How to: Give Yourself Grace
Before I dive in on this topic, I want to define GRACE in the terms of this post. I would define grace as the acceptance of our human experience for all that is - the good, the bad, the hard, the easy, our trials and tribulations, our gifts, and our imperfections as a whole. When you have the ability to give yourself grace when you need it, you're increasing the ability to experience happiness more so than your average high achieving/overachiever. Giving yourself grace might also feel like peace.
This weekend I had the opportunity to practice what I am about to share with you. I found myself in the middle of an unexpected and fueled argument with people I love. I made a deal with myself going into the weekend knowing that I would need to practice patience and silence if I didn't have anything kind to say. I knew it would only be hurtful, not helpful. I also knew I had to set myself up for success because emotions may be high. I ended up utilizing my whole bank of kindness and patience, and I snapped. I used unkind words. Because of the steps below, I was able to dig myself out of my thoughts, take a deep breath, give myself grace, apologize thoughtfully, and have a great conversation that moved the needle in a relationship that I've been struggling with long-term. Progress is progress and I'm happy I was able to effectively and calmly handle a high-emotion situation that I could have let get the best of me. I was certainly imperfect, but I was my most authentic self while experiencing hurt and frustration. I gave myself grace to feel all of my feelings, yet still make the most loving and healthy choice on how I wanted to impact the circumstances. That is not an easy. It's easy to talk about, but it's another beast when you're in the moment or caught off-guard.
Giving yourself grace requires awareness, intentionality, behavioral and emotional self-control, kindness, and other tools ready-to-go in your toolbelt. Check out the four steps I find most helpful.
1) Become Aware of and Manage Your Internal Dialogue
When you break a supportive habit (see my other most recent post on supportive habits), what internal dialogue comes up? Do you begin beating yourself up? Do you start saying that you aren't disciplined? Or that you will never accomplish your goals because of this one instance? Or do you accept it, take a deep breath and pause, and in fact, give yourself grace. Do you then know that means you're more alive than ever because you have the awareness that sets you up to continue to grow? Also, when you take this pause, ask yourself, would you speak this way to your closest friend? If the answer is no, why are you justified in saying it to yourself?
2) Get Out of Your Own Way & Take Action
Once you are able to turn down the volume on your inner critic, it will feel easier to take action and not get lost in these thoughts that create internal frustration and self-loathing when you are in need of love and care. When you choose to take action and keep going, you are more able to shift these thoughts. You are imperfect and beautiful as you are, but by taking action you are growing and choosing to keep making moves towards what you want (a specific skill, goal, etc.) instead of staying stagnant. That resets the trust you have for yourself to do a thing. You are, instead, beautifully and imperfectly pursuing your inner most desires no matter what. It's okay to be wrong or for something not to go well. Now, you have more information than had you never tried at all.
3) Ask Yourself: What does the evidence tell you?
If and when you are feeling stuck in these first two steps, survey the evidence you have that supports and doesn't support the thoughts you are having that are keeping you from self-grace. It helps our mind process our experiences when you write them down. You could make a pro-con list if that's relevant. We may realize how amazingly false and hurtful some of our thoughts can be. They hinder more often than not. Writing them down brings rationale when we are caught up in beliefs and feelings that are detrimental for our growth. Evidence has the power to bring facts to an emotional situation, and find a meeting of the heart and mind when it matters most to us.
4) Balance Acceptance with Growth
Acceptance, in this situation, is loving yourself just as you are, whatever stage or chapter of life you're in. Life is a journey and happiness isn't a destination. *You're welcome for the cliche. Though cliches might be unoriginal, they are, more often than not, true.* I have found that if I am able to find acceptance and love on my path then I am able to truly feel happy and experience joy more frequently.
The next part of this challenge is to balance this acceptance with the right and ability to choose consistent growth. You are always entitled not to be the person you were yesterday. Though I am starting to use the word "balance" more carefully. Life rarely feels "balanced". In this season of life your emphasis might be 60-70% career, 20% relationships/loved ones, and the rest on self-improvement. Maybe in another chapter your emphasis is 50% family and 50% career, but you feel like you have no time for self-improvement. Self-improvement could be anything self-care, growth, health and wellness, or even financial - working out, reading, journaling, cooking your own whole foods, a certification, learning and education, joining an organization, managing a side business, or other hobbies that are fun and of interest to you etc. A part of your pie could be also be spirituality, or recreation might be a high priority for you so concerts, travel, finding community and attending workshops, etc. are a part of it.
ANYWAY. Finding the awareness of what maintaining balance, filling your cup, and acceptance of where you are vs. what chapter of growth you are in looks like for YOU. While discovering this awareness for myself, I have felt more happiness more often in the most epically beautiful way. I have also felt peace more frequently.
There's a fine line between consistently believing you'll never be enough and this method I've just described. I want to strive for this method over and over again until I find what works for me instead of consistently not being able to quiet the voice in my head telling me I'll never be enough. I think this step is the longest and the hardest. I'm not sure if this step can ever really feel like something checked off a list, and I ACCEPT that with all of the grace that I have in me.
It's a beautiful skill to know when and how to give yourself grace when you need it most. It's also no easy task. We are in this together. I'm in this work with you without a doubt.
Shout out to my friend Patrick for helping me title and provide inspiration for this week's post. Also, since my cover photo was less intuitive this week, I chose water because water makes me feel at peace environmentally and where I feel the most deeply connected to nature.
I hope you needed to hear just one sentence I shared here. If so, I'd love for you to tell me what sentence it was. I love knowing what thoughts are provoked within you while reading my thoughts and experiences.
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