You’ve heard me say time and again “Give yourself grace.” But what does it mean to extend grace to yourself? To give yourself grace means to give yourself some compassion and the time and space needed to recover or bounce back from mistakes and failures without self-condemnation and shame.
Well, today, I decided to give myself the very thing I talk about quite often here on Blue Lotus Living.
When You Give Yourself Grace, Self-Compassion Comes With It
Yes, I decided to give myself some grace. Turns out, grace and compassion are a package deal. If you choose to give yourself grace, self-compassion comes with it.
What’s more, I discovered over my morning cup of “Dandy” ( a coffee replacer), that grace and self-compassion are essential to authenticity and intentional living.
Many of you may be thinking, “Okay, Carmellita where are you going with this?”
Give me a moment and like the Blue Lotus, we will rise from these murky waters and open our petals to the morning star together.
Here’s the deal. I want to be great at what I do. And I’m sure you want to be great too. For me, I get this idea in my head about what “greatness” looks like. And I’m not referring to creating a vision.
No, I’m referring to how things should look, how things should happen, and what everyone else says about how things should look if you’re “great.” It’s a lot of shoulding on myself.
“I should have done (fill in the blank) by now.”
“I should be in (fill in the blank) place in my career.”
“Perhaps, I shouldn’t have (fill in the blank).
Just a bunch of ruminating and catastrophizing! In this state of mind, I can be sure that I’m not living in the moment or the space of authenticity.
Stepping Away from Authenticity is Stepping Away from Self-Compassion
When I step out of authenticity, this is where my mind goes and I then, start to look outside myself for validation. In this state of mind, my confidence is in the toilet, and begin to I look at everyone else’s criteria for direction and validation that I’m making the right moves toward my goals.
I stop looking at the milestones and landmarks on my creative journey. Moreover, I start to wonder if I’m doing things the “right” way.
Of course, this line of thinking opens the door to perfectionism and toxic productivity. I don’t know about you, but perfectionism and toxic productivity, it’s a whole vibe for me! I’ve struggled with both throughout my life and neither has served my well-being.
And let me tell you. This morning when I woke up I was mentally headed in that direction.
You see, last night, I read a bunch of information about creative writing career paths and instead of feeling inspired, motivated, and pumped, I felt so behind. As a result, I tossed and turned most of the night trying to figure out how I could catch up.
Is it productive to strive so hard? Why not give yourself grace instead
Yes, after all the studying and work I do in the field of self-growth and development and knowing fully well that this isn’t a healthy approach to life, I was ready to build Rome in a day. I whipped out my To-do list. I was ready to do more in a week than most folks do in a year.
Then, I heard the inner voice ask, “What’s this about?” It whispered. It always whispers.
“I guess we’re going to shove ten years into seven days?” It continued.
And that’s when I could not only see how unrealistic I was being in that moment, but I could also see how inauthentic I was being as well.
I stopped. In an instant, I recalibrated.
It was an aha moment wrapped in a life lesson only wisdom could provide.
In that moment, I discovered that when I’m trying to be perfect or when I’m forcing myself to be productive, I’m turning my back on my true heart’s desires. I’ve turned off my internal navigation system and I’m trying to follow someone else’s map.
Each time I make such a choice I’m detouring away from my peace, joy, and my creative journey. As it happens, halfway through the journey, I realize I’m going places I don’t want to be. This morning I now understand, how that inauthentic journey begins.
Striving isn’t authentic or productive
And what makes it inauthentic? What makes it inauthentic is, I’m striving instead of thriving. I’m striving to get somewhere, but going nowhere. Is that productive? Aren’t I just wasting time and energy?
Throughout my life, wisdom has taught me, that when I’m striving, I swim against the current of my life. I’m not in the flow–the flow of abundance, creativity, peace, and well-being. Instead, I’m beating myself up, punishing myself for past mistakes by forcing myself to work harder to make up for where I think I’ve failed.
Friends, that shit never works.
For all intents and purposes, give your best. Do your best. Live your best. But don’t try to make up for every “shoulda, coulda, woulda” you’ve experienced.
Give yourself grace and tune back into authenticity.
Show yourself some grace and practice self-compassion. These principles are key components to radical self-care (prioritizing your well-being above all else) and self-love.
When we show ourselves grace and compassion, we can tune into the inner voice and hear from the soul, a place of authenticity within us.
This morning, I tuned back in. I sat with my journal first and then my planner and I mapped a To-Do list that aligned with my goals and my heart’s desires. The funny thing is, tomorrow will be Labor Day, but today, I choose graceful and compassionate work. I’m choosing gentle productivity and focusing on my creative journey while honoring my well-being.
Indeed, I realized we can make life difficult because we are so damn committed to making things hard when they don’t have to be.
So, I choose grace and self-compassion today. I hope you will do the same.
7 Tips For Choosing Grace and Self-Compassion
As such, I’d like to share with you a few tips to help you extend grace to yourself when you’re not feeling confident or competent
1) Extend the Gift of Time to Yourself
When self-doubt creeps in, the first step is to slow down. However, the first inclination is to rush. You don’t have to rush through life’s challenges.
