Grace and Grit
We can do hard things.
At this time of year so many of us look ahead to how we want to live our lives, what the best version of ourselves looks like, and the new adventures we want to take on. There is a collective hope when people talk about going to new gym classes, making goals at the ski hill, a desire to learn a new skill, or making new friends. Underneath it there are also slight tones of anxiety or fear. We tend to let our egos take control when we get nervous about something new and then think thoughts like, “What if no one likes me?” or “What if I am terrible at it?” or “What if I hurt myself or people wonder why I am there?” This places us at the centre and pushes us to ignore that others may have similar fears, may be so focused on their own work they do not even notice you, or more than likely they are actually excited to share their passion with someone new.
Whenever your mind plays the ‘what if ’ game, I encourage you to play the opposite too. “What if people are really welcoming and I make a new friend?” or “What if it is difficult to start and then I really enjoy it and grow?” or “What if I rock this new skill and people cheer me on?”
It is scary to put yourself out there and to try new things or revisit old passions in life. The key is to be patient with yourself. Give yourself a good pep talk in the mirror, be kind and careful with your heart and your self-worth and then put on some pump up music and use all the grit you have to go out and do the thing that terrifies you, one step at a time. No one is expecting you to be perfect. You are allowed to be happy and enjoy life. If you decide you do not like it, it is 100% okay to say, “this is not for me.”
I recently learned from Dr. Kirsten Neff that the critical voice in our minds and self-compassionate voices often have the same goal: To keep us safe. This took me a little while to wrap my head around. For example, if my critical inner voice says something like, “You are going to be awful at this,” the goal of the critic is to keep me safe from feeling disappointed in myself and not good enough. Using self-compassion can help to reframe that critical thought to something like, “Every time you try something new it will be a challenge. If you keep going it will be easier each time and the nerves you feel will lessen, you can do this.” The goal here is still to keep me safe from feeling like I am not enough but the words are so much kinder and honestly more motivating.
When you offer yourself grace you are not letting yourself off the hook. The grit pushes you to do the hard thing, own that there will be challenges and push through it to live life on your terms. There is a sadness in knowing how often people let the worry of what others think, or not being enough, get in the way of enjoying life. So, go try run club, take that pottery class, sign up for a snowboard lesson, go to the party you were invited to, try a new fitness class. What is the worst that is going to happen, and if the worst happens can you handle it?
The content provided in this article is for information purposes only. It is not meant as a substitute for professional medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you find yourself in distress, please reach out to your local physician who can provide mental health resources in your community.