There’s something I have been repeatedly preaching to myself the last couple of weeks: Stop bullying yourself and give yourself grace.
Many women, especially perfectionists, really struggle with this. We have such high expectations of ourselves, and when we don’t live up to them or everything doesn’t go perfectly, we beat ourselves up.
These are a few ways unrealistic expectations play out in my life:
I make a new recipe that isn’t very good and blame myself.
I go to a workout class and can’t do all the advanced options or lift the amount of weight I want to, so I feel weak.
And don’t even get me started on mom guilt. Every struggle they have or imperfection seems to be a reflection of my failure as a mother.
Why do I bully myself far more than anyone else ever has?
Why can’t I ditch this standard of perfection and show myself some grace?
What is grace anyway? It’s one of those churchy words that can be hard to define. To me, grace means that God loves me lavishly and completely even when I neglect my relationship with Him, when I am selfish or even when I royally screw up.
So if God, who knows me best and typically receives my worst, freely gives me grace, why should I be so hard on myself?
It’s time to stop bullying myself and give myself grace instead.
Or as the popular quote says, “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.”
So how do we do this in real life? These are the three things I’ve been focusing on when I realize that I’ve been beating myself up over something.
- Pray for a new mindset.
The problem really starts in my mind. My default is to feel shame and guilt when I don’t live up to my own expectations. I have to pray that God will shine light into my mind, so I can think clearly and know what is true.
- Ask yourself what is really important.
Many times, I put too much focus on the wrong things. Does it matter if a new recipe turns out mediocre? No, what matters is that my family is fed. Does it matter if I can only lift 15 lbs instead of 30? No, it matters that I am healthy and treat my body well. Does it matter that my daughter is still struggling with potty training? No, what matters is that she is happy and healthy. She will get it when she is ready.
- Choose to let it go.
Once I recognize what is true and what’s really important, I have to choose to let my critical thoughts go. This is the hardest part, because it’s easy to get sucked back into the pattern of criticizing myself. I have to repeatedly remind myself of what’s important and what’s not.
I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this. How do you fight the tendency to criticize yourself?