16. Grace vs Tough Love

How are my favorite people today?  Recently I attended a conference with fellow coaches and during lunch we started discussing how I lost 100 pounds and my journey where I started by doing it out of hate for myself into doing it out of love for myself.  That quickly morphed into the subject of grace and how people tend to use it as a pass to get what they want in the moment, over what they want long term.  It occurred to me that maybe I was using grace a little too much and I really started thinking about the difference between grace and tough love.  I think anytime you’re working on a goal for yourself, applying both are appropriate, but when is grace and tough love applied in order for you to keep moving towards your goal, instead of sabotaging yourself out of never reaching it?

There’s a delicate balance between grace and tough love.  Touch love is exactly how it sounds.  It’s tough, but it’s out of love for who are showing the love to.  However, if we’re not careful tough love can turn into bullying.  It can sound like “you have to do this” and can turn into giving yourself an ultimatum, “if you don’t do this, then….”  Now, only you know how this ultimatum feels.  If it motivates you, great!  As long as you’re not motivating out of dislike or hate.  Hate might motivate, but it’s not allowing you to enjoy the journey.  And you can only hate yourself so much until you buckle and just can’t do it anymore because you’ve worked your self-confidence into this little dark corner with nowhere to go, but to your knees and give up. 

So really be aware of how your thoughts are causing you to feel.  If it feels icky or grasping or leads you to scarcity, then yes, you’re being tough, but you’re forgetting the love.  I really think we tolerate bullying ourselves way more than we’d tolerate ourselves treating someone else the same way. This is why I like to go outside myself and figure out how I would apply tough love to my kids or someone else I really care for.  Can you treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping?

When you love someone, you’d do anything for them.  You’d go to the ends of the earth, making sacrifices for them, all because you love them and want the very best for them.  So if you’re applying love to yourself, you’re also making sacrifices for yourself.  Are you willing to sacrifice what you want now to be able to have what you want more in the future?  That sounds more like tough love for yourself.  Are you willing to do anything for you, out of love for you?  That’s love.  Then are you willing to do what’s tough for you, what’s uncomfortable for you now, so you can have what you want more for your future-self?

If you’re still learning to find that fierce inner love for yourself, try to see your future-self not as you, but as a best friend?  Can you separate it just enough to find that space to love and apply tough love?

Grace is recognizing that you are good enough with who you are, right where you are.  If you are applying grace to others, you’re allowing them to be who they are, where they are on their journey.  You’re allowing them the space to have their standards, their beliefs, and their opinions.

Grace for yourself is recognizing you have deep engrained standards, beliefs, and opinions for yourself.  It’s realizing that maybe your deep beliefs and opinions your have for yourself aren’t serving you, aren’t driving you to show up how you’d choose when in your logical brain, and then accepting you anyways because that’s where you are.  If you’d rather show up differently then you are, the fastest way to level up is to have grace for you.  To see what you’re doing and then accepting that you did it.  Allowing yourself the grace period needed.  A grace period is the space of time given before a penalty is imposed.  In this case, the penalty would be self-judgement.  So before you jump to judging yourself, wishing you were different because you think you’re not enough right where you are, give yourself a grace period to recognize that there are no time machines.  We can’t go back and change it.  This is where you are and that’s okay.

When you allow yourself to just be there, can you start to find compassion for yourself?  When you’re taking it all in, maybe think about why you made those choices, why you were thinking the way you were.  Give yourself the space to just be.  This is your grace period.  Your moment of reflection and learning. 

The alternative would be not allowing you a grace period and quickly jumping to self-judgment, which usually leads to shame. And shame ultimately comes from thinking there’s something wrong with me.  And when we’re thinking that, we begin to loop in our actions and can’t figure out why we can’t snap out of it.

