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Finding Compassion for my Weaknesses through an Injury

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A few years ago, I was in a yoga class (at a time when I rarely did yoga) and I heard something pop in my left hamstring. “Oh crap”, I thought. I unraveled myself from the pose and dropped into child’s pose, and just hoped that nothing major had happened.

After a few days, the pain wasn’t too bad, so I never went to a doctor, even though in retrospect, I should have.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I have stopped my typical spinning workouts and have been getting more into yoga for the first time in years.

Well, WOAH. Apparently spinning didn’t reveal just how weak my left leg had gotten, but yoga has highlighted just how screwed up my left leg / hamstring is and has been over the last several years.

How did I not notice this?

I am not sure how it got so bad, but my guess is that I really did injure myself a few years ago and things healed really weird, and my other muscles / my right leg compensated for my screwed up left leg.

ANYWAY, let’s just say that I have now realized just how weak my left leg is. I am incredibly tight, inflexible, and the muscles are generally SO weak in that leg.

Over the last couple of months, as I have gotten more into yoga and have been trying to progress, the fact that my left leg is ridiculously weak has been really frustrating.

There have been so many poses I’ve wanted to do, but I can’t.

So many times I’ve been humbled by needing to use blocks in basic poses, even though everyone around me hasn’t needed to.

Many moments when every other part of my body was ready to go deeper and do more, but I had to stop myself because of my left leg.

The quote “you’re only as strong as your weakest part” has come into my thoughts many times during my practice.

My whole body and my whole yoga practice has had to slow down and go at the pace of my struggling left leg.

While the rest of my body has been getting stronger and wants to “go go go! do more! go deeper! be better!”, I mostly haven’t been able to.

My strong parts have had to be extremely patient, waiting for the weaker parts of me to slowly strengthen.

As I learned how to deal with my left leg, I deeply felt that I was learning a massive lesson through this experience, in a way that transcended my physical injury and the yoga mat.

I observed the way I started taking care of my left leg.

My initial frustrations softened into so much compassion and profound care.

I started showering my leg with unconditional love and attention.

I noticed myself talking to my leg during yoga classes, “how are you doing darling?”. “Is that too much for you?”, “you’re doing such a great job, I’m so proud of you”. I know this sounds nuts, but this is really how I started to relate to my leg.

I realized that I was learning how to be compassionate and patient with my weaknesses.

This leg injury was actually exactly what I needed in order to learn something bigger.

I am someone who always struggles with perfectionism, with needing to having it all together, with striving for a gold star in class, with wanting to portray only my strengths.

I am not that comfortable with my weaknesses.

I like to brush over them, fix them, move along, shove them down.

But this left leg, this physical weakness, was not letting me avoid it any longer.

I had to learn how to love my weakness. Work with it. Be patient with it. Live with it. Be IN it.

I saw how I quite easily got to a place of extreme love and compassion toward my leg, how GOOD it felt to love the sh*t out of a part of me that needed extra TLC, and I felt like something was urging me to take this off the mat: what if I did this more with my other non-physical weaknesses?

When I don’t know what to say in a certain situation, can I be kind and forgiving toward myself instead of beating myself up?

When I am sometimes shy around someone I’m into, can I be understanding and supportive toward myself instead of thinking I should easily be able to be myself in any situation ever?

When I lash out at someone I love because I am completely overwhelmed, can I be patient that it’s something I’m working on, instead of expecting immediate perfection from myself?

Can I love my strengths and also be understanding and loving toward my weaknesses?

In the past few weeks, I have noticed a considerable change in how I speak to myself when I notice a “weakness” pop up.

The biggest difference?

I allow the “weakness” to be there. I notice it, and I allow it to be part of me and my experience.

I don’t try to fix it, avoid it, or shame myself for it.

Because I am not perfect.

Weaknesses are part of who I am. I will always have them.

My leg has slowly gotten better, and seeing it strengthen, very very slowly, has brought me so much satisfaction.

It’s nowhere near where I’d like it to be yet, but we’re making progress.

And in the recovery, I am learning how to live with weakness, and I am so grateful for that.

How do you relate to your perceived weaknesses?

What do you feel is “wrong” with you, and can you consider creating more space for those parts of you to exist instead of feeling the pull to fix / avoid / shame yourself?

If you find yourself overeating or binge eating, can you accept that it’s a slow process to heal, and that you’re doing the best you can, and you’ll probably stumble many times before getting there?

If you find it hard to love your body, can you be okay with the uncomfortable feelings associated with your body and not expect yourself to “love yourself fully” in every second, knowing you’re working on it?

If you’ve had a short fuze with your kids lately, can you forgive yourself?

I am over here trying to accept and live with my weaknesses, knowing that overtime, I’ll keep slowly working on strengthening them. But for now, they’re there. They’re a part of me. Some may evolve over time, some may be there forever.

And that’s okay.

Because I am human, and so are you.

Isn’t it kind of nice to know we can allow space for our weaknesses, relate to them deeply, and love ourselves and BE loved even with them?

I hope this story serves you in some way, and maybe helps you bring a bit more compassion to those parts of you that you wish were different.

We all have those parts of us, and there can be immense healing in learning to live with them.

I’d love to hear in the comments, what “weakness” do you typically beat yourself up about, that you can perhaps find more compassion for?

Loving you from here!

Love,
Jamie

Jamie

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Comments

  1. Sherrie says

    This was beautiful Jamie — so well said and gave me a lot to think about as I am also struggling with some physical weaknesses and ailments. You gave me a totally different perspective that helped me soften and have hope. Thank you!

  2. Anna says

    Hi Jamie – this post came at an amazing time. I don’t just mean time in my life, but I mean literally this minute of this hour. I am seriously battling anxiety attacks right now as I embark on creating my own business and standing in the fire of needing to “show up”. Like getting up and being seen for what I want to share with the world and I’ve allowed my inner critic to not only drive, but fully take over the vehicle and it’s bad. So thank you for this post. My body literally started to relax as I read it and I’m focusing on compassion and forgiveness. Thank you thank you thank you xox Your fan, Anna

  3. Carolyn says

    How insightful and powerful that you took a simple physical yoga experience and saw its broader relevance in your life. As a perfectionist and someone who has lived by the rule of “shoulds” and discipline for so long, this kind of gentle patience and compassion just seems like coddling and self-indulgence. I’m having trouble getting to such a place because it would feel kind of weak. Does that make sense? I’m just too much still in the throes of striving and driving to be better, to do better. :-/

Jamie-Mendell-Sq

This place is for you: To explore what your soul needs to hear today.

I mainly write about Inner CriticSelf-CareFollowing Your IntuitionLife + Evolving, and the occasional Recipe. Enjoy!