Guest author, Amy Phillips-Gary at Personal Growth Planet shares her thought with us on generosity and self esteem.
When I describe someone as “generous,” I am usually referring to the way that the person gives of his or her time, energy and resources to others. Generous acts can range from donating money to those in need to spending an afternoon volunteering to letting your spouse have the
biggest piece of pie.
Recently, I was invited to re-think generosity. A teacher of mine talked about her upcoming birthday and the ways that she was planning to celebrate it. She spoke of being generous to herself and she encouraged each of us to follow her lead and be more generous with ourselves.
For me, this was a completely new way to think about generosity.
It can feel a bit extravagant or even self-centred when I consider focusing my generosity on myself. Especially for people who struggle with low self esteem, there is an aversion to lavishing much of anything on one’s self. This actually amounts to being stingy and it is a stinginess that starts with the self. Consider:
- Do you regularly put off doing what nourishes and revitalises you and, instead, do that one more thing for your family or coworkers?
- Do you often choose the cheaper option (of clothing, food or entertainment), even if you can afford it?
These are just a couple of ways that you might be stingy with yourself. Yes, there might be logical reasons for your decisions, but this can become your way of living. Lurking beneath this stinginess is often self-denial, beliefs of worthlessness and a sense of being limited that pervades your relationships and life experience.
If, for example, your habit is to limit and hold back from what you really want, you’re probably also holding back in your love and intimacy with those closest to you. You might give and give to others without really being present and engaged with the giving.
You might also give so much to others and deny yourself that you end up drained, burned out and with nothing left to give.
Ultimately, I urge you to be more generous to yourself because you actually DO deserve it. You truly ARE worthy of the abundance and special care that – deep down inside – you are craving. I also encourage you to be more generous to yourself because it will allow you to be more genuinely generous with others.
If you’re new to self-generosity, get started with these 10 suggestions:
#1: Remember to smile and laugh.
It’s amazing the way that smiling and laughter can lighten you up and create an environment of self-support and love. You’re more fun to be around when you’re this way too!
#2: Really open up and receive love and kindness from others.
When someone in your life offers you a compliment, a hug or does something nice for you, really receive it. Pause and soak in the love you’ve just been offered.
#3: Ask yourself, “What do I want to do today?”
Try this simple practice when you get up first thing in the morning and throughout your day. Ask, “What do I want to do today?” and listen to the answer. Yes, there are plenty of things you “have to” do, but there are plenty of opportunities for choice as well.
#4: Stop before criticising yourself.
Our culture is rampant with self-criticism and this habit creates insecurity and stress. Listen to yourself talk and when you start to criticise how you look, what you do or what you’re capable of, stop – even if it’s mid-sentence.
#5: Take a nap.
Sleep and rest might not sound all that pampering to you, but it’s possibly one of the most generous things you can do for yourself. In these fast-paced times, regularly slowing down for a nap is a fabulous treat. (By the way, it’s great for your health, effectiveness and focus too.
#6: Spend time with people you truly enjoy.
There may be many people in your life who you don’t necessarily like to spend time with but whom you choose to visit anyway. Make sure you are also making time for those whom you have fun with or whom you find stimulating to be around.
#7: Stop before diminishing an accomplishment (even a small one).
A variation of self-criticism is negating or diminishing your accomplishments. Catch yourself before brushing off praise or feelings of pride and stop. Give yourself permission to feel gratified about a job or project well done.
#8: Put yourself first some of the time.
This is a tough one for many of us! While there are exceptions to this rule, many people tend to mostly put themselves last. This might not be all of the time, but it is the case a lot of the time. Before agreeing to work late (again) or before committing to something you feel obligated to, pause. Maybe this is an occasion to say “no” so that you can meet your own needs first.
#9: Order what you really want from the menu.
Here’s another idea that may seem insignificant, but it’s not. For those who generally feel unworthy, there is a habit of skimping and short-changing ourselves. Whether it’s at a restaurant, clothing store or anywhere else, if you usually take the lesser option – and you’d like something more – challenge this habit and treat yourself to what you really want.
#10: Think best case instead of worst case scenario.
It is also generous to focus more on what you DO want instead of on what you fear or what you don’t want. If you turn on the news or listen to your neighbors and you’ll probably hear a lot of worst case scenarios.