Rewriting Your Personal Derby Narrative

So, I’m going to be starting fresh meat with the Pile O’ Bones Derby Club here and for our first homework assignment we were asked to write down 20 negative things we say about ourselves, 40 awesome things about ourselves and 40 things we are grateful for.

Here’s 9 of the negative things I wrote down about myself for the first part of the exercise:

1. I’m a useless referee, always have been and always will be. I let my anxiety and emotions rule me, clouding my judgement and my ability to perform and I do more harm than good in that role. Once angry, upset or embarrassed, I’m a write off. I have no right to be out on that track, screwing events up for everybody else.

2. I’m a coward. I run from my problems and I don’t take any responsibility for my own thoughts and feelings.

3. I’m pathetic and weak. I waste so much of my potential sitting around and bitterly stewing about past hurts, no matter how small they may be. I place a lot of blame on others who I feel have wronged me in some way. Sweltering in anger at every single negative comment as if they were all these unforgivable personal attacks.

4. Why can’t I just grow the hell up, let go, get my crap together and move on?

5. I’m a selfish, downright terrible, friend. I keep pushing people away, isolating myself more and more from truly good people who care about me. I am so wrapped up in my own problems, my own little world, that I selfishly ignore those most important to me.

6. I’m a self-serving dick.

7. I’m so full of crap. I write about all of these large, self-reflective pieces on the dangers of burnout, not letting pride or envy get the better of you, etc. and yet I’m the worst for it all, constantly repeating the same crappy, unhealthy behavior habits and failing abysmally on doing what I need to so that it completely stops. I’m my own worse enemy and I deserve me.

8. I’m always focusing on the negative, living in the past, making myself a victim and not doing a damn thing to fix any of it. I’m a real lowly piece of crap…

9. I’m wasting my time blogging. Nobody cares about what I have to say, the Sask derby community thinks I’m a joke and I don’t blame them.

And this is where I stopped myself, because the reality is… that’s all bullshit! Well, that’s enough of that! I’ve had these thoughts and feelings in regards to roller derby for the better part of a year and it’s time to put my money where my mouth is and continue challenging these unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.

One of the many exercises my counselor showed me last year was how to rewrite my personal narrative. She first handed me a red pen and with a piece of paper in front of me she told me to write down everything that I felt had gone wrong in my life over the past several months, everything that upset me and everything I felt I failed at. Big or small, I jotted down whatever came to mind. She then handed me a blue pen and, on a a new sheet of paper, told me to write down everything that has gone well for me over the years, things that have made me happy and accomplishments I am proud of. Once both were finished we compared the two sides and it was painfully clear that I had MUCH more to be happy about and thankful for than I had to be upset, angry, stressed or depressed about.

It was a powerful exercise that caused me to break down in tears at the time, and yet, even with that tool, that gift, having been handed to me… I had not used it again since then. In the spirit of promoting the importance of self-care in both this sport and life in general, I decided it was time to revisit this particular technique. Here’s how it works:


How to Rewrite Your Inner Narrative

After finishing my fresh meat homework I opened up Powerpoint and began to lay out my negative and positive narrative with a focus on my involvement in roller derby. I made very sure to leave out any narrative that was not affected by my participation in the sport and just like the last time I used this exercise, my results spoke volumes.


Rewriting Your Story 01


If you were to do the same I’m sure you’d realize, much like I did, just how much of a waste it is to let a handful of ultimately insignificant negative experiences overshadow all of the positives that have come to you in roller derby. Worst yet, you’ll see just how much this negative narrative has held you back from reaching your true potential and how you have unknowingly used it to keep yourself from standing for something with TRUE conviction.

I get it. As you just saw, I did it too. People tend to focus on, even obsess over, their stresses, anxieties and negative experiences in life because many of us struggle with control (I know I do!). It sucks when things don’t work out. It’s upsetting when you fail. It doesn’t feel good knowing that somebody doesn’t like you or that people have been talking about you behind your back, but all of that only has power over you if you let it.

