Having been watching as much Olympic coverage as you can when you have such a time difference between the UK and Canada, I have become fascinated in Olympians tales of their struggles and inspiration…

According to reports, China’s figure skating coach experienced an incredibly “humiliating” performance from his own past to motivate him to provide the best training possible for future Chinese Olympic hopefuls. An American speed skater was bullied and victimised so dreadfully as a youngster that he needed medication for depression; in 2004 he was nearly killed in a skating accident that ripped open a leg. These incidents drove to him and now he’s competing in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. When I watched highlights of the biathlon, one chap who was expected to do well but did not win, expressed his determination to overcome his loss with the simple phrase (when interviewed) “next time.”

Throughout history, there are many, many Olympic contenders who overcame adversity or who bounced back after injuries, disappointing losses, or real tough life tragedy. Their amazing stories have kept me doing all I can to tune in to the Olympic coverage and highlights.

What is most interesting, is the Olympians’ ability to use pain as a resource and motivator. In therapy in general, modern therapists generally do not like to employ fear, fire and brimstone into procedings, so it is interesting to note that olympians are so massively driven by negative experience.

Successful athletes cultivate a mindset that can turn even failure and tragedy into motivation and inspiration. A beloved relative dies -“I’m dedictaed and driven by their death.” A skier falls and drops out of a medal place -“I know where I went wrong and what I need to change.” A team member suffers an injury-“We are dedicating our performance to her.” I even ran London marathon one year in memory of my Grandparents passing away.

Outside of the sports environment, many people making successful changes in their lives seem to share elements of this mindset. I have encountered people who changed destructive habits because they were able to use pain, tragedy, or humiliation to inspire their change.

I bet you know people like that too, don’t you?

Not everyone can be an Olympian, but everyone can develop an Olympian mindset that enables them to bounce back from setbacks, learn from them, and solve life’s problems more creatively. It is not always as easy as this makes it sound, but it can be done.

I am not a strong believer in the idea that “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” (Apologies to rap artists everywhere espousing this notion). There are traumas, tragedies, and other blows in life that put even the best down for the count. But when it comes to pain that you’ve created yourself through destructive habits, consider ways in which you can use that pain as a resource!