5 Things You Need to Give Yourself

by | Dec 6, 2023

Are you a giver? Me too.

Being a giver, and living the generous life, is the best! I believe life has no meaning without it.

I’m the type of person who often picks up other people’s check at a restaurant.

I’m the type of person who makes and keeps “blessing bags” in my car for homeless people.

I’m the type of person who donates often to charity.

I’m the type of person who has done care giving for multiple people in my life.

I’m the type of person who gets multiple calls or emails a day from people in my circle who need a listening ear/wisdom/help.

I’m the type of person who will readily make a meal for someone in need.

I’m the type of person who takes cares of the children in our family when needed, if I am available.

There’s not even a day that goes by where I’m not helping someone.

So with all that said…

It can also be exhausting! If you live this type of life, then you know! If you are a giver and you don’t do things like take a day off, keep a weekly Sabbath, take all of your vacation time, and other practices such as that, you will burn out real quick.

I have also come to believe it’s important to give ourselves the following five things. By no means am I saying we should be limited to these five practices, but it’s a good start.

Give yourself grace

Although I’m a person who tends to have high expectations, I also extend a lot of grace to others. I’m a big believer in second chances, and forgiveness, and having understanding of a person’s situation or context. I don’t expect the same thing out of one of my leaders who is going through cancer as I do one who has no serious crisis in their life at the time. There are times to give grace to others, and sometimes to give grace upon grace. Over the years I’ve been less willing to give that same grace to myself, thinking I should have known better, I should have tried harder, I should have pressed in with more fervency.

I have realized the importance of releasing myself from all those “shoulds.”

Max Lucado says:

“When grace moves in, guilt moves out.”

The longer I live, I have been more willing to see that I am as much in need of grace as the next person. There are days I grant myself grace and give permission to move slower, or not be as much on my game, or to start over and try again.

Give yourself time

If I am not intentional about it, I tend to give others in my life the best minutes and hours, and save the scraps for myself. I will give everyone else the prime time in my life (for example, my mornings…I’m a morning person) and give myself the last moments before I drift off to sleep, when I’m exhausted. I have revisited this practice and realized, I am worthy of some of the prime time too.

Anne Lamotte says:

“I’ve heard it said that every day you need half an hour of quiet time for yourself, unless you’re incredibly busy and stressed, in which case you need an hour. I promise you, it is there. Fight tooth and nail to find time, to make it. It is our true wealth, this moment, this hour, this day.”

Giving yourself time to just be rather than do, is critical. Learning to be happy while you are alone — in solitude — is also a key to personal health and growth.

Give yourself time outdoors

Taking the gift of time a step further, give yourself time outside.There’s something about being outside that sets me right side up again.  Have you heard of forest bathing? It will change your life! This term was coined by the Japanese, and it basically entails spending time in nature.

Sunny Fitzgerald explains:

“The Japanese quickly embraced this form of ecotherapy. In the 1990s, researchers began studying the physiological benefits of forest bathing, providing the science to support what we innately know: time spent immersed in nature is good for us. While Japan is credited with the term shinrin-yoku, the concept at the heart of the practice is not new. Many cultures have long recognized the importance of the natural world to human health.”

Forest bathing doesn’t have to be literally in the middle of a forest, or on a park trail. Your own neighborhood may be conducive to forest bathing. Mine here in Florida very much is, and not only enjoy walks outside, but they are transformative for me. I get some of my best ideas on walks or bike rides. I have solved more problems as a result of a walk than I can count.

Give yourself compassion

I will confess that at times my self-talk is awful. I don’t believe people live with no regrets, as is often encouraged. All of us have made mistakes. To say one has no regrets is like saying you’ve lived a perfect life. There are plenty of things I wish I had a do-over on. At times, those thoughts are overwhelming. I have made some stupid decisions in life, that I can’t take back. (I can go forward, but a do-over isn’t possible.) When I become overwhelmed with those thoughts of the wrong decisions I made , I need to tell myself, “Deanna, you didn’t know what you didn’t know at the time. You acted on what you knew, or what you felt — which was limited at the time. Now that you know better, you do better. Extend yourself some grace.” This is the intersection where grace and compassion meet, and it’s critical to give it to yourself.

There are times I’m dealing with an everyday bad decision such as eating a whole bunch of potato chips and say to myself, “Oh Deanna…you’re such a weak idiot. You can study and earn a doctorate but you can’t even stop eating potato chips? What’s wrong with you? You’re a loser!” In those moments, I have to tell myself, I have weaknesses, yes. But I am not an idiot. I am not a loser. I have issues, but I am not any of the names I sometimes refer to myself as. When I do that, it’s necessary to advocate for myself just as I would a friend if someone stepped forward to call them an idiot or loser. I tell myself, “No! That is NOT what I am,” and then get up and try again and lean on God to help me in my weakness. Jack Kornfield once said, “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.” How we speak to ourselves is super important. We can be our own worst enemy!

Particularly for the person who prioritizes giving to others, it is critical to understand that if you do not give yourself compassion it is virtually impossible to give it to others.

In his book, The Seat of the Soul, Gary Zukav says:

“If you are unkind to yourself, you will be unkind to others. And if you are negligent of yourself, you will be hat to others. Only by feeling compassion for yourself canyou feel compassion for others. If you cannot love yourself, you cannot love others and y ou cannot stand to see others loved. If you cannot treat your own self kindly, you will resent that treatment when you see it in anyone else. If you cannot love yourself, loving others becomes a very painful endeavor with only occasional moments of comfort. In other words, loving others, or how you treat yourself, is your own dose of your own medicine, that you really give to others at the same time.”

 Give yourself celebrations

Don’t always wait for someone else to do it for you. That day or time may never come. This may sound a little crazy, but I buy myself flowers. I tell myself, “you did a great job on that, Deanna…we’re going for coffee!” and it’s just me, myself and I in the car! I sometimes treat myself to a new book, a new outfit, a new pair of shoes or something of that nature when I’ve accomplished something. I tell myself, “You did a great job on that project. You’re getting a pair of shoes to celebrate!” I believe that so many times we tie our happiness to what other people do for us. Instead of asking other people for what I want, I get myself what I want and anything else they may do for me is gravy. You can either spend the majority of your time being greatly disappointed or pleasantly surprised. I would rather go after what I want myself, be content with that and pleasantly surprised if anyone decides to do something for me. Again this might sound kind of weird, but I buy myself what I want for my birthday. I don’t want for someone to do it for me. If I was single, I’d probably buy myself my own diamond ring and put it on my finger, and stop waiting for a man to put one there. And no, I am not kidding!


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