The Importance of Grace This Holiday Season

Hi, Dr. Sarah here. This blog post will be a bit different. We are going to talk about the importance of giving yourself grace. Normally, I talk about an injury or give some advice on how to prevent injury and from the plural first person point-of-view. I am going to break my own rules (I made them, so I can break them) and switch things up to the singular first person point-of-view as we approach the holiday season.

In my experience talking with people while they are navigating from being injured to being injury-free, they typically blame themselves along the way for something that goes wrong.

If I wouldn’t have gone for that run, my foot would be better by now.

If I would have been more diligent about stretching before that workout, my knee wouldn’t have flared up.

If I didn’t have to stand at work, my back wouldn’t hurt so much.

You get the picture. Something goes wrong – something that may or may not have been within our control – and we blame ourselves. I would like to suggest (based on the conversations I have had with hundreds of people navigating these situations) that we often place more blame on ourselves than we need to. I am not suggesting that we forgeo individual responsibility and consequences for actions. But, I am suggesting that perhaps it would be in our best interest to be nice to ourselves when we do mess up.


Let’s logically break it down.


Situation 1: We fail. We blame ourselves and tell ourselves we should have done better and that we are a failure. We experience shame. We may withdraw a bit from those around us or be cranky that we did not measure up to our standards. Nothing changes.

Situation 2: We fail. We acknowledge that we did not do what we wanted to do and we give ourselves grace. We ask ourselves why it happened instead of engaging in negative self-talk. We do not look for the easy answer of “I didn’t have time.” We analyze the situation for the real cause. Perhaps we determine that we did not accomplish what we wanted to because we did not plan ahead. Maybe we realize we did not succeed because we need more accountability. Once we find the real answer, we look ahead and figure out how we can set ourselves up for success in the future. We make a plan for the future. Next time, we succeed.


running with knee pain
There is a huge difference between utilizing negative self-talk to make ourselves feel bad because we think we should feel bad and acknowledging our shortcomings so we can plan to do better in the future. Making ourselves feel bad does absolutely nothing productive. In fact, one could argue it makes us less productive because we are less motivated to change something about our lives because we think we are a failure.

The reason I wanted to write this post is because lately I have seen a lot of individuals journey through physical therapy and react to ‘failure’ with the response in situation 1. Throughout the physical therapy process, 99.99% of people will experience a situation where they do something that sets them back or makes it take longer to get better. And that is completely normal and okay.

This is where the importance of giving yourself grace comes in. If you have two young kids at home and were instructed to do exercises 3x/day but on half of the days between your appointments you were so busy running around after your kiddos that you only did the exercises 2x/day, it is okay. If you get back pain while sitting but are required to sit for your job, even though it will make it take longer to get better, that is also okay. If you had a death in the family and need to postpone physical therapy for a month so you can deal with end-of-life matters, it is perfectly understandable.

Yes, there may be things these individuals can do to work around the current situation, and we do our best to get creative with problem solving, but sometimes things are just too much and boundaries and priorities come into play. It may be more important to a new mom to pick up her child on a regular basis than it is to make her back pain go away on a perfect timeline. It may be more important for someone who works in the trades to continue working and prolong the healing process than it is to take a month off work so he can heal.

Life happens. It is not about making sure everything looks perfect and all the ducks are lined up in a row. It is about doing the best you can with what life throws at you and giving yourself grace with what does not get done.

grace is balance

So, this holiday season or throughout the injury you are dealing with, give yourself the permission to give yourself grace. Let yourself have a Christmas cookie and not worry about the calories. Choose to spend the extra time with your kids instead of getting a workout in (or send them to Grandma’s and do the workout because you finally are no longer quarantined and want some time to yourself). Make the decision that you need to make for your overall health, not the decision you feel you are supposed to make. Live life the way it is meaningful for you and give yourself grace when you do not achieve perfection.

And, if you are injured and want to see a healthcare provider that gets life, gives you grace, and treats you with compassion, while also holding you accountable, schedule a discovery session here. We are here for you and we are in this thing called life together.

grace together

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