The past week I have had to give myself some grace. At first, it wasn’t easy, but once I settled into it, I realized that it’s what I have been missing. Is giving yourself grace missing in your life?
What does it mean to give yourself grace? Grace is about love and kindness. It’s about accepting what is and not judging the person or the situation. Grace is about forgiveness, and it allows us to heal. Grace is that gesture of kindness we experience when it seems that things are falling apart around us. Have you ever snapped at someone at the office and that person still shows you kindness later in the day? That’s showing grace.
It’s often easier for us to show grace to others. I thought about this a lot this past week. My situation involved having an outrageous sweet tooth. Like, off the charts I must have a dozen donuts NOW sweet tooth. If this were happening to a client I was working with I would have alleviated their stress over having the cravings by saying something like, “It’s okay to have those feelings. Allow them to be and maybe journal about them to see what they are telling you. If the feeling doesn’t go away after having a glass of water and maybe a little exercise, allow yourself something sweet to satisfy the craving. It’s okay and completely normal.”
What did I do when I had the intense cravings? I berated myself for not having it all together. How could I let this happen – I’m a health coach for goodness sake? I should know how to handle this situation better and not let myself get to this point. So many thoughts and feeling bombarded me, and I felt like I was a failure. A failure because I allowed my feelings (sugar cravings) to surface. What sort of health coach does that?
I would never have said those things to a client, so why do I tell them to myself?
It’s so much easier to be hard on ourselves. Our inner voice, you know the one, has a way of taking over. Its job is to keep us safe, but over the expanse of our lifetime, we have allowed it take control and NOT SHUT UP.
Giving yourself grace is not about caving in and giving up on your goals. It’s about accepting what is, in the present moment, and allowing ourselves to experience sensations and feelings that are a part of life. It’s about loving ourselves even when we feel like we aren’t doing our best.
Sometimes giving yourself grace is hard, or you might not know how to do it. We are our worst critique and changing that so we become our greatest advocate takes practice. Here are my tips for giving yourself some grace.
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When things are unraveling, and you feel out of control stop and tap into what it is your feeling and what you want. If you have a sweet tooth, identify what you want at that moment. It might be a pint of ice cream, or it could be a snuggle with your partner on the couch. If you are grieving a loved one who was in your care, you might feel guilty about not doing more to help them, and you want to feel your arms around them once again. Allow your feelings and desires to surface and accept them for what they are. They are not wrong or right. They are what they are. In my sweet tooth attack, I wanted sweet chocolate and felt like I could eat all the sugar in the house in one sitting.
This is where you dig a bit deeper to discover what it is that makes you feel that your feelings or desires are not okay. Think about when things go wrong. Let’s say you are disciplining your daughter and you feel bad because it might be perceived that you are the mean parent. What is it about you that is causing you to have those feelings. Is it the part of you that wants to be your daughter’s best friend? Or if you are grieving a loved one’s death and you feel guilty. Is the guilt coming from the caregiver in you who thinks s/he didn’t provide better care? In my case the part of me that was experiencing bad feelings about having a sweet tooth was the health coach who wants to set a good example.
Now that you know the part of you that is having the feelings or wants love it with all your heart. We don’t often do this – love ourselves – like we do other people. To start this practice simply say statements like, “I love the parent in me who wants my child to have manners and be well-adjusted.” I love the homemaker in me who wants to provide a clean home for my partner.” “I love the caregiver in me who wants to take care of my loved ones.” “I love the health coach in me who cares about my well being and wants to set a good example.” It might not feel real when you first start saying the I love you phrases but over time it will. Keep repeating your statement with meaning, acceptance, and love.
This is where giving yourself grace comes in. Rather than stopping yourself from feeling or wanting at that moment, allow it to happen. If you are grieving a loved one, let the tears flow and bring forth thoughts and visions of your life with that person. Let go of the guilt or blame that hurts your heart and know that the essence of life is not something you control. If you feel like you are a horrible homemaker because you don’t keep a tidy house all the time, remind yourself that you can’t do everything perfectly. You do more than enough for your family. If you have a sweet tooth attack, lean into it and accept it as is. If you give yourself some space and if the sweet tooth is still there, enjoy a little treat – that is what it means to give yourself some grace.
Ultimately, giving yourself grace is giving yourself a pass for having the feelings and desires that bubble up for you in times when life seems to unravel. We can’t all be perfect human beings with perfect lives. There is no such thing. We do the best we can with what we have. That is all we can ask of ourselves and others. Grace allows us to breathe and be.
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Corrie Ann Gray is a writer, researcher, coach, and cookie enthusiast who lives in Los Angeles, CA. She started the Clean Body Project to share all of her knowledge and resources with others who are interested in running their own experiment into clean holistic living. She is also known as The Renaissance Soul Writer at www.corrieanngray.com.