5 Tips to Extend Generosity to Yourself
Around this time of year, a lot of us start to think about generosity. We’re encouraged to give to those less fortunate and be a little kinder than we might normally be.
That’s all well and good, but sometimes this makes it easier to ignore what you need for yourself. You focus so much on others that doing something for yourself takes a backseat.
But it’s also okay to be generous with yourself.
In fact, when you’re running on empty and trying to be too many things to too many people, being generous with yourself is more of a necessity. It’s also important to remember that when you spread yourself too thin, you can no longer help other people because you have nothing left to offer.
As this Asking For What You Want article notes: “[It’s] important to distinguish generosity from self-sacrifice. When giving extends into making yourself smaller, not meeting your own needs, and self-denial, it’s not going to fill up the other person. It just destroys you.
So if you feel like you’ve been doing a bit too much self-sacrificing lately, here are some ideas of how you can be generous with yourself, which in turn will help you be generous with others.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
It can be hard to ask for help. Most of us don’t like admitting we don’t know how to do something, or that we messed up, but this backfires. It puts more pressure on you and can end up meaning you don’t do as good of a job as you could have.
Plus, there’s nothing wrong with not knowing how to do something! We’re all learning, all the time, and no one person can know how to do everything.
So if you find that you’re struggling with something, and you know someone who can help, don’t be afraid to ask.
Let Go of Things You Can’t Control
This can be a tough one, but letting go of things that you have no control over is one of the most generous things you can do for yourself. Instead of carrying burdens of regret or guilt or anger, you can let those go.
Of course, if you can change something, that’s even better, but if you have no way of influencing the way things have gone, it’s no use carrying that with you. It will only weigh you down.
Give Yourself Some Quiet Time
Having quiet time can be challenging for those who have other people in the household, but it’s well worth it. Maybe you can go for a walk, or sit in the car for five or ten minutes, or get up a few minutes before everyone else.
However you can manage it, having some time for quiet and reflection is such a gift. I re-discovered this myself lately after realizing that I fill most of my time with other voices – podcasts, YouTube videos, streaming shows, etc. I’ve been cutting back on that lately, and I’ve been feeling more rested and peaceful.
This means I won’t be able to listen to as many podcasts and might miss some things I’d like, but it’s well worth it for the greater sense of calm.
Treating yourself is another good option, and it doesn’t have to be with food, although it can be.
If you like holding something warm, you could put your mug in the microwave for a little bit before pouring your coffee or tea or cocoa, so you don’t have to wait for the hot beverage to warm up the mug.
You could use your prettiest, fanciest dishes, even if you’re the only one having the meal.
Maybe you like to read but don’t have much time for it, so your treat could be giving yourself even ten minutes to read each day.
Whatever it is, see if you can find a way to give yourself something enjoyable in your day.
Find Something to Make You Laugh
And finally, try laughter! And I don’t mean just a chuckle. Find something that you think is funny, and let yourself get into it until you’re laughing hard. This is great stress relief, and it’s just fun!
You can also look for humor in things that might otherwise be annoying or stressful. For example, I was trying to record something for my church the other day, just a two-minute introduction. But each time I started to talk, my cat Fezzik walked in front of the camera. This went on for over ten minutes.
Now, I could have gotten annoyed with him, or I could have just given up. But I made a bit of a game out of it, trying to see if it would keep happening. And it did. It got to the point where I almost couldn’t stop laughing because it was so funny how he’d walk off, then immediately turn around and come back the minute I tried to record again. (Eventually, I had to bribe him with food to lure him away.)
It took longer to make the video that way, of course, but I wasn’t in any rush, and it was fun for both me and Fezzik.
Self-Generosity Ripples Out
Being generous with yourself is one of the best things you can do if you want to also be generous with others. After all, when you’re feeling tired and stressed and unhappy, odds are you’re not going to feel much like giving to others.
But if you can first be generous with yourself, give yourself some quiet and time for fun, and let go of things that are weighing on you, you’ll be much happier, less stressed, and more inclined to share what you have with others.