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> Back to Self-Care Excerpts List

Self-Care Excerpt from Don't Weight

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, etc.

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 today?"

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:

  • paying bills
  • 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.

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By Kelly Bliss M.Ed., A.C.E. author of Don’t Weight, Eat Healthy & Get Moving NOW!
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