7 ways to forgive yourself (for the stupid shit you do) in roller derby

One exciting thing I haven’t mentioned is that I got pulled up to the travel team. It’s a huge honor.

I am U (deep, huh?). Photo by Frank Lavelle Photography.

I am U (deep, huh?). Photo by Frank Lavelle Photography.

With this change comes entirely new challenges. Oh, wait: No it doesn’t. It brings back the exact same challenges. As they say: Derby never gets easier, you just get better.

After scrimmage night this week (two one-hour scrimmages) I had a hard time sleeping. I kept waking up after having nightmares about not staying with my walls. I jolted up thinking about a track cut I got called on. Reliving my mistakes in my dreams.

I can think of times this happened to me in my equestrian career, in my journalism career (I almost fell off my bed once over a superfluous comma), in my friendships and now my derby career.

This happens — to me at least — all the f-ing time. I sometimes let regret or my mistakes eat me alive.

You know what’s really hard? Playing roller derby while you’re letting your regret eat you alive. Derby is hard enough without beating yourself up about things you can no longer control.

I know by talking to other skaters that you do this too. Especially you (98 percent of you) perfectionists (I’m reading a book that asked, “oh, you’re a perfectionist? What exactly are you perfect at.” Blam.). So I thought I’d list off how I work through it:

1. Read this article on jamnesia which focuses on forgiving yourself between jams.

She forgave my for low blocking the heck out of her. So I went to the box and worked on forgiving myself too. Why waste energy in the penalty box reliving the bad? That doesn't make you a better athlete. Visualizing how awesome you'll be next time make you a better athlete. Photo by Photos by Jolene.

She forgave my for low blocking the heck out of her. So I went to the box and worked on forgiving myself too. Why waste energy in the penalty box reliving the bad? That doesn’t make you a better athlete. Visualizing how awesome you’ll be next time make you a better athlete. Photo by Photos by Jolene.

2. That was the old you.
Every day I try to tell myself “I am on an upward trajectory and this is my starting point.” Whatever happened last scrimmage is what I learned from; not who I am. Today is the day I show who I am.

3. Without failing, you can’t learn
No matter who you are, you are learning to play roller derby. You are growing. You are allowed to fail. To fail means you tried something hard. Therefore, you are brave. Be proud of yourself.

4. Decide you will learn from it
If you’re beating yourself up about a mistake (not staying with your wall), maybe use that “beating yourself up” energy toward goal-setting instead. It’s not “I suck at this” it’s “next scrimmage my goal is to stay with my wall, no matter what.”

5. Talk it out
I think a lot of beating yourself up comes from a few things: harsh self-speak,ego/shame. By telling a friend, “I did not do a very good job at (sticking my my wall/whatever) tonight. It’s something I’m working on” it — for me anyway — takes away some of the shame and ego around the issue.

Often when I admit my faults to my teammates, they offer helpful advice and offer some more uplifting comments. Like, when I was still on fresh meat, I told someone, “ugh. I got two multi-players in that game. I have to work on that.” She said, “yeah, but you pulled your arms away at the exact right time about two dozen other moments in that game.” She also told me her strategies for not getting called for that penalty. She helped put it in perspective for me and made me feel good and less ashamed.

There are no secrets in derby. If you think you’re not doing a good job at something, there is no shame in voicing it and letting it off your chest. Your teammates are there to help you improve.

6. What you’re doing is unhealthy, unhelpful
Understand that beating yourself up for a track cut is unhealthy. Know it doesn’t make you a better skater (how many times have you seen a jammer get angry at herself for getting a penalty? She beats herself up in the penalty box and then she goes on the track with a full head of steam, and what happens? She goes right back to the box.). Making (achievable, ambitious) goals and finding ways to achieve them do make you a better skater.

Last summer I entered a skate competition and they put my in the "children under 4-feet-tall" division, based on skill. I tried my best, and ultimately gave myself permission to suck. Because it's OK to suck at things you're still learning. Photo by Dawn Reese.

Last summer I entered a skate competition and they put my in the “children under 4-feet-tall” division, based on skill. I tried my best, and ultimately gave myself permission to suck. Because it’s OK to suck at things you’re still learning. Photo by Dawn Reese.

7. Forgive yourself
For me, I actually whisper it out loud to myself, sometimes in a practice. I say, “I’m going to forgive myself for that one.” And then I try my best to learn from it and let it go.

We all talk to ourselves in our minds all the time. Why is it so easy for us to be kind to other skaters who are learning, but not ourselves? I don’t know, but I try to use that by sometimes trying to dissociate. I pretend that in-my-head Dash is teaching on-skates Dash to skate. I try to talk to myself like I’m teaching this girl to play derby and she is trying her best. Is it crazy? Yes. Does it work? For me, yes.
You have enough blockers trying to beat you up on the track to also beat yourself up.

Please, add your coping mechanisms in the comments.

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About hsteeves

Hard Dash
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5 Responses to 7 ways to forgive yourself (for the stupid shit you do) in roller derby

  1. Christina Fontecchio (Mafia Mistress) Rocketeer Rollers, Santa Maria, CA says:

    You always have to push forward and just learn from your mistakes, but move on from them, don’t let them take you down. You agree you screwed up and you commit to going out and changing and doing something positive. You have to say out of the FUNK or you won’t gain a thing. Remember, no pain, no gain! Focus on the GAIN! Mafia

  2. Yes! What a JOY to be a member of a supportive team !!!!!
    Forgiveness and Gratitude: Willingness~ Commitment~Growth
    Remember: Your CHOICE:o)
    “There is nothing right or wrong, only thinking makes it so”
    (Hamlet)

  3. Congrats on making the travel team! And great tips too- all really important and your blog is wonderful as usual!

  4. Pingback: Preparing for roller derby fresh meat tryouts | The Dashboard

  5. Pingback: One year in, what’s coming to HardDash.com | The Dashboard

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