Mike's Mailbag: Improving Self-Esteem

Mike's Mailbag: Improving Self-Esteem

By Mike Gustafson//Contributor  | Monday, July 31, 2017

Every Monday, I answer questions from swimmers around the country. If you have a question, please email me at swimmingstories@gmail.com.


Dear Mike,

About 1 year ago I joined a a really good swim team. I entered power state level and am still there. But recently I have little kids better than me and it is lowering my self-esteem for swimming. What should I do?

-"Behind the Others"



Hey Behind The Others,


Recently, the World Championships concluded in Budapest. Swimmers competing there were once in the same situation you're now in: younger swimmers are getting faster, and it can be a frustrating experience.

Those swimmers who competed among the world’s best faced the same decision you're now facing: What to do about those pesky, fast younger swimmers?

The first step towards coming to a decision about what to do is realizing what you can't do. You can't control them from swimming fast. You can't make them slow down. You can't prevent them from working hard in practice and improving their turns and starts. You can't make them stop loving the sport.

In fact, you can't really do many things when it comes to making others swim slower.

So, what can you do?

You can keep worrying, agonizing, and letting others’ performances affect your own. You can lose sleep over it. You can think about your competitors to the point of obsession. You can feel angry, jealous, envious.

Or, you can just let it go. You can realize you can't control how fast anyone else swims, except yourself. You can focus only on your own swim performances, and your own swimming. And you can just swim as fast as you can swim. 

Obviously, there is no real decision here. No one wants to live a life feeling jealous or envious. So how do you stop worrying about those younger swimmers? How can you get back that self-esteem?

Once, I worried, like you, about faster swimmers. I always felt like I was monitoring someone else's performances. It's natural to feel this way, but it can also feel somewhat paralyzing. Then someone told me, “There will always be someone faster, eventually.” Once I heard that, most of my stress went away. Maybe for you, the prospect that there will always be someone faster doesn't make you feel better. But for me, it helped me just stop worrying. I stopped fretting about my teammates and friends and other nice people who lived near me who also happened to be fast at swimming. I stopped feeling so envious when someone else swam faster, because let's face it, someone will always be.

In other words, let go of that feeling like other people can determine your own happiness. While you can't control how fast someone else swims, you can control how fast you swim. If your self-esteem is affected by other people, stop worrying about other people.

I hope this helps. 



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