For example, if we are trying to lose weight or just eat healthier, and we eat out of sync with our plan, we judge ourselves because “I wasn’t strong enough”, “I gave in to temptations”, or we keep asking ourselves “why can’t I get this right?”  All these thoughts breed shame and then because you’re feeling so crappy about yourself, you continue to eat out of sync and you keep finding evidence that you aren’t strong enough.  You prove to yourself that you can’t get it right.

When we get so caught up in the day to day, we start doing things without even being aware of what we’re doing. It’s easy to do something based on a knee-jerk reaction and then not even become aware what you did until after you did it. I think this is where grace can come in. It requires grace and forgiving yourself for just being OK with where you are, forgiving yourself, and then moving on.

When it starts to hurt us, is when we start using grace as a pass and not doing the hard things. So, am I going to have grace for something I already did?  Yes, because I can’t change that. However, if I am aware of what I’m doing before I’m doing it, and it’s not something that’s going to help me reach the potential I am striving for, then it’s time for a little tough love. It’s time to sacrifice what you want in the moment for something that you want that’s far greater in the future. So I think it’s really good to have grace for yourself when there’s no going back and changing it because that keeps you out of the judgment spin and all of the thought loops of why you should be a better person.

Grace is good to help you when you catch yourself not showing up as your best self. There are so many people who say “I didn’t even realize I was doing it until later.”  Then the first step would be to become aware of what you’re doing and where you are not showing up how you want.  If it’s right after you’ve done it, you notice that, apply grace so you don’t judge yourself for being where you are, and then think about how you can catch yourself sooner and you begin to take baby steps backwards.

Maybe you become aware of your actions right after and then maybe you notice yourself halfway through it and so on.  It’s typically a matter of taking the baby steps and becoming ultra-aware of what you’re doing.  It makes sense that it’ll take time to rewind your thinking because  90 – 95% of all of our thoughts that we have each day are ones that we are rethinking from the previous day. So it takes a massive amount of forethought to start changing your habits and start changing your thoughts around those habits.

I say that grace is needed in any part of the process except the beginning. If you can hear your conversations in your head before you do something, then that’s when tough love is practiced for the future potential you.

So if you’re a mom who wants to stop yelling at your children and the first time you catch yourself is after you’ve done it, which is very normal, as soon as you realize you’ve done it, that’s where you apply grace.  That’s where you apply forgiving yourself for making that decision to yell, then having grace for yourself, being OK with where you’re at and then decide, OK, can I catch myself in the middle next time? Think through how you would have rather showed up in that moment.  It’ll rewire your brain for the next time it happens.  We call it mental rehearsal.  Imagine yourself in the same situation and then imagine yourself showing up as your ideal self from the beginning to the end.  Make a goal to catch yourself sooner.  The next time you’re yelling, maybe you’ll catch it mid yelling or towards the end of it.  You stop yourself and think about how you predesigned how you wanted to show up and then you move forward as your better self.  Apply grace for the yelling you did do and then mentally rehearse again how your best self would show up.   

And if you can catch yourself in the middle next time you offer yourself forgiveness for yelling, you apply grace for being good with who you are, where you are and then you try again. And you keep trying until one day, you are so aware of your thinking that you say to yourself, “well either I can yell at my child or I can do this other thing instead.”  You can do whatever you planned on doing instead of yelling, like talking calmly to them or walking out of the room until you can compose yourself. And when you have those thoughts beforehand then that’s where you apply the tough love. It’s the tough love for yourself to not engage in the fight, to not yell, because you’ve chosen for yourself that that’s not how you want to be showing up, and then you take the action that you decided you would do instead.

You can apply this to anything you want to level up on.  Because leveling up takes tough love to get there.  Tough love is leveling up because you want to increase your potential.  You want to practice possibility.  Not to be better, because remember, you’re good enough right where you are, but to increase your possibility.  To go for dreams you never thought possible, and if it takes longer to get there, it’s ok, because of grace, you’re already good enough right where you are so there’s nothing wrong with you for taking longer than expected or taking longer than others.  Because of grace, you can enjoy your journey and because of tough love, you’re not going to give up because you are practicing potential.  Your potential is only limited by your belief in yourself.  So when you apply grace, knowing you’re good enough just the way you are, then what are you?  Limitless.  What is your potential?  Limitless!

