Give Lovingly: Be Generous Without Sacrificing Yourself

Generosity is readily giving more of oneself – more time, more money, more kindness – than is necessary or expected considering the situation. I’m sure you know, generosity is an extremely desirable quality to have.

It also has a dark side.

Unfortunately, the desire to give weighs heavily on some generous people when they don’t practice giving to themselves first and foremost. Generous people often give to others, to their own detriment.

The pressure we feel to be generous often doubles during the holiday season.

For instance… We donate money or buy gifts before accounting for our own financial well-being. 

We always say “yes” to new responsibilities or events, when we’re already worn paper thin.

We force smiles and niceties with people and family members who don’t make us feel good, just to maintain the status quo.

When we neglect our own needs like this for the benefit of others, we nurture a breeding ground for resentment, anger, and eventually burnout, when we have absolutely nothing left to give.

This is not the spirit of generosity. True generosity happens naturally – inspired and overflowing from a full cup, without creating any hardship whatsoever for the giver.

To the contrary – true acts of giving always carry an element of receiving too. Contributing to someone else’s life from an inspired, loving place always feels genuinely enjoyable, abundant, and fulfilling for everyone involved.

When you’re NOT enjoying the process of giving – when you feel like you don’t have a choice, or you feel that you never get anything back in return – that’s a sure sign you’ve stepped into the territory of self-induced self-sacrifice.

So let’s take a step back, shall we?

These tips will help your giving spirit thrive throughout the holiday season.

1. Take 100% responsibility for the way you feel. Let other people take 100% responsibility for the way they feel, too. Your #1 job is to care for yourself – let that be your priority. It’s not your job to make other people happy. It’s not up to anyone else to make you happy, either. People will survive and thrive without you, or they’ll learn how with practice. That is a very, very good thing.

2. Learn what your “full body yes” feels like, then follow it. Close your eyes, take deep breaths, connect with your body, connect with the wisest part of you, and ask – what does a full body “yes” feel like? Say NO to everything that doesn’t elicit that solid YES reaction. You’ll still have plenty of amazing things to fill your calendar, especially during this time of year. Your time is valuable and in high demand – spend time following your “yes”, not pushing down your “no”.

3. Only commit to projects, parties, and people when you KNOW you will deliver. Everything on your to-do list will subtly drain your energy until it’s complete, so be deliberate, be selective, and be realistic. Don’t stretch yourself too thin. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone – you’re allowed to say “no” (or at least stay temporarily non-committal).

When you give generously to yourself first, a joyful generosity towards others will naturally emerge – because nothing feels better than making an impact in the life of a loved one or someone who needs it.

Happy Holidays!