Am I Giving Myself Grace – Or Making Excuses?

'Giving myself grace' vs 'making excuses.' How do we know the difference?
Christi Hegstad September 14th, 2022

When I met with my coach recently, I wasn’t sure which I needed more – a motivating pep talk or a metaphorical kick in the pants.

A bit of background:

I had been through a rather challenging season. Several unexpected twists and events had caused me to take a step back, regroup, and reevaluate my priorities. If I didn’t reach a particular milestone or wasn’t as productive as I’d like, I gave myself some grace.

And I’m glad for that.

At some point, however, I realized this was no longer serving me. As I state on my About page, my favorite days – the days when I feel at my best – are those with a healthy blend of productivity and peacefulness. I had reached a point where I essentially felt neither of those things!

So I started paying attention to when I put off a task or procrastinated on a project. And I began asking a few questions:

Why am I putting this off?

What do I most need in this moment?

How will I feel seeing this appear yet again on my to-do list?

Just pausing to briefly reflect in this manner – rather than throwing up my hands in apparent overwhelm – did wonders. And the answers I happened upon were quite telling, too.

For example, I realized I was regularly putting things off due to reasons we often put things off: fear, uncertainty, a sense of ‘But I shouldn’t have to do this!’

With that awareness, I could more honestly address what I most needed in the moment. Sometimes it was grace, sometimes it was self-compassion, sometimes it was a firm self-talking-to.

Often times it was a quick walk around the block to clear my head and come back ready to start fresh.

And my answer to the third question, about seeing it on my to-do list another day or week? In most cases I knew I’d feel even more deflated and demotivated! That was frequently enough to kickstart me into motion – whether that meant doing, delegating, or removing it from my list altogether.

In the end, I don’t think my title question was truly an either/or – but rather an and. I needed to give myself grace – and rest, and compassion, and room to breathe – for a period. And when that eventually felt more like making excuses and was taking its own kind of toll, I needed to shift into action and decisiveness and confident, motivating self-talk.

It’s rarely black or white. I’m learning to live in the gray.

(Sometimes, anyway.)

How about you? Do you notice a difference between giving yourself grace and making excuses? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


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