Whether I’m training for a PR or rehabbing an injury, as I am right now, I strongly believe in the motivational power of self-compassion. So you can imagine my delight when this TEDx talk from Kristin Neff, who I interviewed for Go easy on yourself: Cutting yourself a break once in a while can help you cut weight, turned up in my inbox just a few days after I broke my elbow. It’s worth a watch, no matter where you are in your training or rehabbing efforts.
Also motivating me this week: Continued progress in my efforts to rehab my recently repaired broken elbow. I can put my hair in a ponytail with ease, and I’ve eked out a few more degrees of flexion and extension in physical therapy.
My first swim last week was pretty demoralizing. I discovered that I can’t manage a single pull with my injured left arm yet—not in terms of strength, not in terms of mobility, not in terms of anything. So I tossed (OK, angrily threw) my goggles onto the pool deck and spent the next hour repeating a long kick set, feeling bad about my elbow. When I got out, the lifeguard stopped me and cheerfully said: “You’ve got incredible leg stamina! How many yards did you just get in?” It led to a lovely conversation in which he made me feel awesome about my efforts and encouraged me to keep up the good work with my elbow rehab. The whole encounter reminded me of The Human Scale, which Cheryl Strayed, the author of Wild, wrote for the advice column Dear Sugar. She writes:
“In your darkest hour you were held afloat by the human love that was given to you when you most needed it. … You learned that your idea of God as a possibly non-existent spirit man who may or may not hear your prayers and may or may not swoop in to save your ass when the going gets rough is a losing prospect. So it’s up to you to create a better one. A bigger one. Which is really, almost always, something smaller.
What if you allowed your God to exist in the simple words of compassion others offer to you? What if faith is the way it feels to lay your hand on your daughter’s sacred body? What if the greatest beauty of the day is the shaft of sunlight through your window? What if the worst thing happened and you rose anyway?”
Read the whole column about the rafts of human compassion that allow us to live through suffering here. What’s motivating you this week?