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How to Use Giving and Receiving for Self-Care

This time of the year can tend to fly by. Families I work with often express that they feel overbooked, overwhelmed, and tired. I find that the best antidote to these feelings is SLOWING DOWN.

This article offers you a chance to pause and check-in. While it can seem like a small or simple act to read a blog and make a reflective doodle, these acts can be healing self-care. Furthermore, as you practice self-care, you teach your teens what it means to be with themselves, and collectively, you contribute to recreating cultural norms, ones that focus on community and healing, rather than competition and productivity.

Checking In With Your Current Pattern

First, I invite you to get out a notebook or a piece of paper. Draw a circle. This is a simple pie chart, in which one “slice” will represent how much of your energy is spent giving, and the other “slice” will represent how much of your energy is spent receiving. This is not a perfect science; instead, this is a simple representation of the ways you are currently experiencing energy in and out. Trust the proportions that come to mind first under the current circumstances of your life.

Stop. Breathe. Feel.

What do you notice about your pie chart?

What thoughts arise?

What feelings surface?

Do any beliefs about yourself come up?

This pie chart is one potential tool that you can use to check in with yourself and your current patterns. I invite you to reuse it to capture your energy in a certain relationship or in a certain timeframe. For example, you might consider how much you are giving and receiving in your relationship with your teenager. Alternatively, you can consider more generally how much you have given and received in a given day. I invite you to utilize this tool as often as you’d like as a means of checking in with your energy in and energy out.

Naming the Ways You Give

Each day, we meet countless opportunities to give. We give of ourselves, our time, our time, our energy, and our gifts.

As parents and caregivers, you help your teen with homework or attend their games and performances to attend. You tackle household to-do lists and pay bills. You show up in your communities– school, place of worship, local government, workplace, and so on, and you give to family members, friends, and co-workers or colleagues.

I invite you to consider the many roles you hold and the many ways you give to the world on a daily basis. You may choose to write these down or list them in your mind, whatever feels most powerful to you.

Stop. Breathe. Feel.

Notice how you feel after considering the ways you give.

How does your mind feel?

How does your body feel?

Do any beliefs about yourself come up?

These qualities are just qualities, and whatever you are feeling is valid. Whatever came up is data or information about your relationship to the act of giving in this particular moment of time.

Before we move on, is there something you’d like to celebrate yourself for? Did one of your roles or outlets for giving make you feel proud as you listed it? Additionally, are there ways of giving that come naturally, feel like your gifts, or maybe even feel like inherent parts of who you are?

Sit with this for a moment. Let yourself soak in the acknowledgment. Furthermore, I invite you to offer yourself praise or appreciation.

Naming the Ways You Recieve

In any given day, there are also countless opportunities for receiving. However, most parents (and teenagers too!) share with me that these feel harder to identify, more challenging to really feel, and, honestly, lower on their priority list.

Let’s start at the beginning: What does it mean for you to receive? The most simple way that I define receiving is allowing and accepting. Receiving can also mean absorbing or soaking in; it means being present to experience the gifts of the world, others, and the moment.

Next, I invite you to consider the diverse ways you receive– from yourself and others. Again, you may choose to write these down or list them in your mind, whatever feels most powerful to you.

Stop. Breathe. Feel.

Notice how you feel after considering the ways you receive.

How does your mind feel?

How does your body feel?

Do any beliefs about yourself come up?

Again, whatever is coming up for you is valid. This is helpful information in unpacking and understanding your current relationship to the act of receiving.

Looking at your list, which forms of receiving feel the most natural? Accessible? Fun? Supportive? Healing? And so on. Consider how different ways of receiving land with you. What qualities do they have? What desires do they inspire? What appreciation do they elicit?

Pause and notice any other thoughts or feelings that you’ve touched in with. Take a few comforting breaths. Perhaps you’d like to shake your hands out or stand up and do a little wiggle or dance.

Developing a New Lens of Giving and Receiving

This exercise is not a diagnosis and is not meant to classify your patterns or current conditions as “good” or “bad.” Thus, I invite you to be gentle with yourself as you face whatever has come up through this practice.

We live in a busy, fast-paced world, and you have a lot on your plate. It is my hope that this reflective practice offers you new vocabulary and a new lens through which you can see your to-do lists, your daily routines, and the many roles you play in your personal and family lives. Perhaps it will invite you to consider what “balance” looks and feels like to YOU.

Practically speaking, your awareness of your relationship to giving and receiving can help you make decisions, set intentions, and initiate self-care. Finally, I invite you to notice how else the vocabulary of giving and receiving informs your life and process.

As you dig in to this practice, you may also find yourself (and your teen) wanting extra support. Together, you and your family can build individual support system maps!

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