You find yourself having grace and patience with people in your life but when it comes to giving those gifts to yourself… you are sure out of luck. As the current of life continues on it’s quick, unforgiving pace it is easy to be swept up in rigid expectations of self; expectations to be the most gracious mother, the most lovable husband, the most understanding employee.

But if we fail, cue the downward spiral of negative self talk. 

How you talk to yourself matters…

When we think harsh and negative thoughts about ourselves, we fail to acknowledge our humanness. Sounds silly right? But how many times do you simply assume your energy will keep up with a calendar full of events and then get irritated when it doesn’t? We are so busy “doing” that we forget that

  1. We are only human and
  2. Other factors may be looming in the background

Like that hard phone call you took last week that is depleting you of your joy. Or that miscarriage ten years ago that still leaves you with feelings of isolation and defeat. Or that promotion you were passed up for that follows you around like a shadow. 

When you take a step back, take into account all factors of your “here and now,” it may give you the chance to softly say “I am only human.” The way you talk to yourself matters and being gentle with your thoughts could give you freedom to ultimately feel, heal, and deal.

Could you imagine…

Could you imagine what your life would look like if you offered a little bit of grace to yourself? To-do lists are stacked high and people are depending on you but at the end of the day, you remain human, a human that is only capable of so much.

Being more gracious with yourself will bring awareness to the fact that you are a human being with emotions, breaking points and capacities. Allow space for the ebb and flow of navigating the complexity of each day so that unrealistic expectations of self can be lowered.

So where do we start? Here are a few ways to be more gracious with yourself.

1. Acknowledge what’s on your plate.

Grab a pen and paper and make a list of all the stress-inducing things on your mind. Make sure to analyze all aspects of life: family, friends, health, work, faith, romance, social circles, recreational activities, finances, etc.

Now, take a step back and look at this list. If you were consoling a friend with this list, what might you tell them? Jot that down at the bottom of the page.

Would you reassure them that there is A LOT on their plate? Maybe tell them to have some grace with themselves? Try to acknowledge that you too, have many things to attend to and you are doing the very best that you can in this moment. You are only human.

2. Learn to forgive yourself.

Rumination is a term used to describe when an individual is “stuck” on a hurtful offense by another person and continues to replay the offense without offering up true forgiveness. This act of rumination has been linked to individuals developing anxiety, depression and eating disorders (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2011). This unhealthy coping mechanism does not serve you in a positive way.

Any past regret or mistake that was made, intentionally or unintentionally, you were doing the best that you could with the cognitive tools you had in that moment; you were learning. It is now a lesson learned. The best way to defeat a mistake made, is to try and make sure that lesson does not go unlearned in the future. Forgive yourself and find freedom from rumination. Remember, again, you are only human.

3. Celebrate the small victories.

You may not be where you want to be yet. However, look at the small steps you are making towards that goal. Set aside time today to share your small victories with a close friend, a spouse, or loved ones. Sometimes we need words of encouragement from others and sometimes we simply need to be our own cheerleader and celebrate the personal achievements. Not all things can be done perfectly, all at one time. Life is complex with many moving parts but make time to celebrate the small victories, they matter.

Mandi Duncan, CMHC Trainee
Mandi Duncan, CMHC Trainee

I help people with depression find new habits that provide hope.