Updated on October 18th, 2018

Balancing our own needs with those of others in our personal or professional life can be tricky. Like all balance, this one too can easily get out of kilter, as we get swept into looking after others, or drawn into attending to our own inner processes. If you feel that you’re giving too much to others, or perhaps not enough, this post will help. Read on to discover my 3 essentials to focus on in giving to yourself and others…

When we’re taken up by fulfilling others’ needs, and there’s no way of saying no, even a small thing we do for ourself can go a long way to keep us going until a bigger change is possible. In times when we’re having to give to others a lot, it may indeed be what we need to do in order to stay sane!

But giving to others is also a good thing, of course – and not only for others. Because it makes us feel good about ourselves, too. Isn’t it interesting that giving, altruistic as it is, also has this ‘selfish’ aspect? 🙂 Just check with yourself (be honest!): What do you find easier or like better: Giving or receiving?

Equally, when we’re absorbed by things going on with or in our self, and our body or mind is demanding our attention, shifting that attention onto others even in a light way will help us get relief from our own process.

With giving to oneself and giving to others, it’s all about the balance, which is dynamic, and rarely at 50:50. And that’s ok. Just as long as we stay aware of what it is, and make conscious decisions about whether it’s working for us or not, and give a bit of counter-steer if it’s not – before we break down from the stress of it!

In case you need some inspiration for counter-steering your own balance, here are some small, practical things you can do. I’ve focused on what I believe are the essentials. You might of course have your own ones that are important for you!

3 essentials to give to yourself

1. Time

For yourself. However little that is, and however busy you are with other people.

Find the best moment in your day for this, and then take that time. Do it daily. Even 10mins are a great start – you can always expand that time as your situation allows.

Maybe you get up and sit quietly with a cup of tea before the family wakes up. Find a quiet spot to spend lunch time at work on your own. Take a quick walk around the block, or a hot bath. Or take up a hobby just for yourself.

Use the time to tune into how you’re doing. Settle yourself. Recharge your batteries and get a mini-rest from worrying about others.

2. Compassion

Acknowledge you’re not superhuman. Some situations are really tough. Don’t judge yourself if you’re not coping very well. (But don’t whine or feel a victim, either!)

If a friend came to you, confiding she’s suffering in that very same situation – what would you say or do? What would you suggest? How would you help? Do the same for yourself.

By all means be practical, too: Who could help you? Reach out for help, and accept it! And if the demands on you really get unreasonable or untenable, say no. That, too, is a sign of self-compassion.

3. Care 

Look after yourself. Nourish your body and your soul. Give yourself a treat every now and then, particularly, if you’re struggling away in a difficult situation that doesn’t want to change.

Do something you love – a walk, seeing art, or even just resting, chilling and relaxing. If you’re ill, seek treatment, support and care from others wherever possible.

Taking care of yourself, and being good to yourself, is an act of self-love. You’ll need it, particularly, if you’re looking after others a lot!

What do you think?

What are some of the things you feel are essential to give to yourself – particularly when your self-vs.-others balance gets out of kilter?

Or do you have a question you want to ask about this, that I might be able to help with?

Why don’t you drop me a line in the comments box below?

3 essentials to give to others

1. Presence

Really being there with someone – whether they’re happy or hurting, clear or confused, steady or shaking. Not having the shopping list in mind, or mentally going through all you need to get done today, while you’re making a ‘listening face’ to the person you’re with. Just being there, gently focused on where the other person is at. On what’s going on now with you both. And on your own responses, too – keeping yourself grounded and in yourself.

Not trying to do or fix anything for others when they’re sharing a problem can also be a gift that comes with our presence. Letting the other person be as they are – without judging them or thinking they or their life are broken, will help them work out what they want to do about it. Our simple presence without ‘taking over’ for them, is a sign of respect, too – and we trust and empower them to find their own way forward.

Giving someone your presence and full attention is hard to do, particularly when we’re in doing mode and under pressure from lots of things that need sorting out. But we can learn it, practice it, get better at it. And switching off the doing, choosing to be present to someone else can be a bit of an oasis of calm, giving our brains a rest from the constant planning and sorting out things.

Giving our presence in this way is a great gift, for ourselves and others: It will deepen our connection, heighten the fun we have together, and lessen or heal the hurts we experience.

2. Appreciation 

Really look at what’s around you, notice what’s there, and consciously appreciate it. It doesn’t matter what it is. You could start with simple things, like the colour or scent of a rose in a front garden you pass. A great cup of tea. Or how the sun shines through your office window in the afternoon, brightening your desk.

You could also notice things you appreciate about others: How they are steadfast in a crisis. How they cheer us up with their laughter. How we can trust them with a secret. When you notice yourself appreciating something in someone, make sure you tell them! It’ll might just make the other person’s day, and it’ll make you feel good, too.

Spelling out our appreciation goes a long way if you’re a manager or leader of staff at work. Also if you’re a parent  bringing up children. And it’s particularly important to keep telling your life partner what you appreciate in them – because our brain tends to notice what’s new, and switch off from noticing what or who is familiar, taking it for granted… 🙂

3. Forgiveness

People will always do stuff that harms or hurts us – sometimes, sadly, maliciously, and other times even when they have the best intentions. Sometimes, it can just be an unfortunate misunderstanding!

Our brains are wired to strongly respond to negative emotion. This helps us protect ourselves, and I cannot stress enough that we do need to remove ourselves from people or situations that are harmful or dangerous for us. At the same time, we can work to understand our own reaction of hurt, and see if it is perhaps more to do with ourselves than the other person. And, if so, reflect on what we might do about that.

If we feel we’ve been treated badly or have suffered damage, it is ok to expect or ask for an apology. And when it comes, to gracefully accept it, and let the wrong that’s been done to us go. (No constant reminders to the wrongdoer about doing you wrong! 🙂 )

Because keeping the hurt, resentfulness and vengefulness alive in us will just poison our inner climate and keep us feeling bad about something that’s passed. Forgiving on the other hand – which is not the same as forgetting or condoning what’s happened –  will set us free.

What do you think?

What are some of the things you feel are essential to give to others?

Or do you have a question you want to ask about this, that I might be able to help with?

Why don’t you drop me a line in the comments box below?



Photography: Pixabay