A Gift to Myself (One
of My True Stories)
A question used to rule my life. I didn't realize it until
one holiday season. There was a question in my head that was draining
the fun out of my holidays. I mention holidays, because that is when
I had this experience. You can think of any extra-stressful time in
your life: preparation for a wedding, family visits, religious events,
When I awakened each day I would ask myself, "What do I have to do
today?" I asked this all the time, but especially during the holidays
when there was so much to do. I thought this question would help prioritize
my jobs for the day. I didn't realize it was causing a problem. It seemed
to be a simple enough question. It was just the wrong question.
When I thought about what I had to do, I focused on the tasks in front
of me. During the holidays, that was overwhelming. In addition to the
usual family, home, and business responsibilities, I had all the holiday
preparation too. By the time I added shopping, decorating, and cooking
to the list of jobs, I didn't even know where to start. Frankly, it
was depressing. This overwhelming list of jobs was sucking the fun right
out of the holidays. I needed a new question:
"What do I want to give myself
Instead of focusing on the list of
jobs I had to do,
this question focused on the reward for doing a single job.
Think about this question in your own life. Choose what reward you
want, and give it to yourself. This works with housework, holiday tasks,
and family responsibilities. If the kitchen is a mess, instead of thinking
that you have to clean it up, think about how nice it will be to have
a warm holiday drink sitting in your beautiful kitchen. Give yourself
the gift of a nice clear counter and table. Instead of dreading the
job of wrapping presents, give yourself the gift of relief from stress.
You deserve that sense of relief you will feel when the presents are
wrapped and sitting in a pretty pile. Give yourself that sense of relief
sooner rather than later.
Think of your "to do" lists. These lists contain all the things you
need to do. Sometimes these lists can be useful. More often they make
you feel overwhelmed. From now on I encourage you make "to give" lists
instead. On your "to give" list you note what you want to give yourself,
and the tasks that are involved. This new list will help you focus on
the reward or benefit from doing each task, instead of on the task itself.
This list can increase self-knowledge and your awareness of your motivation.
It is less overwhelming.
Here are some examples:
I want to give myself relief from stress by:
--gathering tax information
--finishing a task
I want to give myself the sense of accomplishment from:
--finishing my resume
--cooking a nice dinner
--fixing the broken table
I want to give myself nurturing by:
--packing a healthy lunch
--moving my body with swimming
--saying "No" when I am overextended
You deserve to focus on the enjoyment and benefit from your accomplishments.
Instead of asking yourself what you have to do, ask yourself "What do
I want to give myself?" This new question has changed my life. It can
change yours too.
personal message from Kelly
These last few weeks have been rather overwhelming for me. I have been
working on an important project that seems to have no ending. I have
been stressed! I found that I was procrastinating all over the place.
I had lists of jobs taped up everywhere on my office walls. I was simply
not doing the things on my lists.
Then, this morning, I found the above article that I had written last
WOW, what a difference!
After reminding myself of this idea of GIVING myself a gift instead
of pushing myself to do a task, I ripped down my lists of things to
do. I changed them to lists of things to GIVE myself. (Just being in
my office feels better now.)
I have given myself so many nice things this morning! One of the nice
things I gave myself is the feeling of connectedness to all of you that
I get when I write this eNewsletter. My personal thanks to each of you
for being part of our self-care / self-acceptance community!
I hope you make your
holiday season good for you!