjoyed reading the comments and spirited perspectives expressed by everyone. I appreciate and always learn from hearing viewpoints different from what mine might be. I especially liked reading Elileen’s comment and Savannah’s response. I too have struggled with Eileen’s dilemma–am I the strong person I am today DESPITE the adversity I have faced, or BECAUSE of it? For me I guess it’s a little of both.
I have a couple of friends who got married right out of high school, and stayed married. (We are in our 40’s now). Both of them seem reasonably content, but I wouldn’t say their lives are joy filled, passionate or full of purpose. They have never experienced devastating loss or heartbreak, so they also haven’t experienced the exhilaration and accomplishment that comes from overcoming those losses. They don’t seem to be particularly grateful or appreciative of what they have (stability, family etc) they just seem to be going through the motions of life. They aren’t bad people at all, but they certainly wouldn’t be the first people I would go to for advice or comfort during a challenge though. It would be difficult for them to relate to or comprehend because even though they might mean well, they wouldn’t have the foggiest idea what I was going through.
I believe that adversity (when dealt with properly) can do a couple of very important things: first, it increases your compassion a lot, your ability to really care for other people along with a desire to help them heal. Second, it increases your gratitude for what you DO have. You notice the joy in your life so much more after experiencing the pain.
However, I also want to believe people can learn the same lessons through the joy and love they have been shown and pass that on to others. Notice I said I ‘want to believe’ that, not that I am sure this can happen. The most joy filled people I know have all experienced some sort of loss. It almost seems impossible to truly value what you have unless you have experienced it’s absence. Go without air conditioning in your car for a couple weeks in the summer, and you will get my point. 🙂
So my philosophy is this: it’s not your fault you got screwed up or screwed over, but it IS your fault if you stay that way. What you choose to DO with what happened to you is up to you. Make it great!
One word: “Character”. All of us that have been through challenges now have it and the only way to get it is to earn it, right? There should be a Scout badge for that….
I keep reading every day as i cannot fall back into missing him. My N never did a disappearing act or blew hot and cold as I’ve read others have. As a matter of fact he was very smothering. We would always argue that i didn’t love him enough. In the beginning he said i made him feel like a man. He actually said he needed me. I’ve never heard that before and it so worked on me.
He never blew cold but if i wasn’t providing the supply he needed he would ramp up the harem. Always tell me i was being insecure and jealous. He had a 20 year relationship with a woman 25 years older than him. She idolized him. He told me she would actually be jumping up and down when he would arrive to see her. She knew about his wife during 12 of the years they were in this relationship. And she finally learned about me even though he tried to hide me from her. She accepted crumbs from him. He took lots of money from her after his divorce. It was so sad.
He was married for 17 years. Had relationship with his elderly “friend” for 20 years and me for 8 years. He is capable of long term relationships because i believe he is highly skilled at choosing women and them highly skilled at brainwashing them.
I say all this because i have struggled with rather or not he is an N because he didn’t blow hot and cold and didn’t disappear. But I’ve come to realize, yes he is an N just a slightly different variety. They aren’t cookie cutter, they’re are different types and behaviors.
This adversity article is just what i needed. I came here when i goggled male and female friendships. He had a harem no doubt. And constantly on look out for new supply. I’m rebuilding my life now. Realize what i need to do to grow. And to never be in this position again. I will admit i positively do not love him in any way shape or form. But I’m still vulnerable to the brainwashing. So no contact is the only way. Always. Love to u Sav. I’ve never been more grateful to anyone in my life.
It is hard to admit as some here have that I too am gullible and susceptible to narcissistic manipulation. It does not matter how long you have gone to school, or how high your IQ is or isn’t. As always good advice.
Great article Savanah
As an ex sportswoman who was often in the position of being nearly beaten, only to come back and win.. This reference gives me more hope and courage to get through my current challenges…
Well said!!!! It is a glorious turning point when we can look at the adversity as a blessing! For all of you reading in your early stages of No Contact, Confusion and Grief I say stay strong, keep reading, take care of you. That moment when you see the blessing in the adversity gives you a extra huge burst of YES I got this!! I am enough!!!! Thank you Savannah!!!
I never leave comments I usually am the silent reader but this really hit me. I have been through so much my entire life. Both my parents were addicted to drugs I raised myself and my siblings since I was 12 had a child of my own at 16 all while managing school, work, and what we called home. I worked hard and fought hard and refused to end up like my parents. I know I am a psychically strong woman but I fell in love with a Narc and all my strength weakened. I don’t even recognize myself anymore. He controls me, plays these games with me and I try to break free but I don’t know how. He does this thing when it seems he’s lost me where he acts like he cares and gets sensitive but i don’t believe it one bit. I promised myself that 2016 would be different and I appreciate the support of everyone here.
My Father was “Old Scheool”. He often told me when I was growing up that if you cry, you cry alone. He never said “I love You” because that was again a sign of weakness. At the end of his life I taught him that it was okay to say “I love You” and to cry, and he did every time I saw him. He realized that he gave the bad advice that he was given, but he made me strong. I learned to “carry on”. Before he died he told me that he’d done his job. He’d given me a “Fighting Heart” and that was his legacy to me.
Forgot to mention that two influences have been instrumental in my surviving this divorce intact: my counselor and your blog. Simply cannot thank you enough!
