Offering Yourself Grace |

4 min read

We’ve all heard it before. Aging is not for the faint of heart. Even if our physical components have issues that surface and then heal or get resolved, the mental aspects of knowing there is more time behind you than ahead of you can mess with your outlook—either positively or mentally.

Pexels: Karolina Grabowska

Pexels: Karolina Grabowska

Lately, I had a two-month period that has tested my belief in the word “grace,” even though it’s part of what I named this very blog for Psychology Today. I am not a patient person. Ask anyone. Results are my personal amphetamine so that I can look back and admire the final product as well as my resolve to get things done. Ego? Perhaps. Plus the desire to somehow make a difference in even a few people’s lives or minds while I am here.

Giving yourself grace is no walk in the park, however. It’s not really a “result” of anything. It’s a gentle, kind resignation of sorts as well as a gift you give yourself—and yes, I need to learn it in no uncertain terms.

So how do you get it? While you can beat yourself up for mistakes and regrets (in my case, breaking a bone while playing pickleball knowing I wasn’t up to it that day) or out of your control (like getting COVID just a few weeks later), it’s easy to see “giving yourself grace” as a cliche catchphrase. But it’s one many of us should start taking to heart. The caveat here? Those times you need grace most are the times you’re least likely to bestow it on yourself. Keeping these truisms in mind could help.

Perfection is not reality. No one is perfect. We all mess up, say the wrong things, and/or make mistakes. The goal is to be genuine—not perfect. Because the real you is perfect—more now than ever, because with age comes that golden “I don’t give a damn” attitude that judgments favor the insecurities of the young. Period.

If you’re still messing up, congratulations! You are truly living life. While it’s fine to admit you were wrong, stop saying you’re sorry for everything under the sun. Women, especially, are well-trained in this nasty habit. All those sayings about the number of times famous people messed up before they got it right mean they had to test life before it rewarded them. They lived.

Again, on a personal note—this past year I told everyone and their mother that I was going to be a voice actor. Little did I know the amount of work, the investment, and the number of face-plants I would encounter before getting my first paying job. But I persevered, learning from my goofs, taking deep breaths, and now enjoy steady work in the industry, even though I will consider myself a newbie at it for the next five years.

Do a heavy edit to your “to-do list.” No, you are not superhuman and no one will write a blog about how you didn’t get through that list in a day. It’s OK to attack the “have-to” items and then plan to do the other half another day, even if it’s the following week or month. You’ll have time.

Guess what? Retail therapy (“me time”) works. Sure, it sounds somewhat shallow to admit it, but doing whatever it takes to lift your spirits—even if it’s ordering an inexpensive poncho on Amazon or buying a trinket at Home Goods—can be huge picker-uppers. Grace. There’s that word again. Each day is a gift, especially in your life’s third trimester.

Just do one thing a day you’re proud of. Perhaps that’s facing a fear, perfecting a hobby, or making a dent in a task that at first felt overwhelming. Find ways to be proud of yourself more often. Self-satisfaction actually affects those around you because you’re more apt to share positivity with others when you feel good about yourself.

So what does grace look like for you? Whatever form it takes, don’t sweat the small stuff. I see my broken wrist as a trophy for being active because it feels much better at my age to say I got a sports injury instead of having to say I tripped on some uneven pavement. AND, I’ve learned how to do so many things one handed.

Because this, too, shall pass. And there are so many more adventures ahead if you just cut yourself some slack.

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