What a dope…
I thought today I’d delve into the psychological profile of Lance Armstrong. I read his autobiography when it came out in 2000, a little over 12 years ago. I think that makes me more than qualified to speculate as to why he made certain life choices. 🙂 At the very least his story makes the rest of us feel pretty darn good about our own pathetic existence. For that, we can thank him. Hey, I may not be able to sell my house, but at least I don’t have to return all of my Tour de France medals, lose all of my endorsements, get shunned from the biking world, resign from my own charity organization, face multiple law suits, and feel like a gigantic loser. This is a fall from grace that feels like it’s on steroids… Oh wait, it is on steroids.
Okay. Time to get serious. Lance Armstrong is really no different from the rest of us. The title of his book, It’s not about the Bike, couldn’t be more accurate. If you recall from an earlier post, we discussed the idea that we usually recreate our past in some capacity. We sub-consciously recreate scenarios/situations and relationships that will allow us to re-experience familiar feelings from our childhoods – often the most painful.
One of the feelings that many of us carry into adulthood is a sense of shame. Shame is not “I made a mistake,” rather it’s, “I am a mistake.” It’s not “I did something bad,” it’s, “I am bad.” When Lance was little, his abusive biological father left his mother when he was two years old. His mom remarried another man who was maybe a notch better, but still, slightly abusive, cold and stern with Lance. They moved to Plano, Texas where Lance struggled to fit in at school. He was bullied and ostracized. We can gather from his early experiences that he was likely feeling, unlovable, not good enough, different, alone. It’s likely that from an early age Lance developed a sense of shame.
Lance entered adulthood with a need or desire to prove his worth. Though his wound was deep inside, it would motivate him to achieve great things. Unfortunately, the need to recreate the earlier shame he felt as a child was also very present. The decision Lance made to use steroids to enhance his performance and then hide his behavior duplicated the feeling he had as a child. I’m not good enough. There’s something I’m hiding. You don’t really know me. I’m not lovable.
Now we can maybe understand what motivated these self-defeating choices. Imagine how he must have been feeling all these years as he gained his fame and fortune on a lie. Then again, it’s possible that he believed his own lies, that he was able to justify taking those drugs and that he feels no remorse. (This would be the ego protecting itself.) His greatest accomplishment, in my eyes, is beating cancer. What’s worse, the fact that he took drugs or the enormous cover-up and the multitude of lies he had to tell, even involving his own team mates? There’s shame in both.
Had he tried to win without drugs, imagine how proud he would have been with himself. That sense of self-approval would have been enough to start undoing the original wound.
“The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors; that which it loves, and also that which it fears; it reaches the height of its cherished aspirations; it falls to the level of its unchastened desires-and-circumstances are the means by which the soul receives its own.” James Allen -British Philosophical writer – As a Man Thinketh – published 1903