In pursuit of living a life of love, I'm coming to realize how immensely important it is to give myself grace. We've heard that we're our own worst critics, and it's definitely true. We can see it in our New Year's resolutions-- when we set the bar far too high and expect too much of ourselves, only to quit a month later and berate ourselves for our failure. When we hold too rigidly to our expectations, we're setting ourselves up for greater disappointment if we don't meet them. If we do meet them, we're satisfied (but probably exhausted), and if we don't, we're crushed. However, if we set more realistic goals, we're more likely to attain (and even exceed) them, and we set ourselves up for success. Small victories give us momentum to keep going, pushing ourselves forward one step at a time.
I think it's safe to say we'll all fall short of our goals at some point. But how we handle that says more about us than the failure itself. If we get back up and remind ourselves that we can accomplish our goals if we only persevere (and maybe alter our goals a bit), we build up our confidence and keep moving forward. But if we get upset and let our inner monologue fill with critical remarks, we're moving backward and letting fear get in the way of accomplishing anything except sitting on the couch with a pint of ice cream and binge-watching Netflix.
Sometimes we just need to give ourselves a break and lower the bar. If we set our sights a bit lower (not rock-bottom low, but just a step or two ahead instead of twelve), we set ourselves up for success, making it easier to take small steps forward to achieve our bigger goals. If we expect to take great leaps overnight, we might want to crawl under a rock at the first sign of failure. We're creatures of habit; it takes a while to break an old habit or break in a new one. We need to give ourselves time and room to grow.
In working towards various goals, I'm trying to remind myself often that I need to show myself some grace.
At the end of the day, when only a quarter of the things on my to-do list are crossed off, I'm going to choose to show myself grace.
I will celebrate small victories, knowing they're the key to achieving big dreams.
When I take two steps forward and one step back, I will respond in grace.
When I hear myself starting to get frustrated and upset about my inability to meet my exceedingly high expectations, I will lower the bar in grace.
I won't be afraid to dream, and dream big, but will hold my dreams loosely, knowing they might change and grow as I do.
Tomorrow's a brand new day. It won't be perfect, but it will be a whole lot better if I extend myself some much-needed grace. And I bet yours will be, too.
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