Last Updated on August 15, 2023 by Angela Vaz
Today, I want to talk to you about something I’ve struggled with for a long time.
It has taken me years to understand the value of giving yourself grace.
As someone who has always been a perfectionist, I have spent most of my time trying to be excellent in everything I do.
I was scared of disapproval from my teachers, parents, and myself.
My perfectionism pushed me to loneliness because I felt like I was not good enough to even make friends.
It is the reason why I have always been anxious, stressed, and exhausted.
I was so hard on myself that I never took a break.
I never took the time to acknowledge my accomplishments or celebrate my successes.
Instead, I’d hit a goal and create a new one so I could toil to hit the new one.
Like a vicious cycle, I always wore myself out to the bone.
My perfectionism came with many benefits:
- I never hesitated to spend on myself because I knew that my comfort equaled better results.
- I do not waste my time with anything I feel will not help me achieve a goal – this means 10x productivity.
- I learn and adapt to new things fairly easily
But at the same time, it came at a cost.
If I encountered a loss or a failure, I’d lose all hope and feel like I’d been cast out at sea.
Instead of giving myself grace, I’d talk harshly to myself and feel like I was worth nothing.
This was detrimental to my overall well-being.
I was constantly putting myself down and it was affecting my mental health, my relationships, and my ability to enjoy life.
At one point, I decided that I needed to make a change.
I started by taking a step back and looking at my life objectively.
I realized that I had accomplished so much more than I had given myself credit for like:
- Working for myself and owning a business that I love and adore
- Being able to help people all over the world with my articles
- Having 2 adorable and loyal dogs that love me to the moon and back
I was healthy, happy, and financially secure. I knew that all I needed to do was give myself grace.
In this post, I want to discuss:
- What it means to give yourself grace
- How to give yourself grace (+ what I did)
Let’s dive in!
But before that really quick, get my free guide on how to really reset your life.
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What does giving yourself grace mean?
Giving yourself grace simply means acknowledging that you are human and you are not perfect.
It means accepting your flaws and mistakes and not being overly hard on yourself when things don’t go according to plan.
Giving yourself grace also means taking the time to recognize your accomplishments no matter how small they are. It means celebrating your successes (the tiny ones and the huge ones) and doing the best you can with the resources you have.
It also means being patient with yourself when things are tough.
Life isn’t easy. It doesn’t come with a manual.
And social media has made it look like everyone has it easy. They don’t.
You see a fraction of someone’s life on social media and there is no way to know if any of it is true.
So, it’s very important to not compare yourself to something or someone you don’t have a full and clear picture of.
Giving yourself grace means not giving up on yourself when you stumble, but instead picking yourself back up and trying again.
Giving yourself grace is about self-love and self-acceptance.
I’ve already covered these topics before so I’ll link to those posts at the end of this one.
Self-love means treating yourself with the same kindness, love, and affection as you would a child or a dear friend – that’s the best way I can put it.
It means knowing that you are worthy of love and respect and treating yourself with the same.
I know, I know – it’s easier said than done.
It takes a long time to reach this mindset, especially if you’ve been a perfectionist all your life like me.
It definitely requires patience, self-awareness, and self-reflection. And it means being able to understand that the inner critic isn’t always right especially when it’s telling you “you’re not good enough.”
So, now that you understand what it means to give yourself grace, let’s look into some ways we can do that.
How can you give yourself grace? 7 ways to get started
1. Practice self-compassion
When you make a mistake, it’s so easy to feel like you’ve lost – to beat yourself up and just give up.
I remember when I would try to lose weight before or become fit, I’d throw in the towel if I overate on one day.
I’d gain back all the weight I’d lost because if I couldn’t do it right, it meant that I couldn’t do it at all.
This kind of attitude really made long challenges very difficult to achieve.
If I broke my streak on a Duolingo app, I’d throw in the towel for the whole month.
Yes, that’s how obsessed with perfectionism I was.
Now, instead of criticizing myself or beating myself up, I’d take a deep breath and try again the next day.
If I am unwell or just don’t feel like showing up for my language lesson or my workout, I skip it.