I’m not perfect (though I have unrealistically tried to be), I’ve made mistakes (and hated myself for them), I’ve failed at many goals (and have been jealous of those who achieved theirs) and I’ve said or done things that people have disagreed with (and took it to heart more than I should have), but rather than take those lessons, learn from them and move on I was creating this selfish narrative to victimize myself over some truly petty and trivial things.

So, a handful of people didn’t like what I was doing with the Best of Sask Roller Derby Votes and decided to let me know about how much they didn’t like it by making some disparaging remarks in blog comments, then another handful (perhaps the same people) filed a grievance to the SRDA about the blog. Cool, noted. However, I’m happy with all the positive exposure that the polls brought to leagues all across the province, I’ve learned from what did and didn’t work and I’ll organize it even better next year. Letting go and moving on!

An old derby friend publicly voiced some assumptions, accusations and insinuations about me that I felt were very derogatory… wait, didn’t I just have a private conversation with this individual not too long ago to express my feelings of discomfort with the friendship and to respectfully part ways? Yep, sure did! So, why am I even acknowledging their remarks? What will holding onto anger and bitterness over their statements do? Nothing! Letting go and moving on!

I now intend to do this exercise at least every two to three months going forward, depending on whether or not I feel I need to do it again sooner. I will use it to hold myself accountable for my own thoughts, reactions and feelings and I will not allow myself to fester in bitterness, self-pity and anger any more! Whether you’re a brand new skater or seasoned member of the derby community, I strongly recommend you try this personal narrative exercise for yourself as well!


Kevlar 2Written by Kevin ‘Kevlar’ Dennison

Taking each day in stride!

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5 comments

  1. This is exactly what this exercise was about Kevin! Changing our personal narrative and acknowledging the lies we tell ourselves that prevent us from getting and having more of what we want in our lives. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge!!!! The positive list and the grateful list serve as reminders of what our truth about ourselves actually is as well as a reminder of all the things that create joy, peace and fulfillment in our day to day that can give us energy everyday if we acknowledge them! This applies to derby in so many ways because we often talk ourselves out of doing things before we are even into it…and of course this applies to life. Thank you for taking the homework so seriously, I appreciate it!

    1. Absolutely! And thank you for the assignment! I always appreciate individuals who make self-care an important part of training and involvement with things. I know I’ve held myself back many times from great possibilities in roller derby, and in life, so it’s incredibly important to recognize what is encouraging that self-restraint. Gotta put a stop to it!

      Will see you after the May long!

      Kevlar

  2. This is a very awesome post. Thank you for writing it. Outside of derby, I’ve talked a lot about rewriting your life narrative and W.E.B. Du Bois’ idea of double consciousness. Sometimes I forget to apply those ideas to derby. Thank you for the reminder. Like you plan to do, I think I will do this exercise every few months, so I don’t get caught up in focusing on the hurtful things that people do. I am not defined by what those people think of me. And I think I’ll implement it into my coaching regime. Thanks, Kevlar! And thanks Pile O’Bones!

    1. Thank you for the comment Punchy O’Guts!

      Glad to hear you plan to apply the exercise to yourself in regards to roller derby as well. Especially in regards to your comment of: “so I don’t get caught up in focusing on the hurtful things that people do. I am not defined by what those people think of me.” I still catch myself allowing the opinions of others to have power over me and allowing that to spur negative self-talk, which in turn of course leads to self-defeating behaviors. I gotta keep on top of it too!

      I just took a look at your website and blog and I must say it is wonderful to see another writer promoting the importance of self-care and the power of positive and negative self-talk! I’ll be reading much more often!

      Kevlar

  3. This is a very awesome post. Thank you for writing it. Outside of derby, I talk a lot about rewriting your life narrative and W.E.B. Du Bois’ idea of double consciousness. Sometimes I forget to apply those ideas to my derby life. Thank you for the reminder. Like you plan to do, I think I will do this exercise every few months, so I don’t get caught up in focusing on the hurtful things that people do. And I think I’ll implement it into my coaching regime. Thanks, Kevlar! And thanks Pile O’Bones!

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