Give yourself the gift of time. Give yourself time to learn, grow, and improve at your own pace. Life is a marathon and so is your creative journey.
2) Remember, the Perfectionist is a Perfect Procrastinator.
When you waste time and energy trying to make it perfect and get it ever so right, you’re actually procrastinating. In this state, you allow fear and self-doubt to guide you and interfere with your decision-making process.
Therefore, instead of perfect, choose excellence. Give your best, let go, and rest in knowing your efforts are not in vain.
3) Be your own cheerleader and best friend.
At times, you have to encourage yourself. In those moments of self-doubt, you may tune out your inner voice of lovingkindness and tune into the inner critic. You know the one, the one that hates everything!
To drown out the critical voice and tune into the inner voice, change your self talk. Remind yourself of your accomplishments and the challenges you have faced and overcome.
Give that same kindness and words of encouragement to yourself that you would give to your friends and loved ones.
Draw from that place of strength and resilience within you. Know you are capable and resourceful.
4) Practice Mindful Self-Reflection and Introspection as you give yourself grace
When you are in a state of self-doubt, ruminating, and catastrophizing all over the place, stop. Breathe. Take time to reflect on what you are feeling, and acknowledge those feelings without judgment.
Consequently, you process these emotions healthily without suppressing or projecting them onto someone else.
5) Set “realistic” goals.
For the creative mind, you have to look at realistic differently. As artists, writers, creators, and makers, we draw from our imagination, and our imagination can go wild. You may imagine yourself doing ten things in one day. Rather than making a To-do list from this imagination, sit with it and understand where this desire comes from.
Accordingly, you may discover a dream you didn’t know you had or a bigger goal it will take time to reach.
Don’t burden yourself with overreaching expectations. When you aren’t equipped to reach those outlandish expectations, you diminish your self-efficacy and your confidence goes with it.
Make your goals, manageable, measurable, and reachable. When you take this approach, you create a sense of accomplishment that expands self-efficacy and builds confidence.
6) Find community and make real connections.
Community is essential, but authentic connections in that community are crucial. Seek out the support of friends and mentors, but choose carefully.
Unfortunately, you can’t share your vision with everyone. Sharing your doubts and struggles with others may provide valuable perspectives and remind you that you’re not alone in your journey, but there is a caveat.
The caveat is to find a community that allows individuals to be individuals and make real connections with people who are going where you’re going or mentors who have been where you want to go.
7) Practice radical self-care and self-care rituals.
When you find your confidence bruised but not broken, first, lean into radical self-care and then, do something kind to show yourself love and support. Beating up on yourself doesn’t bring out your best. After all, you are a creative individual.
I won’t speak for every artist and creator, but I will say that many of us don’t perform well under shame and condemnation. Many of us find inspiration and motivation in encouragement and upliftment.
With a self-care practice that prioritizes your well-being, your rituals can include practices that help to set forth your intentions. A great example is a spiritual bath. Juju Bae, an Ifa practitioner who speaks about traditional practices in the African Diaspora on her podcast, A Little Juju stated in her interview with Allure Magazine, “Water itself can hold your intention.”
A spiritual bath is intentional. To make your spiritual bath soothing and nourishing as well as edifying for the mind and body:
- Use a combination of essential oils. Some essential oils can include Clary Sage, Sandalwood, Frankincense, Myrrh, and Spikenard.
- Or you can add an herb pack to your bath. Herbs you can use for your herb pack may include Willows Bark, Cedar Leaf, Lavendar, and Peppermint.
- Light candles and put them in safe places around your bathroom.
- Place stones such as amethyst and moonstone safely near candles.
Be sure to speak your affirmations fervently while bathing. This is a time for affirming who you are and who you are becoming.
Prioritize self-care as an act of self-compassion. Whether it is journaling, meditation, a spiritual bath, or a walk in nature, find rituals that nurture your mind, body, and spirit. These moments of self-care can help restore your creative energy and heal bruises from self-doubt.
The difference between chasing the carrot and walking the path of prosperity
Furthermore, this morning, as I chose to give myself grace, I learned an empowering life lesson. I learned the difference between chasing the elusive carrot and walking the path of prosperity.
Chasing the elusive carrot is an arduous, ceaseless grind that drains our life-force energy. The unending pursuit ties your self-worth to external validation, trapping you in a cycle of comparison and discontentment. On this path, you will continuously seek approval and recognition from others, leaving you depleted and disappointed.
On the other hand, the path of prosperity offers a more joyful and enriching journey. It acknowledges your worth and capability. And when you falter, you draw wisdom from your failure and bounce back with vigor.
Most importantly, you develop a stronger sense of purpose and contentment as you expand your gifts and talents. Choosing this path is traveling the road of genuine fulfillment, where your self-worth is not tethered to external carrots but rooted in self-acceptance and self-love.
Ultimately, when you give yourself grace and compassion, it is a commitment to self-love and self-acceptance. When we understand that, just like the blue lotus rises from murky waters to reveal its wisdom and beauty, we too can rise above self-doubt and shine with authenticity.
Yes, with these new revelations, I decided to head downstairs to the Music Swap and Ezine Festival in my building. Opening the door to my loft, I followed the music leading to the atrium and enjoyed my day.