But I come back the next day and continue the habit because I know the results, in the long run, are worth showing up for.
At the end of the day, it’s important to practice self-compassion.
Please understand that life happens.
It isn’t perfect by any means.
So, give yourself that allowance to be human.
2. Focus on the positive
I remember cringing every time my mom would say this.
Whenever I’d tell her I was going through some ordeal, she’d tell me to look at the silver lining.
But now, after years of living in this world, I’ve realized that it is indeed the best way to look at something.
When my marriage ended because I found out my ex was cheating on me, I didn’t feel remorse.
Yes, I was in terrible pain, but I felt like the dark clouds had parted.
I looked at the bright side:
- I realized that I had given my all to that relationship so I had no regrets
- I knew that his cheating meant that neither of us was happy and it was the best sign in the world to end the relationship and move on
- I was grateful that it happened when I was 27 instead of much later – this meant I could now focus on myself and other things
- It also made me so much wiser because I now knew what to look for in a partner and it made me very aware of what I actually wanted in life
Yes, a relationship ending over your partner’s affair is traumatic.
Losing your mom to cancer is traumatic.
But every single situation (no matter how bad) will allow you to see the world through new eyes.
You’ll suddenly realize that you are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for.
We humans are surprisingly versatile and strong.
When the event just happens, you’re not going to be able to see it.
But with time, I urge you to look back at that problem that you thought would be the end of the world and see it with fresh eyes.
Focus on the silver lining.
3. Let go of perfectionism
Ha! Easier said than done, I know I know.
But let’s start small.
Instead of giving yourself 100 tasks to do daily, focus on doing just 3.
I usually make a to-do list in the morning and I focus on the three most essential ones.
If those get done, I know it’s alright to sometimes skip the rest.
This is a hack I picked up from a productivity book.
It’s really easy to feel like you’re not doing enough when you’re a perfectionist, or that you should be doing more.
But perfectionism is a trap because eventually it leads to burnout and exhaustion and you’ll need a lot of time off.
Similarly, focus on progress instead of perfection.
No matter what you’re trying to achieve, celebrate small wins.
It’s impractical to lose 5 pounds or more in a week. But it’s difficult to sustain it and eventually you may end up gaining back all the weight.
Instead, focus on building the habit of working out every day. Remember, the number on the scale isn’t the goal – it’s building the habit of staying active and becoming fit.
I realized that when I shifted my perspective and my goals, maintaining a routine became easy.
Don’t focus on keeping goals.
Focus on building habits.
This will help you ultimately with your goal.
Instead of having a goal like, “I want to be a millionaire,” focus on saving first.
As you keep saving and building the habit of saving, learn to invest your money.
Build the habits, and the goals will follow.
4. Take breaks when you need them
Instead of having these vicious cycles of productivity and exhaustion, why not do your work and take breaks daily?
Here are some tips you can implement:
- Get up from your work desk every 45 minutes and take a walk or get a drink of water or a herbal tea
- If a task is too big, break it into mini tasks
- Take frequent breaks so that you don’t have severe burnout at the end of the day
Don’t reach the point where you are super exhausted and you cannot focus on another thing.
Learn to be okay with being bored.
We are so used to getting things immediately, that the minute we’re bored, we open our phones and start scrolling.
It’s okay to be bored.
It’s okay to sit on the balcony and just watch the trees in the distance or the sunset.
It’s okay to stare at a blank wall.
It’s okay to wash the dishes and just be lost in the moment.
These activities help your brain de-stress.
So, stop feeling guilty about NOT working.
- Water your plants
- Play with your pets
- Drink water
- Take a walk
- Read a book
- Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate
- Take a nap
Do not work 24/7. Give yourself the grace to take a break.
And when you do, focus on the present moment, not what you’re going to do next.
5. Practice gratitude
Practicing gratitude instantly lifts your mood.
It’s so easy to focus on what’s going right in our lives, isn’t it?
On some days even the slightest thing could tick us off. On my bad days, I get these kinds of thoughts:
- I’ve been waiting forever for the elevator, what is the point of having 3/
- I don’t understand why she’s taking so long to message back, I reply immediately always.
