I recently asked my Instagram friends whether they think they are too hard on themselves or not hard enough. 78% of responders said that they are too hard on themselves. 78 percent. I’m not surprised at the high percentage, but I do want to help balance out how we treat ourselves. But the question is how do you know when you need to show yourself some grace? On the flip side, how do you know when it’s time to be disciplined? I don’t have the answers but I look forward to exploring the topic. The content series for April 2021 is Grace vs. Discipline: How to Balance Self-Care.
Grace vs. Discipline in Self-Care
As a Christian, the first thing I think of when I hear the word grace is forgiveness. In the self-care content, perhaps grace means being patient with yourself and extending that same patience to others. It’s forgiving yourself when you don’t have the energy to complete every step in your morning or evening routine. It’s understanding that sometimes you might break your no-spend or need to be patient with yourself as you grow and become a better person.
What do you think of when you hear the word discipline? At first, discipline has a negative connotation for me. Unfortunately, I think of the deprivation of something. For example, if you want to improve your spending habits, you may decide to practice discipline by making coffee at home rather than buying it from Starbucks every morning.
Let’s reframe our thinking of discipline, especially in the self-care context.
When we practice discipline, we often deprive ourselves of something for a greater good. In the coffee example, perhaps the greater good is saving money for a bigger purchase on your wishlist or paying off debt. This shift is so real in the self-care context. We practice discipline in self-care by creating routines and tracking our habits.
How to Know What to Choose
So how do we know when we are being too hard on ourselves or not hard enough? It’s tough to decide. Both grace and discipline are forms of self-care depending on the context and situation. The good thing is that we know ourselves well enough to know the difference. We just need to step back and take a closer look.
Here are a few considerations for deciding between whether we need more grace vs. discipline:
- Check in with yourself and do it often. We know ourselves better than we think we do. We can decide what’s best for us in a situation (whether to show ourselves grace or be disciplined) as long as we are in tune with ourselves. If you are not in tune, try journaling! (Remember last month’s series about cultivating self-awareness?) If you’re not a fan of writing or drawing as a form of journaling, reflect on your day at night. Ask yourself questions about your goals and progress with your intentions. One of my favorite activities to do when I don’t feel like journaling is to talk to myself aloud. For example, I slacked off with my yoga routine a couple months ago. There were some days I’d check-in with myself and realized that a nap would be more beneficial for me than yoga. Other times, I’d have to be honest with myself and realize that I’m just being lazy. Whatever your method is, be sure to self-reflect. This reflection will help you discern whether you need to be patient with yourself or be harder on yourself.
- It depends. I was surprised that I didn’t receive more comments on the question in my Instagram stories. If you ask me if I think I’m too hard on myself or not hard enough, I’d tell you that it depends (my favorite lawyer-ly answer). But that’s the honest truth! I am an overachiever, so I am way too hard on myself with my businesses, career, and other professional-related goals. By now you probably know that I’m vocal about slacking off with my financial and physical self-care intentions! I’m sure you can relate to being to harsh in certain areas of your life but not hard enough in other areas. Let’s approach the grace vs. discipline topic with this nuance in mind. Chances are, we are too hard on ourselves in certain areas of our lives but not hard enough in other areas.
- You are doing your best. At the end of the day, if you still don’t know whether you are being too hard on yourself or not hard enough, err on the side of caution and show yourself grace. We are doing our best and probably being too hard on ourselves more often than not! Being kind to ourselves is such an important act of self-care. I think we’d all prefer to show grace rather than discipline in times where we aren’t sure of the answer.
It’s hard to discern the right decision about whether to show ourselves grace vs. discipline! The key is to recognize that although each situation is different, we know ourselves better than we think we do. When in doubt, check-in with yourself and be honest. The answer is there.