Competition is a cornerstone of many pastimes for many people. Those in recovery may even find that engaging in a sport is a great way to express themselves and provides a safe space to divert their energy. While finding something that someone can put their energy into during recovery is very important, it is just as important to ensure that a sense of competition isn’t having a negative effect as well.
Competition toes a very thin line between positive expression and a detrimental mindset. For those in recovery, having a safe way to express themselves and stay physically and mentally active is important. As a result, looking at the benefits and potential downsides of each persons’ situation is paramount in analyzing the therapeutic effects of competitive sports on recovery.
Hearing phrases like “just suck it up,” “walk it off,” or “rub some dirt in it” are fairly common in the world of sports competition. As sports are physical activities overall, someone is bound to get some scrapes and bruises either from contact with another player or by the hazard of trips and falls. Being able to get back up and continue playing is something that is not just rewarded, but expected.
However, this expectation is something that can cause its own kind of problems. For someone in recovery, being a part of a community is very important. It is important to know that someone has a place where they belong and that there are other people who not just want someone to be there, but also rely on them for the sake of the team and a shared goal.
As a result, people may be less inclined to raise their voice when something goes awry as to not let down the community that they have worked so hard to be a part of. This denial of voice can set a dangerous precedent in someone’s recovery.
Just “suck it up” is a statement that stands in stark contrast to the idea of recovery. It is something that denies a person the ability to communicate vulnerability. Expressing these difficult feelings is something that is championed in recovery, especially during individual and group therapies.
Someone’s stresses and pains will always find a way out of the body, it is just the way that the stresses manifest that changes. Being confident in one’s self to express vulnerability is a huge stepping stone in addressing the root of the problems that plague someone, and a competitive mindset is something that may not always be conducive to this kind of necessary recovery.
The benefit of using sports as a way to be a part of a community and get someone’s mind and body moving has been established. However, sports can be much more than that. The idea of competition can be both a boon and a detriment to someone’s recovery, and it is up to the individual to determine how involved they want to be in their sport of choice and how that involvement affects them.
For some, competition is a driving force that constantly pushes them to better themselves. They can be constantly learning new techniques and improving their bodies and strategies both on the court and off. Practicing self-improvement is an action that can bleed over into the other aspects of recovery, as someone becomes more aware of where they are excelling and where they may need additional attention. This ability for self-reflection and self-assessment is important in acknowledging and addressing many aspects of one’s recovery.
However, for others, the constant comparison to other people can act more as a detriment. Constantly having to measure one’s worth against the others on the field can be debilitating as someone may not feel as if they can live up to others’ expectations. Compromising one’s own self-image and confidence also acts as a detriment to many other facets of recovery. Judging someone by their overall achievement rather than by their own personal growth can leave a person discouraged and continue to impact someone’s mental health and the way they see themselves.
Sport and competition are aspects of someone’s life that can greatly affect their path to recovery from addiction, both positively and negatively. Knowing what someone expects out of practicing a sport or joining a team can help in determining if that particular team, activity, or environment is beneficial for them and their goals, or if another venue may be more appropriate.
For those that thrive in these environments, sports and competition can be the perfect way for someone to push their own boundaries and express their own ambitions in their sober life. However, for others, the constant competition may prove to be a detriment as they may not wish to be measured against the skills of those around them, preferring to be addressed on a level of personal growth. Just like with many aspects of addiction recovery, setting expectations and goals in different scenarios can show which path may be more beneficial for each person.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, as well as any co-occurring mental health disorders, The Kimberly Center provides a place to start treatment and recovery. Each person’s path to recovery is different, the professionals at Kimberly Center pride themselves on listening to and addressing the specific goals and needs of each individual and help to instill the necessary life skills and coping mechanisms that work for each person. Providing care at all stages of recovery, from sober living to outpatient, The Kimberly Center can help match your needs with the appropriate level of care. For more information on the programs available for you, contact the Kimberly Center today at (855) 452-3683.