Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by April? *raises hand*
This month brought lots of stress. But instead of focusing on all the negative things, I realized that this month tested my ability to self-assess and know when I need to stop the excuses or be more kind to myself. How do you know when to choose discipline over grace?
Here are a few discoveries I’ve made this month:
When to Choose Discipline over Grace
Tricky question, right?
I don’t know what you’re going through. So there is no easy answer about the best time to choose discipline over grace. But the first step to knowing when to choose either option is to know yourself. That’s why cultivating self-awareness is so important! Only YOU know if you can or need to push through the tiredness, stress, or temptation or not. Do you know yourself well enough to know when it’s time to be more disciplined?
Here are a couple of contexts where choosing discipline may be the better option:
- New Habits/Routines. Whether you want to be more intentional about saving money, practicing mindfulness at work, or spending more time with your family, no new habit or routine will form without some discipline. I typically try to push myself (within reason, of course) to choose discipline more often than not when starting a new habit.
- Excuses. What happens if we are too tired to wake up early to practice mindfulness? What if your favorite store is having a sale and you really want to buy those shoes you’ve been watching? Only you know when you are making an excuse. If you don’t know whether to choose discipline, take a moment to pause and reflect. Weigh the pros and cons of the decision. Another method is to give yourself some time to make a decision. We feel this constant pressure to keep moving and make a decision. But if you give yourself time to pause and truly consider the decision, the answer might be easier than you thought!
What do you think of when you hear the word “discipline?” Does the word have negative connotations for you?
You’re not alone. I hear the word discipline and think of punishment. But discipline can look like several things:
- Self-love. Choosing to practice discipline with enforcing professional boundaries can be an act of self-love.
- Consistency. Maybe you want to start a new habit of preparing for the workday during the night before as a way to have a relaxing morning.
Let’s reframe the way we look at practicing discipline. Discipline is not always the most difficult choice, like not eating one of your favorite desserts or not buying that new purse. Sometimes it looks like having the courage to enforce your boundaries even when they make other people upset or uncomfortable. Other times, discipline is choosing to work on a crossword puzzle or read another chapter of a book instead of scrolling through TikTok or Instagram. (I’m talking to myself here for sure!)
It’s true; sometimes discipline involves what may feel like deprivation or restriction. But what if we view discipline as involving choice?
When to Choose Grace over Discipline
For the record, my philosophy is when in doubt: choose grace. Life is hard. But WE set the tone for how we are treated. If we treat ourselves with kindness, respect, and grace, we can expect the same from others.
Choose grace over discipline when you know for sure that you are trying your best. Listen, when you truly know that you are doing your best, then show yourself grace when you don’t complete a goal or task, miss a deadline, or break a fast. Life happens. We can’t control everything. At the end of the day, it’s vital that we treat ourselves with kindness.
I’ll be the first to admit that this is not my strong suit. Like most of you, I am too hard on myself. I often place unrealistic expectations on myself and get mad when I don’t achieve everything.
But like discipline, grace looks differently depending on the situation. Maybe showing grace requires you to be kind and forgive yourself for a mistake or for not following through with your task or goal. More importantly, I think grace could mean being kind but establishing boundaries with yourself. If you overslept and missed your alarm to go to the gym or journal in the morning, be kind enough to yourself to recognize that you needed the rest but need to get serious with your routines as a way to show love to yourself.
Basically, it’s complicated.
How do you know when to choose discipline over grace? Who knows. Life is complicated! Many situations in our lives probably require a little bit of both grace and discipline.
At the end of the day, the key is to take care of yourself, whether that means sticking to your routines, goals, or intentions, practicing self-love and kindness, or something in-between.
Check out this post for more about discipline vs. grace.
In the meantime, take care of yourself.