“I’m so tired of feeling this way!” I shouted, waving my hands in the air. “I’m sick of the tears and the grief. I’m sick of my trauma spinning me out of control. Why can’t I heal? I’m better than this! Why can’t I figure out a way to move on? This is stupid! I’m over it!”
My counselor looked at me and let the silence hang between us for a moment. “You don’t need your ex to be around to beat you up. You’re doing it all on your own. Have you ever considered showing yourself a little love and giving yourself grace rather than beating yourself up for how you feel?”
My mouth fell open. Show myself grace? What did that even mean? It was clearly not something I was used to doing. And when had I allowed myself to internalize the negative words and patterns of my ex? Anger bubbled to the surface and I made the decision right then and there to show myself love going forward by giving myself grace.
What it Looks Like to Show Ourselves Grace
Showing grace to ourselves means that we need to be kind to ourselves. We need to be compassionate toward ourselves for what we are experiencing, and this isn’t always easy.
Often we find ourselves in the habit of creating expectations for how our journey should look, how our healing should progress, or how we should feel. We fall into the trap of being hard on ourselves when things don’t go as we expect they should. In some cases, we continue the abuse that we’ve physically escaped because we refuse to show ourselves this grace.
To be honest, I never considered showing myself grace or compassion for what I have experienced. When I was growing up, whenever I fell off the monkey bars or skinned my knee during a pickup game of basketball, someone invariably shouted, “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back out there!”
Yes, there are definitely circumstances where that mindset and resilience have served me well. However, when it comes to something as delicate as healing from trauma, you don’t just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on. It doesn’t roll off of you like rain on a turtle shell. And that’s where grace and compassion come in.
5 Ways to Show Yourself Love and Grace
Both you and I create expectations of how our journey and healing should look. We come up with ideas of how our progress should look, how long it should take, and how we should feel along the way. When things don’t go as anticipated, it’s easy to get bent out of shape.
Show yourself love by letting go of the expectations of how you should think or feel or how your journey should look and be open to what it is.
Ditch the Comparisons
Do you ever compare your thoughts and feelings to how you used to feel or think? Do you compare your experience to that of other people?
When we compare our thoughts, feelings, and experiences to what we’ve known in the past or what we expect them to be, we are robbing ourselves of the opportunity to experience them fresh right here, right now.
Show yourself love by stopping the comparisons and experiencing the moment as it is right now.
You and I are as human as they get. And the thing is, we have to allow ourselves to be human. We’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to experience the whole gamut of emotions. We’re going to heal and grow.
Now, as a sci-fi fan, sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to be a Vulcan like Mr. Spock. Vulcans have no emotions, only operating on logic. Sounds great when you’re hurting, right? The truth is, without our emotions, we are missing so much. Imagine watching your favorite movie without its soundtrack. The story loses so much! Our emotions are the soundtrack to our lives, and we can’t pick and choose which ones we experience. We need both the black and white keys, the good and bad notes, to compose the piece we hear.
Show yourself love by recognizing your humanity and allowing yourself to be human. It’s the only way you can begin to heal.
Judge Yourself Less
All of the things above are a form of judging ourselves. We can be so quick to judge ourselves, and often we are much harder on ourselves than others. Would you say the things that you think about yourself to someone else?
I remember saying something harsh about myself one day a few years ago. A friend I was with overheard me and exclaimed, “Don’t talk about my friend that way!”
Judging ourselves open the door for negative thoughts and for us to beat up on ourselves. This can keep us in an exhausting state of trauma, and prevent us from healing.
When we judge our thoughts and feelings, we tend to bury them. All those suppressed thoughts and emotions begin to pressurize inside us. After a while, they will explode out of you like lava does a volcano, and you’ll be experiencing them all over again. It is better to experience them as they float to the surface, without judgment, and let them go on their way.
Show yourself love by judging yourself less. Be kind to yourself. Cry if you feel like crying. Laugh if you want to laugh. Experiencing the world without judgment is healing!
Break Old Habits
One way or another, we tend to get into the habit of judging and being hard on ourselves. We beat ourselves up when things go awry or don’t turn out how we expect them to.
Habits and mindsets are super easy to form. But did you know that they can also be broken? The opposite of a habit is to approach something with intention. You look at what is happening around you, figure out what you want to do about it, and then do it. No judgment involved.
No matter how we were raised, what beliefs we have, what we’ve been told, or what we’ve internalized, it’s not too late to change course, weed out those negative thoughts, and create new mindsets and habits.
Show yourself love by breaking those old habits. When you find yourself judging or being hard on yourself, give yourself grace by interrupting the thought. Say, “Here it is again.” When you interrupt its momentum, it loses its power. Then, ask yourself, at that moment, how you can have grace and compassion for yourself.
Showing Yourself Grace
What other ways can you think of to show yourself grace? What areas do you find that you struggle to show yourself compassion? Remember to pursue progress, not the idea of perfection.
Please know that you are amazing; no matter what you are going through, you are worthy of that grace and compassion. You are worthy of love.
I hope you speak kindly to yourself today, my friend, and show yourself love and grace.
If you are struggling with thoughts of self-harm or need to talk to a counselor, click here.