Narratives of Young Women Athletes’ Experiences of Emotional Pain and Self-compassion
De Groot, Lindsay
Self-compassion is an adaptive way of relating to the self kindly when experiencing personal failure and difficult life experiences. However, there is little research in the area of self-compassion and sport even though recent investigation shows it might act as a potential buffer to painful emotions for athletes. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore and present narratives of six young women athletes (15-24 years) from a variety of sports, about their experiences of emotional pain associated with failure and the role of self-compassion. Each woman took part in two individual interviews, one of which involved reflexive photography. They were asked to reflect on a difficult experience with a personal percieved failure in sport, followed by discussions around the potential role of self-compassion in their experiences. The interviews, combined with reflexive photography, helped build a rich narrative organized around the following themes: (1) Broken bodies, wilted spirits, (2) Why couldn’t it have been someone else?, (3) I should have, I could have, I would have, (4) You are going to make me ugly over this and, (5) Fall down seven, stand up eight. Their narratives also suggested that self-compassion can potentially be beneficial for athletes if developed and learned properly. In addition, some women saw self-compassion as another tool athletes could use to help improve their mental game; something that might not be needed all the time, but could be very useful during specific situations. While self-compassion might buffer painful emotions experienced in sport, concerns were expressed that being too self-compassion may lead to mediocrity. Further research is needed on young women athletes' difficult emotional experiences in sport, and more specifically on the role that self-compassion plays as both a potential facilitator and barrier to emotional health and performance success in sport.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
SupervisorKowalski, Kent C.
CommitteeGyurcsik, Nancy C.; Poudrier, Jennifer D.
Copyright DateDecember 2011