Move Yourself Forward With Self-Grace


Liz Jenkins

sun shining through trees

Have you ever found yourself feeling stuck? Maybe there’s something in your life that you want to fix or improve, but you don’t know how or where to even begin. This is something we encounter often with our organizing clients, and as professional organizers, we’re here to help people get “unstuck.”

It often turns out that clients have emotions and difficult circumstances surrounding the “stuff” in their home or environment, and that can lead to a feeling of being paralyzed and unable to make decisions. Throughout our organizing process, we uncover those emotions and stories, and when we acknowledge and talk about things with our clients, we can help them move on. We encourage our clients to show compassion to themselves in these situations, and that self-grace often “unsticks” them enough to make the necessary decisions and move forward.

But self-grace isn’t just something I encourage my clients to practice—it’s something we could ALL benefit from as human beings!

Perfectionism Beats You Up

man sitting at the end of a doc on a lake reflecting on his life

You’ve probably heard the age-old phrase, “Nobody’s perfect,” before. So why is it that sometimes, we expect ourselves to do everything perfectly? Sometimes, we hold ourselves to a much higher standard than we do others, and those standards for ourselves can become unrealistic. We think we should be able to keep our houses immaculate, finish all of our housework, outperform our coworkers, and take excellent care of our families 100% of the time. But, the reality is, we’re all human, and we’re simply not capable of perfection. When we’re faced with that fact, we can either beat ourselves up, or we can practice some self-grace.

Beating yourself up would sound something like this:

  • “Why haven’t I cleaned out that closet yet? It’s been YEARS!”
  • “I can’t believe I forgot my daughter’s soccer game. What kind of horrible parent am I?”
  • “I totally screwed up on that work project. I’ll never be successful!”

That kind of attitude toward yourself will build up a huge cesspool of shame and toxic guilt. When that cesspool fills your head, it clouds your brain and impairs your ability to move forward and be productive. The fear of screwing up and not being able to forgive yourself can prevent you from trying new things, going out on a limb, or taking a risk.

Self-Grace Lifts You Up

hands making a heart with sunset in the background

Perfectionism can really limit your progress—in organizing projects, at work, and beyond. So how do you get past it and show yourself some grace?

For me, I see it as a process of recognizing a situation, acknowledging what has happened (you didn’t get something done, or something happened that wasn’t great), and then forgiving yourself. From there, you’ll be able to decide what your next action should be, whether it’s apologizing to someone, offering up a possible solution to a difficult circumstance, or something else.

Let’s revisit the negative guilt and shame that would come from beating yourself up. If you applied some self-grace and gave yourself some slack in those situations, it would sound more like this:

  • “That closet is really cluttered and driving me crazy, but there are some items in there that bring up sad memories for me. I’m going to try going through one small box this month, and take it from there.”
  • “I’ve been on the sidelines cheering on my daughter at every single game. I just forgot to write this one down. People forget things sometimes, and that includes me.”
  • “I’m bummed that my work project didn’t turn out like I had hoped, but I gave it my best try. Now I’ve learned something I can carry into the next project.”

Personally, I find it difficult to admit to someone when I’ve messed up. It might be easier to keep quiet, but it’s also not healthy! Releasing your own guilt, shame, stress, or anxiety will help you ask the next question: What am I going to do to make this situation better?

Showing Yourself Grace

happy girl outside relaxing

Showing yourself grace sounds great in theory, but what does it look like in day-to-day life? First, recognize that you’re human. Everyone makes mistakes, and the first step in showing yourself grace is being willing to admit that you’re imperfect. Second, take your focus away from yourself. It’s easy to become self-centered, which leads us to believe that everyone around us notices our every mistake. In reality, it’s very possible that no one even noticed—they were probably too busy living their own lives!

Find a phrase or mantra that reminds you to cut yourself some slack, and repeat it to yourself when you start to beat yourself up. You can’t expect others to give you the validation you need– it must come from within you first. Perhaps your faith or beliefs lead you to a positive message that will help you remember to show grace to yourself in difficult moments.  

Lastly, surround yourself with people who give you grace. Find the people in your life who will set you straight when you need it, but will also help you see yourself more clearly and in a positive way. If someone is going to pick on you for your mess-ups (especially accidents!), they don’t need to be in your life. Instead, look for someone who will say, “Yes, this negative thing happened. How can I help you with it?” or, “Sure, you made a mistake, but I love you anyway.”

Self-grace will take practice, but as someone who’s learning to show herself grace right now, I can tell you that it’s worth the work!

If you’re ready to show yourself some grace and find help in organizing your home or lifestyle, A Fresh Space would love to support you on your journey. Contact us today to see how we can work alongside you to create a happier, calmer environment in your life.