Do you ever feel tired from being there for everyone else and not having enough time for you? I work with a coaching client who had a blog for mamas, and her main focus was helping moms take time out for themselves. Interestingly, this was something she struggled with herself, so the blog was not only a way for her to reach other people and form a community but also a way to hold herself accountable for carving out self-love time.
In our last session, she expressed her frustration with feeling exhausted day after day. We identified that her emotional lows were directly tied to her overgiving to everyone else but not taking time out for herself. This is a common situation for mothers, but you don’t have to be a mom to be an overgiver. If you find you're tired all the time, and you realize you tend to work on being there for other people at the expense of showing up for yourself, you might be an overgiver. Women especially (though certainly this can happen to men as well) are natural givers. We give life, time, love, energy, creativity, even ourselves. We naturally put the needs of others before ourselves. It’s a quality that comes naturally to most people with big hearts. Sadly, this often means that the biggest-hearted of us have the hardest time receiving love.
We give, give, give, give, and that leaves us depleted. But you deserve to find the balance and fulfillment that comes from receiving. It's not easy for many people, and that's why more of us don't just do it—with grace and gratitude. But I believe we can change that. I’ve seen many clients transition from overworked overgivers to gracious, grateful recipients.
It starts with examining your beliefs about love:
Do you believe any of these things?
- It's selfish to get what I want.
- There isn't enough to go around—enough money, enough food, enough resources, enough time, enough whatever.
- I only matter when I'm helping others.
- I don't deserve what I desire.
- Other people's needs are more important than mine.
In The Power of Receiving: A Revolutionary Approach to Giving Yourself the Life You Want and Deserve, Amanda Owen says that women are especially reluctant to embrace philosophies that ask them to promote their needs over the needs of others. But receiving is a skill that can be learned; it can be developed and strengthened over time.
Learning how to receive will help you feel more nourished and empowered. The ability to receive is, in fact, essential to physical health, psychological balance, and spiritual alignment. It is a fundamental element of loving yourself.
If someone offers to open the door, let them. If you get a "thank you" for something or receive a compliment, acknowledge and accept it without deflecting or feeling obligated to return the compliment.
These small, simple acts of acceptance can help you get more comfortable receiving. Once you get in the habit of receiving, the universe can deliver your desires to you. Most of us block ourselves from receiving what we really want without even realizing it.
After seeing the positive impact such a small practice had on my life, I was motivated to take it even deeper. So I tried something radical, just to see how it felt. I started to thank myself for just being me.
I would say things like, "Thank you for doing the best you can." "Thank you for trying each day to do your best." Even when I was disappointed with myself, even when I thought I had fallen short, I took myself to a place where I could still be grateful to myself and appreciative of the fact that I had shown up. I had made an effort.
The results of my self-love gratitude practice were surreal. I found inner peace, discovered my life purpose, and developed a genuine love and appreciation for me and life. This is the true power of self-acceptance and love.
It’s easy to let self-imposed expectations and guilt trick us into believing self-love is selfish. It isn’t. It is our innermost need. When we accept ourselves fully and feel gratitude and appreciation for who we are, we can give our time, our energy, and our love more richly to others. This is the true art and beauty of receiving.
Excerpted with permission from The Self-Love Experiment: Fifteen Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself by Shannon Kaiser, © 2017 by Shannon Kaiser. TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House.