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Happy sports girl

I will begin by quoting an Instagram post by Justin Bieber that was directed towards Simone Biles last year.

“Nobody will ever understand the pressures you face! I know we don’t know each other but I’m so proud of the decision to withdraw. It’s as simple as – what does it mean to gain the whole world but forfeit your soul. Sometimes our no’s are more powerful than our yes’s. When what you normally love starts to steal your joy it’s important we take a step back to evaluate why.”

Simone Biles, a very accomplished Olympic athlete with an astonishing 25 World Championship medals, announced on July 27, 2021, that she would have to exit the Olympic women’s gymnastics team final and all-around final to focus on her mental health. I could see from the video replay that her confused look during her pole vault jump was a moment of possible risk of tragedy and maybe paralysis from a fall.

Quitting or winning? It depends on how one views the importance of mental health and the courage to admit and face our inner most vulnerabilities. Simone Biles’ decision was not an easy one, especially when knowing what a disappointment this would be to herself, her team, and others, let alone the criticisms to come from social media.

Sport is about winning and losing. It is a place of highly respected competition. In her case; the highest level of competition. She, more than anyone, understands this extremely high level of respect for competition. The decision she made has no comparison or benchmark to anyone in the world, and thus no one can truly understand the difficulty of her decision. We know that there are very significant financial, emotional, physical, team, and mental ramifications. But we don’t know how else this decision affected Simone.

In this way, it is important for all of us to have some compassion for our own children and all that they are dealing with. Try to appreciate that they are not simply losers for quitting. Look at Simone Biles as a survivor and not a quitter.

Some such as Justin Bieber clearly admire and respect Simone’s decision and took the time to comment on Instagram with a comment that speaks volumes— “It’s as simple as – what does it mean to gain the whole world but forfeit your soul.” Others, however, are judgmental and extremely critical of her decision referring to it as quitting. Is it quitting when you know your strengths and weaknesses?

Or is that a strength? We are focused on success and to keep going no matter what. And although this serves many good purposes, it can also be a detriment to our young adults who feel they have no choice but to continue even at the expense of their mental health and well-being, thus seeing themselves as failures. Since when is it a failure to give it your all and recognize it’s time to move on, or just be safe and protect your body and mind?

It takes a good sense of self-esteem and self-reflection to be able to make a decision like Simone Biles did. She gave permission to athletes all over the world that it is okay to listen to your inner voice and not allow the pressure of the outside world dictate the outcome of your life and self-worth. She not only has amazing physical strength but an inner strength that should not go unnoticed.

At The Hellenic Therapy Center, 567 Park Avenue, Scotch Plains, New Jersey we offer individual and family therapy. You may visit us on Facebook or or call us at 908-322-0112.


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