- Why didn’t the owner lease the apartment to me? What did that couple have that I didn’t?
- How did the eggs burn? Can’t anything go right today?
Have you had one of those days? Where almost every thought you have is negative? You feel like the whole world is plotting against you.
And practicing gratitude helps you see that 95 things out of 100 are good, maybe even great.
Practicing gratitude involves focusing on what you have and what is good in your life rather than focusing on what is wrong.
This shift in mentality can seriously change your life. It will reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and even increase feelings of happiness, contentment, and resilience.
It even improves physical health by boosting the immune system, lowering blood pressure, and reducing symptoms of chronic pain.
A few ways you can practice gratitude are:
- Writing in a journal: Just write 3 things you are grateful for every day. It can be as small as the cup of coffee you enjoy in the morning or a neighbor saying hello to you every day.
- Express gratitude to others: Ping a person you love or care about every once in a while. Just thank them for being there or send a note of appreciation.
- Use gratitude prompts: If writing is something you struggle to make time for, use this 5-minute gratitude journal with prompts. I absolutely love books like these because they’re so well-thought and the prompts hardly take 5 minutes to fill.
6. Accept your limitations
We all have limitations, whether it’s physical, emotional, or mental.
And it’s important to accept these limitations and work with them.
All our lives we’ve been told we can reach any goal we create or we can do anything we want to do, and I don’t say this to discourage you or stop you from pursuing your dreams.
But we are human.
And it may take us time.
It can take time to reach certain goals.
It can take time to find relationships that are meaningful.
It can take time to work on ourselves.
Things don’t happen immediately.
There is a learning curve involved.
Let’s say you wanted to stop smoking.
You may not be able to quit cold turkey – but with time if you are persistent, you’ll be able to cut down the habit and eventually stop.
You may have a few bad weeks where you’re not able to stop, but this will eventually lead you to your goal.
Don’t push yourself beyond your capabilities.
For instance, I’ve never done a single strenuous physical activity and when I started my journey of fitness, I couldn’t do 5 minutes of an easy home workout without feeling like I was going to collapse.
But with time, I was able to build that endurance and strength.
I just focused on building the habit of showing up. Showing up is a tiny habit you can start that will eventually make you successful.
I knew it was where I needed to start.
Accepting your limitations is also a form of self-care.
7. Set realistic expectations
Do not set goals that are too high or unrealistic.
Instead, break down your goals into smaller achievable steps.
I suffered from acne as a child.
It’s been 22 years and this year, I decided that I’d try to improve my skin.
This was not going to be a week’s worth of effort or even a month’s. It may take years.
Because I’d have to change my whole lifestyle, my eating habits, and my skincare to get the skin I want.
I may not be able to get baby skin, but I’m aiming to clear my acne for now.
It’s so important to be very realistic when setting goals.
Break down your goals into smaller achievable steps and celebrate each step along the way.
Don’t be so hard on yourself if you are not able to reach it right away.
Remember, the most important thing you can do is to show up every day.
Even if you fail, do it again tomorrow!
Just focus on being better at something by 1% every day.
Giving your grace takes time and effort, but it’s worth it.
Remember, you are worthy of love and respect, and that beings with the way you treat yourself.
Be patient, be kind, and give yourself grace.
And trust me, your life is going to transform for the best.
Here are more posts you’ll find helpful:
- 11 warm and comforting books to read during difficult times
- How to rebuild your life after losing everything that matters
- How to go out alone as a woman (safely and comfortably)
- Why does no one understand you? What to do about it?
- 9 reasons why friends come and go (this will make you feel better)
- 33 ways to become a nicer person
- 23 ways to let loose and be yourself
- How to stop overanalyzing everything and calm down
- 11 practical ways to stop letting things bother you
- 19 benefits of being yourself
- 13 easy ways to be mentally present every day
- 15 Easy Ways to have a Fresh Start in 2023
- 13 genuine ways to make every day count
- 35 honest ways to get your life together
- How to drastically simplify your life