Grace and Space: Bless Your Heart

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Bless their Heart”? I was naive enough to believe the phrase meant you really empathized with someone or, “I feel your pain.” Not so.

Instagram Images – Bikurgurl 2016

At a minimum, when uttering the phrase, the intention is actually not usually said in sympathy, empathy, or even anguish. Imagine my surprise when I realized the actual meaning is one of resignation or condescension.

How did I discover this?

I was surprised to see in online groups, people complain about his Southern colloquialism in the United States. I had always found it endearing when in fact, it’s a slight to the person in question. It was difficult for me to see and comprehend because I had heard this from many people throughout my life. It never occurred to me these family members and friends would have ill will. Maybe they didn’t; maybe this is what the non-Southern people feel when the phrase is said. Maybe this wasn’t the original intention and is the current meaning of the phrase.

Bless Their Heart!

Irregardless of intent, the meaning for the phrase is condescending mainly because it’s used when talking about someone — not to someone. This phrase is used to iterate:

Let’s come to an understanding that material/job/expectations are beyond the person/employee capacity.


But let’s look at this through a different lens. What if instead we are not denigrating the individual, but instead allowing them some Grace and Space to allow for age, talent, abilities, interests, or role. What if instead of asking everyone to rise to our expectations, we allowed them to reach their own expectations. What if instead of being disappointed they lack the interest, enthusiasm, talent, or skill sets desired, we allowed them the grace to do the job they can do — not the job we want them to do.

Let that sink in.

It’s okay if others don’t share your expectations of them.

Ever had a situation like this? You want your roommates to pick up after themselves. Your employees/co-workers aren’t able to handle the work given to them well by masterful execution. You want your partner to actually put his clothes into the laundry. You’d like your children to not have to be reminded to brush their teeth. Bathe. Do their homework. You get frustrated your people don’t have the same expectations about life as you do.

Here’s something to consider: You wouldn’t meet their expectations either.


Your roommates don’t want you to nag them about their mess. Your co-workers/employees don’t want a lecture. Your partner doesn’t want to hear you get angry he/she doesn’t pick up after themselves. Your children don’t want you to be frustrated you have to remind them. Again. To do the same. Exact. Things. Every. Day. Wait, is it just me? Am I just a recovering-perfectionist-nagging-woman? In short, no. We won’t cut those we love, or at least room with, a break; how can we cut ourselves a break?

Take a good look in the mirror – proverbial or literal – and you’ll see the person you are becoming. You’re pretty amazing just the way you are. You’ve surrounded yourself with some pretty amazing people – be it family, or friends who can help with rent {if not, sorry to hear it, but maybe that’s a change to consider!}, but here it is:

Grace and Space

So maybe it’s okay that the people you live or work with don’t have the same skills, understanding, or desire to do the work you’d like to do. It’s nice to know that they don’t have to. This really goes back to setting expectations and realized your expectations aren’t everyone else’s. It’s what Grace and Space is all about — only through understanding the expectations you put on yourself will you ever be able to allow yourself the space to improve, or not, and move forward — avoiding the dreaded Analysis Paralysis {more on this tomorrow}.

Knowing what the expectations are, communicating those expectations, and realizing that you can’t {and won’t} control all outcomes can give you the peace of mind that it’s okay to not be perfect. It’s okay to take missteps and use work arounds. It’s okay to {GASP!} let it go and not complete something. All of these things are okay because it’s not the task, or the immediate thing driving you {me?} crazy that matters. It’s how the immediate thing fits into the bigger picture: LIFE.

Will this matter in an hour? Tomorrow? Next Week? Next Year? When I’m on my deathbed?

In most cases: Likely not.

Tying this back to our phrase, “Bless their Heart”, this condescending phrase may actually be grace. Stick with me here:

Even though it seems underhanded to talk behind someone’s back, whether it’s self-talk or to someone else, if you honestly are not mean-spirited and are admitting what you know to be true {through time, situation, etc.}, maybe it’s okay to say, “Bless their Heart”. Acknowledging imperfections allow yourself the grace to not get frustrated with their not meeting your expectations. Maybe your giving your roommates, partner, children….or even Employees a break.

You can give the other person grace for their lack of ability, lack of interest, lack of talent, lack of skill, lack of initiative, lack of willpower — whatever they are lacking — and

accept them as they are

When you accept the people around you for who they are, then you can adjust your expectations and

allow yourself to accept yourself as who you are.

Really? Yes.

Does this mean it won’t drive you crazy to see the mess your roommates leave behind? Leave you work to do if your employees/co-workers cannot handle the workload, by choice or otherwise? The laundry that doesn’t make its way to the hamper? The endless routine skills your children seem to forget. Every. Day. Twice.

Well, no; but it doesn’t have to.

Maybe instead of having such high expectations; expectations which are artificially set with no path for success and cannot seemingly be reached; instead lowering your own expectations, thereby getting frustrated or aggravated in the process, you could do something different. You could help your people make progress towards their goals – not yours – which will be more mutually beneficial.

Hmmm…..what a wonderful world it would be!

Change comes from within — and you oftentimes receive what you put out in the world — so give the people in your life, and by extension yourself, the Grace and Space.

Bless their Hearts


Have anything you could allow yourself a little more Grace and Space on?

Go on — I’m giving you, “Permission to Be!” -thanks Melinda. Join us for more discussion on this and more –we’re blogging, on Twitter, and Instagram 🙂

One thought on “Grace and Space: Bless Your Heart

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s