As we live and learn, it is wise to develop a “life is going to happen” survival kit. I don’t believe in wasting my trauma or difficult experiences. If I have come through something, I want to learn from it and be better prepared if it appears again. I also like to share my experiences in hopes of encouraging someone else. A few of the tools in my survival kit include trusted advisors, self-confidence and proven resilience.
I have a community of family, friends, mentors and sponsors who will tell me what I need to hear even if it is not what I want to hear. I have done the work to shift my mindset to a place of self-belief and confidence. Because I believe that I can, I either can accomplish it now, or I can learn what is needed to accomplish it later.
I no longer talk myself out of experiences before even trying. I have a lifetime of obstacles that I have overcome that prove my resilience and gives me confidence that I can face what will come. They have all served me well and I am grateful for each of them; therefore, gratitude is another item in the survival kit! Additionally, there is grace. I rarely hear it spoken of outside of my church community, but grace is vital in all aspects of my life.
Grace is an integral part of self-care. Grace in simplest terms means to give yourself a break! Find a way to truthfully look at a situation, and when you fall short of expectations, tell yourself that you are OK. Although things did not go as planned, or you did not perform or react as you would have liked, see it as a learning opportunity.
There is nothing to be gained from beating yourself up or pretending that it did not happen. Neither of these extremes foster growth or learning. There are parts of our personality and how we move through the world that we are not as aware of as we can be. Those areas make up our shadow side.
When we respond in a way that is out of character, something has triggered our shadow side. It is advantageous to study the reaction and what caused it. Give an honest look at the situation and learn from it. You will become more aware of your full persona than you were prior to the incident.
The improved self-awareness positions you to manage this or similar situations better in the future. That is growth. When you are able to show yourself grace, you are more likely to be able to show it to others.
External grace is exhibited when you give someone the space to make a mistake or disappoint you without repercussion. It is not about allowing someone to mistreat or take advantage of you. It is about allowing them to learn from a mistake without the added pressure of your disappointment or judgement.
If the situation becomes about managing your feelings, the person may lose what they could learn from the situation. Your feelings are important and to truly move forward, they may require attention. However, in the moment, grace keeps the focus on the other person and provides a safe place for reflection and growth. Because your feelings are valid, grace is a gift. You are making a decision to allow the focus to remain on the other person.
Putting the Pieces Together
- Grace is kindness to yourself and others in action.
- Grace honors our humanity and makes space for growth and development.
- Grace is affirming.
- Grace is forgiving.
- Grace does not define someone by one moment. It separates the action from the person paving the way for redemption.
We will not get it right all of the time. We are fortunate if in those lower moments, we are met with grace. Leading with grace is a choice that can make life more bearable for you and anyone who receives it. Life is so unpredictable, and we face challenges of different severity regularly.
We cannot control what arises, but we can control how we respond. We can control how we treat ourselves and others when difficulties arise. Fill your survival kit with items that help you overcome life’s challenges. Add an extra helping of grace because we all need it from time to time.