I’m Alexandra Dulgheru and I have been playing tennis since I was 5, becoming thus a very big part of me. I would like to share some of my experience to show you another face of life, the one of a professional athlete. I think there are plenty of issues that could resonate with many of us, regardless of the profession we have, some of which I suppose we are not even aware of.
Life in general is a complexity of senses embedded in matter and each of us lives their existence on this earth differently. Being unique, we create our own personal worlds, but I think we all have a base of principles after which we guide ourselves. Whether we are professors, corporates, artists, doctors, athletes, etc, we all want to grow up as human beings. To keep on learning as long as we live, to be happy, to live well and to find that balance with ourselves and with those around us.
My path in life has gone in the direction of the professional sport and I am happy to have chosen and follow my childhood dream. I am saying this because I’ve lived a rainbow of moments. So different, complex, tough but also beautiful, strange, surreal, shaping me in who I am today.
I have gone through the process called life, and I’m glad I had and still have a lot to learn.
What is the link between movement, mental and the emotional side in the lives of athletes and people in general? … It is the connection bridge towards the therapy we constantly need in order to maintain an inner balance.
In pro sports, it is important to grow from all points of view. That’s why it is a great challenge, paved by a long, pretentious, hard road, packed by routine. It constantly demands for things to be done in order to make progress. From an uninterrupted disciplined program that we need to respect from a young age, to the physical, technical, mental, and last but not least, squeezed between all of this, our training as regular people, besides that of a sportsman. That is why keeping that balance is the magic ingredient to be able to perform in this area.
Mental in sports is the most important spice, but first of all it goes hand in hand with the physical state and after that, with all other profiles, to yield. What also counts in this context is each one’s will, that inner desire to succeed and to be better every day. But do not misunderstand that the mind is the only one responsible, or the only engine we need to rely on. It needs help like any other part of the body that needs care and attention.
For example, in my case, in my career so far, I’ve been injured quite often and had to literally restart from zero 3 or 4 times after many surgeries. I have experienced enough moments of confusion, pain, discrepancy between the amount of effort involved to come back on tour each time and the rewards that came afterwards. I have shown myself that I can be good and competitive further on, to retake my rightful place, but every time I finally managed to get up there, it came with an important price …. other injuries, surgeries …. other starts from scratch. I tell you all this because I want to highlight some important issues that I learnt through my personal experience.
In our everyday life, the mind and the emotional are linked together like shoulder to the arm.
If emotionally we have issues, the mind can not carry the fight forever. More even, when I gathered too much emotional stress and I was not careful about the signals my body gave me, I collected problems like bubbles in a bottle of shaken champagne. In tense moments during the game, when the mind was overwhelmed, the bottle stopper gushed like a cheerful student at the end hours on a Friday. I felt that there were personal unsolved issues that were pressing me pretty much and in important moments mostly, they were influencing my field. In vain, we train those forehands and backhands, serves, if we do not pay a little attention to also train the psycho-emotional side. This is true for all sports people in general. The emotional also needs to be expressed, understood, satisfied. Often, this one exercise means more than hours of hitting the ball on a tennis court.
In my case, repeated injuries and physical limitations did not allow me to put into practice what I was planning on many times and then there were important imbalances inside me. When I started to understand how beneficial is to press the pause button sometimes, to listen to what my body asks for and to take care of me, it was a relief. I had a lot to gain by doing less, charging the batteries mentally and physically. I was teaming with myself. Many believe that if they ask for help, they are weak. If they go to a psychologist to have therapy, they have problems. The psychologist is often confused with a psychiatrist. We need psychology all our lives. A psychologist can be a certified person, a grandfather which gives us some wise advice, friends who bounce us through simple but magical words and so on… We all need therapy.
The same thing happens in performance sports. Most top players are working with psychologists. Why? Why would they need it if they already are so strong and so good?! Well, just because they want to be the best in what they do. They want to know each other better, to understand and accept things that are to happen. To reinvent, to progress and, above all, to live in a balance.
There is not such a big difference in everyday life either. There is a continuous fight in every field, as in sports. Only that in sports everything is exaggerated, driven to extremes in all its aspects because of the competition. We need to perform at our best as much as possible. In tennis we understand that we need a balance in everything we do just as air … between body, mind, emotions, feelings.
For all those who are not involved in a performance sport, I warmly encourage you all to make movement through dance, sports or any other kind, because it really keeps your mind airy, active and productive, in a healthy body. The beauty in this story is that you are doing a natural therapy, accessible anytime!
No one is a robot, not even in sports. The inner power comes with the acceptance of everything we are, all the cumulative states, thoughts, needs, feelings, etc., that shape us and with the understanding that it is important to work with ourselves, as we do with other activities in our lives.
May the force be with you!
It depends mostly on how we choose to live, move through life.
I’m moving, dancing and walking through nature!
What moves you?