In our search for calm and stability during a hellish time, perhaps no mantra stands out as more comforting than “give yourself grace.”
It’s the refrain you can fall back on when you’re faced with daily frustrations like arguing with your childrendriving aggressively after being cut off or feeling overwhelmed by the stress of global events like the coronavirus pandemic. It offers relief in the midst of serious transgressions, such as not showing up for an important moment or betraying a promise. Give yourself grace is permission to forgive your mistakes, lapses in judgment, and hurtful behaviors, because no one is perfect.
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The saying has deep roots in yoga and religious communities, and frequently appears online as a hashtag or inspirational quote. In instagramcombining #funny and #dategracia had more than 400,000 uses in just a few months during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic at the end of 2020. While the give yourself grace hashtag on the platform didn’t grow significantly during that time, it’s waiting there (and on other social media sites) as a gentle reminder to let go of self-criticism, pity, and shame.
However, giving grace should involve more than just reassurance. It should also prompt some kind of action, whether it’s taking care of yourself, repairing a damaged relationship, or taking responsibility for your decisions. You must first learn to use it as more than a hashtag or cliché.
“Grace gives us some space, acceptance, and room to take a stiff drink or take a step back.”
“Grace gives us some space, acceptance, and room to take a stiff drink or take a step back…and practice self-compassion,” she says.
Like any other trite saying, Bondy says it can also become “empty” or “plastic” if used in the wrong context. That could be calling on it to get out of an uncomfortable situation or avoiding apologizing when you’ve hurt someone else. Grace is not an excuse to feel less internal or interpersonal conflict, but rather an opportunity to be kind to yourself.
Bondy says that when online expressions of grace are performative, they ultimately become trendy and meaningless. If someone you follow online talks about giving grace, that should come in an appropriate context and be tied to an action, such as solving problems, seeking forgiveness, or practicing acceptance of difficult circumstances and emotions.
“Don’t just say the word and do nothing to solve (a problem), or say the word and focus,” he says.
Toby Sola, director of the meditation app. Brilliant mind, think of grace as a form of equanimity. That concept is defined by openness, softness and love, qualities that allow emotions to come and go, “without pushing or pulling,” says Sola. People often want to hold positive emotions close and resist negative feelings, but equanimity can help them face each experience with warmth and acceptance. Sola says this actually increases the satisfaction derived from pleasurable experiences and at the same time decreases the distress that comes from uncomfortable feelings.
When regret and shame, for example, are met with acceptance, Sola says they are not just a source of distress, but serve an important purpose by signaling to the mind and body that it is possible to act differently in the future. . In that sense, consider taking a step with grace to make different decisions.
Discovering a grace-related social media post that offers the opportunity to be kind to yourself can help your body relax. The exhausted mom who sees a post about giving yourself grace while balancing remote school and work may feel her harsh self-judgment disappear, along with the sudden release of a clenched jaw or tense muscles.
To reproduce this sensation offline, Sola recommends relaxing your body and breathing deeply a few times. While that is not equanimity in practice, it is a step in the right direction. For a more authentic experience of equanimity, try a guided meditation while keeping your body relaxed and putting a slight smile on your face. Meditation could include a mantra such as “I give myself grace,” which should be recited in a calm, matter-of-fact tone.
If it seems forced at first, rest assured that a mantra “can seep into the rest of your being” over time, Sola says.
The danger of this practice, however, is confusing equanimity with apathy about your behavior, because everything can be approached with nonjudgmental candor.
“You should strive to improve the world, your relationships, and the way you act,” Sola says.
Equanimity used properly can help you achieve this by reducing the stress and anxiety that accompany challenging emotions and experiences, thereby freeing energy to responsibly handle tension, mistakes, and conflict.
Sola understands why the idea of giving yourself grace has been helpful to people during a time filled with suffering.
“When you’re objectively overwhelmed and sometimes don’t even know what to do to improve your situation, as many people are, you only have one option,” he says. “Greet him graciously.”
UPDATE: November 20, 2023, 2:04 pm AEDT This article was originally published in November 2020 and has since been updated in November 2023.