I took a yoga class the other day for the first time in a long while. My back has been bothering me and my achilles feels like it’s about to pop (done that before and don’t ever want to go through that again), so I told myself I was really going to take it easy. Throughout the practice, I am sure I did not look impressive at all. It seemed like all around me lean, graceful bodies were bending and balancing impressively, while I was modifying a lot of poses to protect my back and achilles. I kept reminding myself to listen to my body and be compassionate toward myself. And to my surprise, I actually did! For once, I was truly able to put ego and a sense of competitiveness aside and do what felt right for my body.
When the practice was over, a woman I hadn’t noticed before spoke to the instructor about how horrible she had done. She was embarrassed and didn’t think she should be in the class. The instructor told her that she was perfectly fine! And that no one was looking. Everyone was too intent on themselves to notice. As I rolled up my mat, it occurred to me how hard we are on ourselves. And how we may quit or avoid things because we think we’re not good enough, when one–we’re doing fine and two–if we keep doing it we’ll get even better.
We must stop comparing ourselves to the people around us, no matter how much stronger they may appear, and instead concentrate on doing the very best we can in the given moment.
I believe in the power of compassion–toward our patients, our fellow comrades and ourselves. Sometimes, it seems like having compassion toward ourselves is the hardest kind of all. Triple F’ers especially are very self-critical. We have high expectations of ourselves. But sometimes we need to give ourselves a break while still performing to the best of our ability. We need to stop comparing ourselves to the people around us, no matter how much stronger they may appear, and instead concentrate on doing the very best we can in the given moment. This doesn’t mean letting ourself off the hook. Effort, perseverance, and awareness are required to be good at anything. There is no point whatsoever in simply going through the motions. A commitment is required. And patience.
A meditation teacher recently told me that patience and kindness often go together. I hope as firefighters and paramedics, we exercise those qualities when dealing with our patients, children, families, and each other. So why not allow ourselves the same courtesy? If we practice self-compassion, the space that comes from that, along with ease and confidence, will naturally improve our performance. And that’s what Triple F is about: striving to be our most fabulous in body, mind, and spirit.
Know Who You Are & Know It’s Enough