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The Culture of Selflessness and Redefining Deservingness

How our society and your Self-worth are affecting Resilience


The services provided by Yoga For First Responders are easy to access, and we continue to improve and simplify how first responders can use them and agencies can employ them. We provide scientific markers that show effectiveness. We have transformed yoga to be job-specific and culturally informed. We have been praised for our work and its help to public safety. And yet, getting individuals to use this tool consistently or agencies to provide time and resources, demonstrating a prioritization of it as a viable training technique, is still an uphill battle.


I’ve asked myself for many years why this is the case, and I have worked tirelessly to solve any and all logistical “problems” that may prevent implementation. Recently, I had a new thought: What if the lack of personal and professional implementation has nothing to do with logistics? What if it has nothing to do with science or effectiveness? But what if it has everything to do with human behavior? Our society does not promote the concepts of worthiness or deservingness, especially when it comes to self-care, self-prioritization, or any education with the purpose of one’s longevity.


Our society does not promote the concepts of worthiness or deservingness, especially when it comes to self-care, self-prioritization, or any education with the purpose of one’s longevity.

Instead, our culture commonly glorifies selflessness and humility, praising those who sacrifice their well-being for the sake of others. From fictional superheroes to real-life role models like first responders who are portrayed as the epitome of virtue and heroism, or mothers who give up things they enjoy in life to dedicate all their time and energy to their children, our culture has long celebrated individuals who put others before themselves. While these values are undoubtedly admirable, they can sometimes mistakenly devalue the importance of self-care and proactive resilience building, inadvertently creating a stigma around self-care that often leads one to perceive it as indulgent, selfish, or unnecessary.


Man with cape standing on top of a mountain depicting a superhero
Superheroes are glorified for being selfless

As “self-care” has grown to correspond with expensive coffee and luxury facials, a person considered deserving of self-care can also be mistakenly associated with privilege and entitlement. Yet the genuine concept of deservingness means it is one’s birthright to rest, recover, and care for oneself on every level, not only for enjoyment but as a very effective tool for enhancing performance. Your level of self-worth is intrinsically linked to your feeling of deservingness. And in turn, your sense of deservingness determines your actions that make you feel worthy, and the cycle continues.


it is one’s birthright to rest, recover, and care for oneself on every level, not only for enjoyment but as a very effective tool for enhancing performance.

Two women laying on a bed using face masks and cucumbers on their eyes depicting "self-care"
This is what our culture think is "self-care"

Even if time and resources are scarce, everyone deserves to know how their nervous system functions and learn the tools to make necessary adjustments, reset mental framing, and process stress through movement. What would happen if, as a society, we acknowledged that everyone deserves the time and space to learn and practice these techniques and then were encouraged, supported, and celebrated for using them?


As the emergency services profession is structured to be focused exclusively on servicing the public, it’s essential for agencies that employ first responders to foster an environment that values and provides proactive self-care options for their personnel. Resilience training should be integrated into the organizations' standard practices and policies. This kind of training cannot simply be “supported” without action. Providing a gym space without any requirements to use it, or offering a handout about breathing exercises and not ending roll call with practicing them as a group, leaves it up to the individual to have to choose to spend their own time on self-care which brings back the stigma of having to choose yourself over others.

Resilience training should be integrated into the organizations' standard practices and policies.
Man holding a rifle depicting firearms training
Range time is acceptable, but what about nervous system training?

No one considers tactical training, such as time on the range or search and rescue drills, selfish because first responders must qualify and pass specific aptitude tests to remain on the job. Therefore, putting in time for this kind of training is never questioned. That being the case, what if first responders had to qualify and pass tests on nervous system regulation? Biofeedback machines can easily measure heart rhythm patterns demonstrating heart rate variability and one’s ability to self-regulate into a place of coherence. Consider this quote from the Heartmath organization regarding Heart Rate Variability and Coherence related to job performance, “When we are in a Coherent State, virtually no energy is wasted because our systems are performing optimally and there is synchronization between heart rhythms, the respiratory system, blood pressure rhythms. Among the many benefits of personal coherence are increased composure, more energy, clear thinking, enhanced immune system function and hormone balance.”


If first responders had to qualify their autonomic nervous system fitness as part of a job requirement, then the time they spend using yoga, breathwork, meditation, etc., to train themselves for this test would feel necessary and not like a luxury.


And the best part? A recent research study on YFFR Protocol demonstrated that the techniques from traditional yoga tailored by Yoga For First Responders to be job-specific and culturally informed effectively prevent Post-Traumatic Stress. (Research paper will be published soon!) Everybody wins when self-worth and inherent deservingness increase and post-traumatic stress decrease, and both can be found and accomplished through yoga.


Start here and never look back.




Group of people on yoga mats practicing Triangle Pose
This is also tactical training


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