The Evolution of Belief: A Look Back

 
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On Friday, I'm headed out to Colorado to spend the weekend with women in coaching - at one of USA Swimming's Women's Leadership Summits. I'm humbled by the opportunity to present - and am really looking forward to spending time with women who are in the coaching arena every day.

To hear their stories. To see them. 

To learn and grow alongside of them.

Coaches have so much power in our lives.

Their words can help to cultivate curiosity, belief and resilience. And. Their words can wound - opening us up to shame.

All of it true.

I'm reminded of this daily as my girls are now in the sporting arena. 

As I was pulling pictures out for my presentation, I came across this post from 2016. If you watched my TEDx, I referred to this moment. It came on the heels of a 2016 Olympian sharing -on an NBC broadcast during the Olympic coverage - that I inspired her.

Can I be honest?

I didn't believe it - despite my phone blowing up with text messages. 

I truly didn't believe it.

The inner critic roared - telling me the 3 x Olympian mixed me up with someone else. Even when my brother sent me a video recording of it. 

That's how our beliefs work:

We see what we believe.

And in that moment - faced with the text messages and video footage - I was confronted with information that did not jive with my belief. Complete cognitive dissonance.

I wasn't worthy of the title Olympian. I was just a relay swimmer. I was a fraud. 

No longer fit.

I'm so grateful for that moment. For those calls. And texts.

And more than anything - for making an impact - and inspiring a little girl. 

I'm not stopping now. 

Because, inside each of us is that little girl. 

She is you.

~

Here's what I wrote that night under the picture: 

I did not expect to be sharing this tonight, but here I am... The ultimate dichotomy... 

This moment took my breath away tonight – and I am still a bit numb. The three bigs and I decided that we would go through the tubs of ‘stuff’ that my mom dropped off the last time she was here. Stuff that had been sitting in her basement for years… Hang with me, this gets intense. 

To steal words from Glennon Doyle Melton, I usually don’t write when I’m in the middle of a storm – I usually write and share with you when I’m back in the port.

Tonight, I am writing to you – still a bit numb from what I found in those tubs. 

As the girls played dress up – and dug through the bins of medals, suits, letters, and gear, I started reading through my old log books. The words I found inside of it completely took my breath away…

From the outside looking in, you might imagine that an 18-year-old girl who has just made the Olympic team would be writing inspirational, euphoric, uplifting notes – riding a high of sorts.

What I read was painful and horrific – a mother’s worst nightmare for her daughter

I was reading the journal of my 18 year-old-self who’s mind had been completely taken over by ED – the relentless, manipulative, nasty monster who constantly tore me down – especially when it came to food, body image and weight.

I wasn’t writing to myself – ED was in complete control.

I sit here tonight, in complete awe that my body was able to perform at such a high level with a hijacked mind.

Days after winning a gold medal – ED was telling me not to eat – to remember how disgusting I looked – to ‘eat only 3 things’.

I’m sharing to release the shame. 

The girls continued to dig through the bins – laughing and trying on clothes and asking me to take pictures. Kylie saw me reading the notebooks and asked me a few times what I was reading. Someday, when she is ready to hear my story, I will share it with her. 

I debated about sharing with you tonight – and someday I may share pictures of my notes -- but I share with you tonight because lately, I’ve felt at a loss for words trying to explain WHY I am doing what I am doing with this coaching gig.

And WHY it’s been SO important for me. 

THIS IS WHY. I have found BALANCE. INNER PEACE. FREEDOM. I’ve been through mental hell living with ED – and I have finally found a community that values the health of the mind as much as the health of the body. I am able to put to use all of the skills that I learned in the years of therapy. Everything has come together for me… I am healthy – my whole body AND my mind. And THAT feels SO good. THAT is why I ask you to join me. Because we are too damn hard on ourselves. We give the internal critic too much power. We put our needs last. 

We are all WORTHY of this… and if it means that I blow up your social media with invitations to join me, that’s what I will do. Because – I believe so strongly in paying it forward – because I believe that we are all capable of FEELING free. 

My girls went to bed with handfuls of medals and trophies –

I know I cannot protect my girls from the world, but you better believe that I am damn well going to try to help equip them with the knowledge and skills so that they can be FULLY prepared if ED comes knocking.

And, I KNOW that starts with me. Sharing the pain. Sharing my journey back. All of it.

~

 
 Not even two years later!! Time slow down!

Not even two years later!! Time slow down!

 

I can't wait to invite you into the Rise Free Academy with me. 

 If you are ready to quiet the noise and live your life with more balance, deeper joy - and inner peace, I see you. And I cannot wait to help you make these shifts - so you can step into a life that is fully your own. So you can live FREE.  

More details coming soon!! Very soon!!

{insert happy dance + vulnerability hangover #keepingitreal!!} 

~

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Samantha Arsenault Livingstone is an Olympic Gold Medalist, transformational speaker, high performance coach, mama of four girls. 

Samantha empowers women to cultivate the courage, resilience and perseverance needed to live their dreams. She helps her clients expand their high performance skill set and let go of beliefs that are keeping them stuck - opening up the door for freedom, balance and joy that transcends.

Samantha candidly shares her battles with her inner critic, depression, perfection, PTSD and parenting as a working mother because she believes in the transformative power of story – and the strength that comes from knowing we are not alone. She is on a mission to pay forward all that she’s learned to help others find joy and live free.
  
A mama of heart warrior and mama of twins, Samantha and her husband, Rob, live in the Berkshires with their four girls. You can learn more about Samantha at www.samanthalivingstone.com.