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5 Ways to Practice Self-Generosity (So You Can Be Generous to Others, Too!)

This is the second post of my three-part series Grounded Generosity. The first post explained myths about generosity. Now I will share tangible steps to help you maintain your energy, set boundaries and truly find joy in the coming holiday season and beyond.

You know the phrase: "You can't pour from an empty cup."

Often, we think of generosity as selflessly and perhaps endlessly giving of our time, money, resources, energy, etc. I find that I can be extremely generous with others but do not extend that same generosity to myself.

Let’s explore the concept of self-generosity as an act of self-care and love, “not as being self-centered, but instead as a way of nurturing a centered self, a person who is able to care for others from a non-anxious place of fullness.” -Living Compass

The value of generosity is deeply rooted within me, and maybe you, too.

Being generous with others gives me a sense of fulfillment and joy and allows me to connect with my fellow human beings, however, I have found that until I fill my own cup I cannot truly give to others without feeling, stressed, burden, obligated and depleted.

Finding ways to care for yourself and practice self-generosity can be difficult when we are faced with the ever-changing world around us, pressures at work, and family obligations.

5 ways I practice self-generosity while living a full life:

1) Extend compassion to yourself by releasing self-criticism and judgment.

I often harshly judge and criticize myself but I can be forgiving and non-judgmental of others.

Practice extending that same graciousness to yourself as you do with others, and remember you are doing the best you can.

Learning to be compassionate with oneself is a process, and for many of us, myself included, the opposite of the deeply rooted habit and belief that withholding generosity from oneself is ok and actually a productive way to move forward.

I invite you to explore what this might look like. What actions would you take? What would you say to yourself? How would you talk about yourself to others?

2) Ask for help; your community is waiting.

I am quick to offer help to others but have been very reluctant to ask for help myself. When I had my appendix removed and was on bed rest for a week I needed help with making meals, child care, etc. but asking for help literally made me nauseous. With the encouragement of my partner and mustering courage, I finally (yet still reluctantly) asked for support from my community.

I found that so many people were more than willing to help and they were actually happy to do so! That experience has given me the confidence to continue practicing asking for support. Asking for help is still not the first thing I think of when I am in the midst of a hard situation, but asking is becoming easier for me each time I do it.

Start with something small to begin asking for help and as you build that habit move on to bigger tasks so when you find yourself in a true time of need you will be adapted to asking your community for support and they will be more than willing to help!

There are times when I need help from others to refill my cup, perhaps emotionally, spiritually, physically or financially, and when I ask for and allow others to help me it adds to my cup and in turn gives them the opportunity to be generous in their own right.

3. Set boundaries as an act of self-love.

Set boundaries for yourself, schedule time for yourself, respect your needs as you do others, practice saying yes to the things that bring you joy, and say NO to self-imposed obligations.

So often I will run right over my own boundaries to help someone or accommodate their needs and schedule. This can leave me feeling depleted and frustrated.

Setting and respecting our own boundaries with time, money, resources and energy is the first step, once we are able to know and maintain our own edges of comfort then we can begin to hold our boundaries with others.

Again, find something small to start with, perhaps scheduling time to exercise, take a walk with a friend, or spend intentional time with your partner. Employ whatever method you use to set and keep a work meeting to ensure you will have the time and space to fulfill your promise to yourself. Notice how that feels. Notice what thoughts come up.

4. Fuel your body-- it does a body good.

Taking the time daily to add physical movement and nourishing foods to your life will fill your cup with vitality, hope, and energy and will help reduce stress and anxiety.

Around the winter holidays we know there are more treats readily available. Don’t deny yourself from enjoying your favorites, and consider adding nutritious and filling options to your treats to ensure that you have the fuel you need to enjoy each day.

Notice how your body feels and your energy level, and trust your body to be your guide so you can truly delight in all that this season has to offer.

5. Seek gratitude. It will bring you joy!

The simple act of acknowledging what you are grateful for can be so powerful.

On Jan. 1 of 2020 I started a gratitude journal by simply writing 3 things that I was grateful for every day. I am proud to say that I have maintained this habit nearly every day. I credit this practice among other acts of self-generosity with supporting me through that very difficult year and beyond.

The practice has attuned my brain to seek gratitude rather than dwell on what is not working or going my way and through presenting gratitude, I have found unexpected and creative solutions and perceptive shifts I never could have imagined.

Notice what begins to shift in your mind, body and your heart and you begin to focus on gratitude.

See what changes in your life once you start practicing more self-generosity.

When I allow myself the time and space to practice self-generosity, it allows me to be more generous with others.

As we move into this season of giving I invite you to create time and space to extend generosity to yourself as an act of love and kindness and notice what that brings into your life.

This is the second of my three-part series Grounded Generosity. Check back soon for the third post, when I share tangible steps to help you maintain your energy, set boundaries and truly find joy in the coming holiday season and beyond.


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