Injury and Compassion


During the past week my left shoulder had a strain in it. I guess I would have called it a minor injury. Thankfully it’s felt back to normal today but this morning in yoga I really got to thinking of the nature of my shoulders and what it meant to be “injured.” While I feel it has fully recovered, I was more mindful today during my masters swim workout and yoga to be considerate of my shoulder and not over strain it. I was more compassionate in taking care of myself, versus being judgmental or frustrated over what my shoulder is holding me back from “doing.”

You see, I have what I consider strong broad shoulders. When I started masters swimming and practicing yoga I started to really appreciate my shoulders and how dependable they are. Especially in yoga, I appreciated how much my shoulders supported my body in certain poses, how confident they helped me feel, and how I depended on them to show up at every practice ready to exert their mightiness. However, when I found myself injured over the week (since last Saturday) it really set me back emotionally and physically.

Today the light finally went on and I came to the realization that my injury meant I was asking/ taking/ forcing way more of my shoulders than they were capable of giving. My shoulders are not invincible and while they are strong, they only have so much strength and endurance give. The injury says, “you are asking way more than what I am capable of right now, and now I am hurt and need to rest.” I’m sure before the “injury” my shoulders were giving me little signals that I did not listen to. Thankfully I heeded when I did so as not to make it a major injury.

BUT. On a deeper level I know that this lesson is not about my shoulders it is about life. It’s about being aware of when we/I are taking/ forcing/ asking more of our bodies, relationships, work, children, friends, family, partners, pets, etc. then they are capable of giving. When we do try to force more of whatever it is our relationships becomes “injured,” our bodies become injured, our ego’s become “injured,” and so on. That is not to say we are intentionally being greedy or controlling (no judgment okay!) but everything has it’s limitations…everything AND everyone, including ourselves. This “injury” brings awareness to those limitations in a big way!

It took this minor injury to shift into being compassionate and considerate of my shoulders instead of seeing them as always strong, dependable, and willing to withstand all I force on them. In yoga class my teacher says, “Give what you have and let that be enough. What your body has today may be different than it had yesterday or tomorrow. Be okay with where it is today.”

I wanted to share this because I know it’s hard sometimes to let go and be okay with where we are at in life. To tell ourselves “what I have today and right now is enough.” It’s not always comfortable or happy-go-lucky despite what we see on social media. Sometimes the forcing more, doing more, taking more is out of distracting ourselves from what’s inside. In yoga, the more I focus on forcing trying to get the pose “just right” (strong shoulders and all) I miss the real opportunity to look within at why do I need “to get it right” and being compassionate with that part of myself that is revealed. I think we distract so much sometimes because we are afraid to look within because when we look within we typically judge ourselves so harshly instead of meeting that inner person with compassion. My minor injury has taught me this lesson once again in my life- to meet my “injuries,” weaknesses, mistakes, and oversights with compassion. It is a lesson that I know I will be learning for the rest of my life and probably into the next

So beautiful people, let yourself off the hook and be compassionate with yourself. I know it’s not all hardcore-put-your-head-down-and-just-do-the-work athlete mentality, but trust me it’s the better way to learn to live with yourself and within yourself- when you do you really can endure all things.

Keep on shining beautiful people…Namaste!

Dr. G

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Dr. Gloria Petruzzelli

Dr. Petruzzelli is a clinical sport psychologist, triathlete, and certified mindfulness meditation teacher located in Sacramento, California. She works with elite athletes and sports teams across the country. She is a competitive athlete and enjoys practicing yoga, spending time with her family, and traveling.