Practicing Grace

Last month I introduced you to my thoughts about Why Resilience Matters. Resilience is your ability to withstand or recover quickly from setbacks or difficult conditions. We observe resilience as masculine (yang) energy. Cultivating resilience offers many benefits, and I have discovered it is a better path for my journey than the pursuit of happiness.

Practicing grace creates a balance between the masculine and feminine energies. It is the yin to the yang. I chose “Grace” to be a part of my brand to remind myself and others that it is something offered unconditionally. We do not have to earn it. Grace helps us remember we are love. We belong.

In Kristen Powers’ new book, Saving Grace, she reminds us that “Grace is first and foremost a matter of the heart. It’s an orientation toward the world and other people that keeps us from going down the road of judgment and labeling, which in the end harms us more than anybody else. Grace helps us navigate differences while honoring the humanity of others and ourselves.”

My dear friend, minister, and yogini, Deb Hill-Davis, shares with us her thoughts on grace: “Grace has a spiritual dimension, and to me, and it comes in moments—moments of grace when we see a reality much greater than we are. We have glimpses of the eternal, heart-opening connections with others. When we make amends and we feel truly forgiven, that is a moment of grace. When we forgive ourselves, that is a moment of grace. It is a moment when we connect with our divine nature that lifts us out of our limited human awareness and perspective.”

Grace is not always easy to practice. In fact, it can be really hard! I can find myself judging other’s actions and words quicker than I offer grace or give someone the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, when grace is not practiced, it ends up hurting me more than them.

In my own life, I am not practicing grace when I hold on to resentment, anger, judgment, and fear more than I am embracing compassion, understanding, and love. It is in in these moments that assumptions are made, hurtful words are spoken, relationships change, and trust turns to distrust. 

We struggle not only to give grace to others but to give it to ourselves as well. Think of a moment when you didn’t do your best. Did you give up and get derailed from your goals and dreams? Did you find yourself saying negative things or believing that you are not worthy? Were you hard on yourself, took things personally, or wallowed in defeat when things that didn’t go your way? I know I have done all of this. There have been many times throughout my life when I have not given myself grace.

A beautiful quote by Anne Lamott helps put into words how I feel when I do step into moments of grace: “I do not understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”

Grace is amazing.

Grace is the sweet sound that quiets my inner critic telling me that I am too much, too little, too fat, too thin, too strong, too weak, too sad, too joyful, too good, and not good enough. It smooths the rough edges when I don’t want to love myself. When I practice grace, I practice being kind and compassionate.

Grace is a powerful tool, and I believe it is the original self-care practice. When we incorporate grace into our self-care practice, which is a pillar of resilience, we give ourselves and others permission to be kind, gentle, understanding, patient, compassionate, inspiring, and intuitive.

How can you open your heart to discover grace?

Below are some tips on how you can use grace to guide you and complement the energy of resilience.

  1. See your to-do list and “deadlines” as fluid. Your lists and deadlines are a guide, but they cannot be the end-all and be-all. When you attach yourself too rigidly to your lists and strategies, it is hard to allow for mistakes and life to happen. Needs change. Things come up. Interests and priorities change. Make room for life to be fluid and you will be less likely to judge yourself and feel defeated.
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  2. Take breaks. Rest is a critical part of the journey. It is not the reward at the end. I encourage you to pause and become more self-aware of when you need to slow down and take a break. Exhaustion can lead to bad decisions, mood swings, and negative self-talk. Scheduling rests will help you get to your goals and dreams faster and you will enjoy the journey along the way.
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  3. Become mindful of your mindset and beliefs. Your mindset is your grace. By switching your perspective and self-talk to kind and encouraging words, you are acknowledging that you deserve happiness, respect, and joy. You can practice mindfulness and develop a practice that empowers you and builds your confidence through journaling, gratitude, exercise, meditation, positive affirmation, and prayer.
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  4. Ask for help and collaborate with others. When we ask for help and invite other to collaborate with us, it can bring people closer together. We can learn from each other and begin to open new avenues of communication. Even an hour spent in a heart-to-heart with a friend can be powerful. Connecting with others can bring clarity and perspective to a situation or lighten a heavy heart.
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  5. Practice forgiveness and say I’m sorry. We have all done stupid things, said things we do not mean, tried things that have failed, and given in to unhealthy vices. Practicing forgiveness and saying I’m sorry can help you move forward from a situation. Charles Feltman in his Thin Book of Trust reminds us to acknowledge and apologize. Look at a situation as a learning experience and move on shifting away from blame and shame. Remember – we are all humans on a journey not to perfection. And when we mess up, we can practice grace.

 

As we move into winter and the holiday season, invite grace to be integrated with resilience. Experience the flow between both energies.

“Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.” 

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