Intentional Grace

Photo by Onur Binay on Unsplash

In Merriam Webster there are eight definitions of grace as a noun and two as a verb. For the purposes of this writing, grace is an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or mercy and/or the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful.

Most of us have been taught that we should give grace to others in all myriad of circumstances. We should be kind and courteous to others. We should show mercy, forgiveness, and tolerance to others. We should be considerate and thoughtful of other people’s feelings, sorrows, and tragedies.

How often do we extend grace to ourselves?

Many times, we beat ourselves up emotionally and mentally, and even out loud verbally. We place blame on ourselves and feel as if we are failures. We tell ourselves any number of lies that we have been conditioned to believe by others and our brain now considers them to be truths. But grace? Not so much.

We do not offer ourselves kindness and mercy. We are not tolerant of our mistakes and errors in judgment. We have no forgiveness of our shortcomings. Grace is not something we think of giving to ourselves, only to others.

What if we practiced intentional grace with ourselves?

When we feel as if we are not doing as well as we think we should, how about a little grace for those times. When we feel as if we are failing ourselves or our families, how about some forgiveness for ourselves. When we are short on margin and quick to anger, how about some tolerance for ourselves. When we are run down and burned out, how about some self compassion.

Grace is not meant for us to only give to others. It is also meant for us to give to ourselves. We can extend all the kindness, courtesy, mercy, and forgiveness we extend to others to ourselves. We must be able to offer that cup of kindness to our own bodies, minds, and spirits.

Think of how often you have shown grace to others. All of the circumstances in which you were able to show kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and courtesy to other people. Now try to think of all the times you have shown those same things to yourself. I wager that it is not an equal scale.

We cannot pour from an empty cup. Our own cups must be filled. And we must do the filling. Be intentional with grace for yourself this week and fill your cup.

Until next time be well,

Deborah

The Kindness Present

two woman hugging each other
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Of all the gifts to give or receive this holiday season, kindness is by far the greatest. Everyone is fighting a battle, even during the holidays. Everyone needs kindness, everyone.

Many people during the holidays are grieving lost loved ones. It is a time of year that reminds us of the people (and animals) who are no longer here with us. Grief can be overwhelming for many during this season. Even if they do not show it outwardly, they still carry it on the inside. An ocean of sadness and emotional turmoil. These people need kindness.

Other people struggle with chronic physical and mental illness and the holidays can increase these issues. Stress can increase these issues and the holidays for all their joy are often filled with stress. A little kindness can make these things seem less overwhelming.

Still others struggle with life/work stress, family relationship issues, financial issues and more. All of these things can impact emotions and physical bodies leading to stress reactions, anger, sadness, and substance use. A little kindness can let them know they are not alone.

There are people who do not have anyone to spend the holidays with for so many reasons. They are alone. They are lonely. One act of kindness could change their lives.

Even if you have family to spend the holidays with and you don’t struggle with many of these other issues, there can still be holiday stress and family dynamics that aren’t perfect even in your own celebrations. Show kindness to your own family AND to yourself. It is important, it is necessary, it is needed.

Kindness isn’t about money. It isn’t about things. It can be as simple as a smile, a word, a hug to give the kindness present this season. Remember everyone is struggling with something right now maybe even you and your present of kindness can make all the difference – to them and to yourself.

Thank You For Being Kind

warm fuzzy 2

For the last couple of years working in a high school, I have been trying to find some way to thank students for being kind.  So much time is spent on what students do wrong, in school and out, and hardly any is spent on the things they do right.  No act of kindness is ever wasted, but in our society of “what awful thing is happening right now” kindness is not very often recognized.  Media outlets traffic in tragedy, disaster, evil, and shocking, if it truly is even possible to shock people anymore, events.  Kindness if it is recognized at all is something they throw in for a second or two after we have been sufficiently inundated with the horrific.

In schools, often times, it is the students who present challenges for teachers and staff that are talked about most.  They are the students seen in the principal’s offices most.  They are the students the media creates stories around.  They are the students everyone sees and hears about.  An assistant principal can spend the better part of the day in a high school dealing with discipline issues.  It can become what those who work in schools look for and the thought of looking for kindness doesn’t cross the mind.

Believe it or not, there are kind children who attend high school.  I know many people may not believe this to be true because of all they read and hear, but I have seen it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears.  I think it’s past time to start to see this behavior more and perhaps we would see less of the less desirable behavior.

Encouraging kindness allows more kindness to grow and in the pay it forward fashion to reach out onto the strings that connect us all.  In that spirit, something I saw on Facebook last week has become my idea in action for my new office in the counseling department.  The Warm Fuzzy jar idea HERE will be transformed into this idea.  I am not going to label the jar as a “kindness” jar.  I will get some kind of jar and will likely apply some kind of appropriate Bronc Nation design and have it on the desk.  Whenever I hear or see a student showing kindness, I will have them fill out a small slip of paper with their name on the front and the kindness they showed on the back.  These will be placed into the jar and at the end of each week (if I can find someone to donate little gifts to give like cards for food places or some other little gifts), I will draw out a slip and that person will receive one of the little gifts.  The slips will then be placed on some kind of display board all about kindness with the acts of kindness showing for all to see who come in the office.  And each week, we will start the jar anew.

Being kind is such an easy thing to do, but it is not often enough the chosen thing to do.  Sometimes it isn’t easy to be kind.  If you are a student who is homeless, struggling with family issues, fighting substance abuse, or just trying to get through freshman Biology with a passing grade – kindness might not be the first reaction.  But if society is to ever have less of the horrible, kindness must become the first reaction and it must be encouraged in others in order to grow within ourselves.  “Be kind to everyone you meet, you never know what battles they are fighting.”