Can’t that struggle affect people in different ways? My father, my ex, and (to an extent) my mother all faced serious difficulties growing up, and they became self-centered, condescending, and manipulative. Is it the fact that my difficulties didn’t really begin until I was a teenager that gave me some grounding in myself that enabled me to not succumb (eventually — There were moments. . .) to their insistence that they always knew the best way to do everything, and it was definitely not the way that I was doing it? They developed very unhealthy narcissism, and I developed self-awareness and self-confidence. Is there some other psychological component at work?
I agree. I don’t think that adversity on it’s own can shape a person. As a highly-sensitive child I was groomed to be bullied for most of my life. That certainly didn’t give me the will to succeed, although my innate stubborness helped me to continue to forge the life that I wanted. Even so, I was buffeted all over the place by people who knew how to manipulate. It took me sixty years before I finally realised that I needed to change myself to stop others from using me. It took a great deal of hard work with the help of a fantastic counsellor, plus several years of working out what happened to me, to be able to gain the critical thinking to be able to become a whole person. To say that adversity shaped me, I find a bit of an insult. I have friends who have their full marbles from an upbringing that has nurtured them, and enabled them to reach for their ambitions in a balanced way. Yes, I got there in the end, but a good forty years after everyone else, and I found myself, but sixty years after everyone else.
Sorry about the rant, but I don’t like the tone of this post, and although I did get to where I wanted to eventually, it was despite the adversity, not because of it.
I don’t think I said adversity on its own shapes a person. I’m pretty sure the implication here is that adversity provides that extra edge. My hope in writing a post like this is to encourage people who feel like they’ve had nothing but adverse experiences that they are the ones who possess strength and will greater than those who have never experienced hardship.
I’m sorry you don’t like the ‘tone’ of my post. You should probably reread it if you got a ‘tone’ from it. I don’t like the ‘tone’ of your rant and I’d wager that your moxie comes from the adversity you have faced, not despite it.
@Savannah…I apologise unreservedly for saying that about the tone of your post. I really don’t know why I said that but it was wrong of me and I’m very sorry.
I was very angry when I read your post last night, but now that I’ve slept on it and re-read your post, I’ve been able to think about why I was so upset. I can’t put it into words yet, but it’s something that I’m starting to put my finger on.
I had to google the word moxey, lol, and I’m flattered. You’re most probably right that it does come from my adversity. I come from a family whose motto is to play it safe and keep your head down. Well, I’ve never been able to play it safe and if anyone’s going to stick their head above the trenches, then it’s me!
Again, my apologies for the ‘tone’ of my comments. Friends? 🙂
Eileen: Hahaha of course. I told you girl, I dig people with an edge.
What sports teaches us is that we can’t always listen to our minds. We are programmed to resist pain and seek comfort, which makes sense. But when it comes to breaking with a narcissist, we have to learn to ignore these messages. Because we are conditioned to life with a narcissist, we are to some extent addicted to the (occasional) positive strokes he or she gives us. Even when our more rational selves know that these positives are far outweighed by pain and abuse, we resist breaking with the narcissist because we have to give up the positive stimuli we are accustomed to. We also have to give up an idealized vision of who they are, our future together, etc. (all of which is built up during the early honeymoon or “overvaluation” stage with narcissists).
Making up our minds to break with them is like making up our minds to finish that long run or do the extra 25 sit-ups or the extra half hour of yoga or whatever it is we want to do. Our minds tell us “no there is too much pain, you can’t do it, don’t try.” We have to learn to ignore that. Our minds tell us in the early days of NC that we will die, that we cannot live without the N in our lives. We have to learn to ignore that. Learning to face the discomfort, to hear the “give up” message and ignore it, that’s what we can learn from hard training for sports, and from great athletes who push themselves to great achievements.
Besides knowing we are stronger than we think, surviving early NC and completing the break with the narcissist give us something else, something that some athletes have but many cannot afford to have. We have empathy. We can become “wounded healers,” people who identify with others in pain and help them through because we know all about it. We have credibility when we say “I know you think you are dying but you are not. You are actually getting stronger.”
To be survivors and warriors is great. But we have a chance to be warriors with open and loving hearts, which is also an amazing thing. Clay Matthews is a great athlete. Many other athletes with that chip on the shoulder are too. But you are a great healer, Savannah. If we gave MVP trophies and super bowl rings for what really matters you would have a couple of each.
Aw-shucks HC. You sure know what to say to a girl…who’s a massive football fanatic – LOL. Sorry about your Patriots.
Right on Savannah!! When I was working a full-time job, part-time job 16 hours every other weekend and going to school full-time, people would ask me how do I do it? You just put your nose to the grindstone and keep on, keeping on!! Going through a divorce while in nursing school, never missed a day of school or work or gave up…not once!! Because I would not let my very mentally unhealthy, unhappy husband hold me back, so I divorced him.He tried calling me,ripping up my clothes, photos, and putting our daughter in the middle(which has led to a lot of issues she still deals with today!) But I survived, WHY??? Because I am a survivor. Now I am helping other women in relationships with Narcs, get out, no contact and be strong and move on!!Some of my friends scoff at the idea of “Narcs” but those who don’t and really listen, I send them here to your website.
I am enough. See how it is true , believe it. Then say it. See the proof all the time
Very well said!!!!!!!! I am more than a survivor; I am a warrior. My adversity made me who I am, and I like where I am. And I have the strength and courage to get beyond where I am, to seek out what I want and to attain it. Wow. Great article.
I am enough. (Say it aloud) I am enough! (Shout it!). Then believe it!