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Updated: Apr 10

Get clear on your YESes and NOs

You were doing well until someone passed you in a race, stole the ball, or dumped some cheap words about you on social media. When I hear athlete's tell of not being able to find that extra push, or repeatedly surrendering, or getting down on themselves when the going gets tough--I know it's time to get clear on your YESes and NOs.

Your YESes and NOs to other people are how you set limits.

"NO, you can't come in my room," "YES, you can play with us." The sign on your bedroom door or tree fort as a kid gave you a sense of personal power and control, and helped you carve out your identity in the tribe. Athletes need to do the same thing in competition, but the arena is often where they give away their power. When it happens repeatedly, this becomes the new identity, and it's a bitter pill to swallow.

A person who lets the actions of others affect how they feel about themselves is saying YES to giving their power away. A person who doesn't let someone beat them easily, or take up real estate in their head,

is saying, NO, you don't get to do that.

It takes true bravery to stand in your power and not give it away. Unlike human virtues of humor or kindness or curiosity--which can be all unicorns and rainbows while you're doing them--bravery is that strength that DOESN'T feel like that. Think saving a baby from a burning building, or telling someone you're sorry. Those are hard and difficult experiences to endure. The thing is...bravery only feels good AFTER you've done it.

Think about a time when you were brave. Break that down into 3 parts: Before you did it, while you were doing it, and after you did it. The before was full of terrifying doubt, the during was scary and intense, and the after was full of all the good feelings: relief, joy, exhilaration, pride.

For me, this is a big part of mental toughness--nailing down your YESes and NOs and bravely standing strong in them. "Can someone compete by your side and push you to a great performance?" YES. Can someone box you in, foul you, outkick you, dis you on social? They might, but NO you won't take it or make it easy for them.

It takes bravery to stand in your power.

It takes bravery to not give your power away.

This I call STANDING IN YOUR POWER. When you are strong in your power, you don't lose yourself to others. You actually show up. You step into yourself--in your own room--ruling the fort.


Make a YES list of what opponents can do to you.

ie, push you to a good performance, be confident around you, do their best...

Make a NO list of what they can NOT do to you or get away with easily.

ie, Get too far ahead of you, trash-talk you, overcome you without a fight, take up space in your head...

Meg Waldron has her MS in Sport Psychology and is a Mental Performance Coach.

She brings her background in teaching, sport coaching, massage therapy, fitness training,

and experience as an All-American and D1 athlete to her practice.

Meg Waldron has her Masters in Sport Psychology and works with athletes to help them recover joy in success in sport. A long-time sport coach, Meg was a high school All-American track athlete and competed full scholarship in college. She brings 14 years of school teaching to her work.

Photo credit: Kiana Bosman

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