Keisha Cameron, LMSW

What does it mean to “give yourself grace”? How do we extend grace to other people without crossing our boundaries?

Last year, during the height of the pandemic, many people wrestled with this concept of giving ourselves grace. In fact, a cult-like following was created on social media about grace giving, possibly surpassing even the most popular TikTok stars. Though this phrase is easily thrown around, committing to the actual practice of giving grace is quite difficult. In our world, the search for our own calm and stability during a hellish year has significantly increased the use of this phrase among my friends, family, and clients. When I give advice about giving grace, I often receive stares of confusion followed by the question, “what does that even mean?’

Let’s break it down a bit so that we are all on the same page about what it means to truly give ourselves grace.

Giving yourself grace is permission to forgive your mistakes, lapses in judgment, and hurtful behavior – while taking responsibility and holding yourself accountable – because we are all imperfect. It is also a way to remove yourself from yourself so that you are not defined by your mistakes, maljudgement, and harmful behaviors. For example, one can be a loving, kind parent, spouse, sibling, friend, co-worker and behave in ways that may unintentionally or intentionally cause hurt or harm to others.

If we are not able to give ourselves grace, we may consume ourselves with negative or intrusive judgmental thoughts and bash/beat upon ourselves to the point of diminishing our self-esteem. We may be so overcome with guilt and shame that we’re not able to function or show up for our selves and our loved ones.

When you give yourself grace, it is the ability to create an action plan that will help you cope with both internal and external stressors without being too harsh on yourself. This is not easy – but if you begin a practice that includes some form of self-care, building a support/accountability team, and whatever spiritual practice you engage in – giving yourself grace will become like second nature over time.

In the spirit and practice of giving yourself grace, make sure it will prompt you to take some actionable steps, however small. You cam start with cultivating a safe and nurturing self-care practice, repairing a rupture in an identified relationship that you may have caused, or taking responsibility for your choices and impact of your actions. Let’s really commit to the practice of giving ourselves grace and share this message with our social circles and on our social media posts – #giving ourselves grace!