Giving Yourself Grace

April 4, 2022

As women, we can be so hard on ourselves. Have you had moments where your mind spirals aimlessly? Do you worry about what others think of you? Have you experienced the feeling that you aren’t good at anything? Have you felt defeated thinking about the awful job you are doing as a wife, mother, or friend? Stop and breathe. None of it is true.

In these moments of uncertainty, self-doubt, and unwarranted criticism, it is important to offer yourself grace. One definition says grace is courteous goodwill. As simple as it sounds and as easy as it may be to be courteous to others, the act of grace is not always easy to extend to ourselves.

I recently experienced limiting thoughts, mostly centered around guilt, when I did not stop working soon enough to help my daughter prepare for an out-of-town school trip. She started working and kept asking me to open a bank account for her to deposit her check into. I brushed her off because I knew her first check wouldn’t arrive for a few weeks. Well, three weeks have passed and she received her first check on Monday. She was leaving for her trip on Wednesday. The account wasn’t opened, she had an expired EpiPen, and she needed snacks. I planned to help her cash her check, pick up her prescription, and go to the store to grab snacks on Tuesday after work. My last meeting of the day ended at 6:30 p.m., but I became engrossed in trying to send a few emails and meeting invitations. We did not leave the house until 7:30 p.m. The line to pick up the prescription was long because only one person was working. We ended up grabbing Benedryl and leaving. We arrived at Wal-Mart to cash the check at 7:55 p.m., but Money Services closed early. They also didn’t have any more Goldfish crackers that she wanted. We ran over to Sam’s Club and another check-cashing place, which was closed! It was such a frustrating night for us. All I could think was,

“if only I shut my computer down and walked away from work at 6:30 as planned, none of this would have happened.”

Of course, I gave her money for her trip, she was able to purchase other snacks, and she was packed before she went to bed. None of that mattered because of the guilt I felt for brushing her off with opening the bank account and waiting until the last minute to finish preparing for the trip. I kept telling myself “this night was a bust!” I went to bed that night sad, a little defeated, and holding a lot of guilt. With a tear in my eye, I had to remind myself that all is well. We got the important things done and Simone would have a great trip. I had to tell myself, “I forgive you.”

Those small words were the answer to the peace I needed to sleep well, and get Simone out the door the next morning to get on the bus for her school trip. I needed that moment of self-forgiveness to reassure myself that everything was OK, I can be released from the burden of guilt, and move on to another day to be the version of myself that I want to be.

When I speak about grace, it’s rooted in kindness. Circumstances are not always as bad as they seem. We inflict these notions of perfection on ourselves and sometimes, we forget who we are. We don’t deserve that. One dictionary defines grace as, “courteous goodwill.” The same grace, kindness, and love that we show to family, friends, and strangers should be the same grace, kindness, and love that we show to ourselves. By having grace as a tenet, my goal is to help release yourself from the burden of unrealistic expectations and baseless cruelty that we impose on ourselves. You are worthy of the grace and love you give to yourself. You are kind and wise so forgive yourself freely and release yourself from the burden of perfection.

What have I learned:

The notion of perfection and having an idea of how life should play out feeds into the guilt you may feel if a situation doesn’t turn out the way you expect. It’s in those moments that I have learned to breathe and assess the reality of the situation.

Offering myself grace through forgiveness allows me to separate fact from fiction and evaluate what I can do differently next time and what, if any, damage control is necessary.

I am doing the best I can with what I have. That is always good enough. When I remember this, I feel free. I am calm and confident and I can continue to operate in a space of grace and acceptance. Every day I can move forward and walk tall no matter what.

How can you use Grace to make yourself a priority:

Giving yourself grace will help to lighten your mood. Grace will also free you from unnecessary scrutiny and unrealistic expectations of perfection. This in turn will allow you to focus on what’s important to you and what matters most to you.

Grace, kindness, courtesy, clemency, goodwill are all actions we are taught to show others to have positive relationships. We don’t often hear about showing those actions to ourselves. You should. Start today! Those actions evoke a feeling of inner peace and solace that you deserve.