I tend to push myself hard, in all areas of life. This tendency is what first brought me to Alpha training—I wanted to be as strong and fit as I could be, keep up with my kids, and achieve feats beyond what I could imagine for myself. But I keep going back to Alpha training because of the community, which holds me accountable, shares its wisdom, and above all teaches me how to show myself compassion.

During one recent workout, I was unhappy with my performance in a particular metcon and told my trainer Dan (@danhove) that I could have gone harder. And then he said something incredible:

“Sometimes it’s not about giving it all you have every day. It’s about trusting that you gave what you needed to give. Working out super hard might have felt good at the time, but down the road, a week or two weeks from now, maybe you’re injured or overtired from overtraining. Trust that tomorrow’s a new day. Look long term. You want sustainability.”

Sustainability! I used to think this word meant serenity, moderation—a word for a person whose every day was mild and balanced, not like the seesaw that I too often find myself riding. But my trainer’s words made me rethink the definition. Now I see sustainability as long-term calibration, as accepting the push-pull of life’s demands and the energy we have to meet them. It’s about carrying on and seeing each new day as unique but also part of a greater project of effort and ease enacted over a lifetime.

This revelation has helped me become kinder towards myself, and it’s thanks to the connection I feel with my Alpha training community. Friends tend to view us with a generosity we don’t often extend to ourselves, and having a broad community gives us a multifaceted view of ourselves in relation to others. We can get a better idea of who we are across multiple contexts and lets us step away from our magnifying mirrors. Our communities give us a chance to see our failures not as limits on who we are, but as data points in the climb towards our goals.

Connection puts you in touch with belief when you can’t find it on your own. My vision for Yellow Parachute has always been to build a thriving community of teachers, parents and learners, dedicated to cultivating compassion for each other. Now, thanks to my Alpha community, I’ve also begun to think of Yellow Parachute as a means to help learners lead sustainable lives—lives full of effort and ease, productive, meaningful failure, and emotional generosity.


Want to learn more about self-compassion?

Dr. Kristin Neff, a researcher and professor at the University of Texas at Austin, runs the Self-Compassion Research Lab, where she studies how we develop and practice self-compassion. www.self-compassion.org