The tricky thing is when we confuse giving ourselves a pass and calling it grace.  Sometimes, when we don’t want to apply tough love, mostly because it’s easier not to, we decide in the heat of the moment that we’ll just be okay with who we are, where we are, so we don’t have to feel the uncomfortable feelings of going through the fire.  If you don’t know what I mean by that or if you have forgotten, I encourage you to go back and listen to podcast #5, The Fire of Connection. 

Going through the fire is allowing us to transform into our potential.  So how do we know if we are giving ourselves a pass or applying grace? How can we be on to ourselves?  I’ve found that the answer lies in our results.  Say you’ve decided you want to level up.  You set a goal and then you promise yourself certain actions that you will do in order to reach this goal.

Let’s say you want to lose 10 pounds. Your certain actions might be to eat healthier, which might include not eating sugar for a while.  Then you go to a party and there sits the yummiest treat you’ve ever seen. You start to hear the angel and devil in your thoughts have their face off. The devil tries to convince you that you’ve been good all day, or all week, so having this one treat that looks so delicious won’t hurt.  The angel says, you’re right, you have been good so why stop now? The devil convinces you that you’re looking and feeling great and should be good with who are, where you are.  You should just love yourself because it’ll taste good.  The angel hears you should love yourself for who you are, which is true, but it’s only a half truth. Here’s the entire truth. You decided before, that you were going to transform your potential.  Not because you don’t love yourself, but because you do love yourself.  If you have enough awareness to think all of this through before you take action, then it’s time for tough love.

I’m guessing that if you decide you’re okay with yourself in the moment, then you’re just giving yourself an excuse to get what you want now.  Because what are your results if you do?  Maybe you’re okay with eating the treat, but then when you feel the difference in your body, or you see the weight tick up on the scale, or you just feel guilty because you remembered your reason to increase your potential and then what happens?  You start judging yourself again.  So you basically just delayed self-judgement.  There’s no judgement in grace, so delayed judgement means you were giving yourself a pass.

If we are applying too much grace, we stay stagnant or go backwards in our goals.  I believe that if we apply grace and don’t feel a true sense of being okay with who we are long term, then we won’t continue on our path of potential.  We don’t try to level up because if we’re honest with ourselves, we’re still in judgement of the things we are doing.  Remember, grace is being okay with who we are, where we are.  It doesn’t mean that things won’t be hard.  It means, we’re okay that we need to struggle through it because that’s where we’re at.  And tough love is because we love ourselves enough for the future person we are trying to become.

I’ve thought about this a lot and grace comes into play when you’ve caught yourself already in the process of going back on the promise you made to yourself.  It helps us stay out of judgement and keep moving forward.  It’s us recognizing that we are human and are still working towards a higher self. 

Grace isn’t premeditated action.  Knowing that you’re going to go off your goal because you all of a sudden decided you’re going to be good with who you are, is not grace.  It’s a premeditated pass that you’re calling grace.

I totally fell into that for a while myself.  It’s so easy to take what we want in the present without thought because immediate gratification feels good in the moment.  Becoming a higher version of ourselves usually doesn’t feel good in the moment.

I think what it came down to for me is, if I’m capable of catching my thoughts before I break my promise to myself, then that’s tough love.  Tough love for me and who I want to become.  Anytime I catch myself breaking my promise, that’s when I stop, apply grace and then start where I’m at to continue forward with my goal.  Just as I was explaining with the mom wanting to stop yelling at her kids.  As soon as she realized she was yelling, she stops and then starts practicing her pre-planned action that she mentally rehearsed.  And it goes the same for any goal.

Remember, your potential is only limited by your belief in yourself. Hold on to your goals, master the balance between tough love and grace, and make you and your potential limitless!

That’s my thoughts for today.  Have a brilliant week!


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