Having Grace With Ourselves
I was talking to a new friend last night. We sat in a cool Berlin cafe/bar called Kapitalist. The facade is torn up stucco, and there is no sign marking this was it. There are tables outside, and the bar is lovely, but that is where they stopped with “decorating.” The rest of the long and narrow space is… industrial, let’s say. I sat on an IKEA-style cart with a wool blanket on the bottom and a few pillows for comfort, chatting over a low table made with reclaimed objects, small candle burning, talking to my friend about life, writing, and several other things. We quickly dispensed with the small talk and got in deep. I kind of love that!
As we sat there, it occurred to me how people are so similar. It doesn’t matter if you are a 50-year-old American polyamorous divorcee or a 37-year-old British photographer and creative. We often have the same concerns, insecurities, ambitions, etc. We all want to love and to be loved. We all wonder what’s next. We all think about our past and how it impacts us now.
We were talking a bit about our pasts and how we often feel responsible for things that often aren’t ours to take on. As humans, it is very easy to blame ourselves instead of recognizing either someone else did this thing to us or it was totally out of our control, and there is no way we could have impacted the outcome. Instead, we blame ourselves, If we had only tried harder, if we had only communicated better, if only we hadn’t done this thing that someone else didn’t like. Oh, how this can weigh on us. Can keep us low. Can prevent us from moving forward or, worse, from seeing our worth and value.
Practicing grace is making daily choices to interact in the world with courtesy and good will. That doesn’t mean you disregard boundaries but you give yourself space to be flexible with your perceived reality with acceptance and kindness. Grace is not about perfection. – The Mom Forum
Your Dictionary.com has these examples of what Grace is:
- To bring honor; to dignify
- A favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence
- Goodwill; favor
- The state of having received such favor
- Mercy; clemency
- Thoughtfulness toward others
One of the things I try to remind myself of as often as I need it, and I stress to my friends, and loved ones, is the idea of having grace with ourselves. What if we applied the concept of grace to ourselves? What if we not only push grace outward to others but also inward to support ourselves?
So you made a mistake. Have grace with yourself. It was a mistake, you are human. It’s ok. Sure, you might have to fix it, or make it right with someone you hurt, but that doesn’t mean you have to beat yourself up over it. Give yourself the goodwill to forgive yourself and be ok with yourself as you move forward. Grace is not about perfection.
Instead of acting in a way that is harmful to yourself, try to have thoughtfulness for yourself. Have mercy on yourself. Take the time to be calm, and forgive yourself. Remember, you are just you, doing your best every day. Have grace with yourself.
I would never try to say this is easy. For some of us, it is harder than for others. But I can tell you in many discussions with people that something changes when I mention the idea of having grace with ourselves. (Even if it is for those few short moments.) Their countenance relaxes their frown releases. They think to themselves, “Oh yeah- that makes sense. I am ok. I am not my mistake. I have more to me than that. ”
Just like people talk about having a daily gratitude practice or meditation practice… the word practice is important there. It is not something that comes naturally or easily. You must practice going easy on yourself in the same way. Remind yourself when you start to be rough on yourself that instead, you could choose grace. Choose to be kind to yourself. Honor your own boundaries, and be thoughtful towards yourself. Interact with your inner world with courtesy and goodwill.
I am not perfect. I don’t always manage to do this for myself, either. But when I do, it helps slow things down. It helps me to see better the path forward. I am less likely to dwell on the past or worry about the future. I hope it will do the same for you if you try it. Go easy on yourself. You are human, perfect in every way, and wonderfully flawed.
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