Stop idealizing others

Idealization

Idealization is a mental process of attributing overly positive qualities to another person or thing. This happens mainly because you are unaware of others defaults or because you just don’t see how imperfect these people can be.

To me, it is strongly linked to the knowledge you have of yourself. It is important to have an accurate knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses and, in the same process, it will allow you to have a better understanding of others qualities and imperfections.

Devaluation

On the other side of the spectrum, we have devaluation. It’s used when a person attributes themselves, an object, or another person as completely flawed, worthless, or as having negative qualities.

It can be more or less pronounced depending on the athlete.

From overcautious to pretentious – exploring the whole spectrum

I know athletes that are over-confident, thus suffering from not acknowledging their weaknesses (and only seeing their strengths). This lead to a lack of improvement due to not taking the necessary actions required for evolution and not “seeing well” where they stand on the evolution process.

I also know other athletes that devaluate themselves and because of that, they are not even aware of the great things they can accomplish.

It is very surprising to talk to them: from an external point of view, you can perceive their potential (it’s just right there, in front of your eyes) but the athlete himself/herself is not capable of seeing it. Generally, the athlete would perform the way he/she perceive himself/herself and so, at a much lower level than his/her actual potential.

A common doubt among athletes

When it comes to competitions and trainings, it is interesting to see what happens when athletes interact with each other.

Even though it is often not expressed in a extreme way, it is common to see athletes idealize their competitors and placing them on a pedestal.

Very often, even confident athletes can find themselves idealizing others. As a result, they would put themselves down. They would compare themselves negatively and devaluate themselves.

I recently led a survey among athletes from different sports and different countries, and many of them shared this exact same doubt. For them, this will happen regularly during competitions and important events. Even if that is not a rule, we can say that it is a common matter among athletes.

Finding the right balance to get confident

You can be confident and have humility without putting yourself down. Actually, to perform well, you need to find the right balance.

Most of the time, the first doubt is created by a feeling of imperfection in the training. But even though some have trained very hard to get to where they are, they have the tendency to think that the competitor is better than themselves or that he/she has a better training or environment.

A good way to counteract this behaviour is by reinforcing confidence in a practical way, one step after the other:

1st: by having a precise plan of action, a good training plan. If you don’t have one, you cannot feel really confident at the end. So have a plan, and a good one. A good mental & physical plan together is key here.

2nd: by taking action consistently, by having a routine and following the plan carefully.

3rd: by having faith in your plan. To simply trust it and believe in it. Confidence is build, it’s a process, you build it brick after brick and faith is a big part of it. 

And finally: Awareness. Basically, you can just be aware that idealizing others is a common behaviour and that you are not alone in that boat. Realize that others share the same doubt. So, if everybody think that, make sure that you don’t.