What does giving look like?

I was recently talking to a member of the team about giving and sacrifice. We were looking at this sketch which they had sent through to me.

Their take: “…people sacrifice a lot for others’ happiness – women do it – burn self and give to the family.  They have babies knowing they will have to sacrifice, but do it anyway…”

It was interesting to me that women were highlighted. This team member is a particularly kind and giving person who often sacrifices things for the good of others. He is also a man. I wondered why he appeared not to recognise his own sacrifices. Perhaps that is part of the nature of truly giving.

We often hear about the sacrifices women make for the family, how giving and nurturing they are. However, it is not just women who do this.

People from all walks of life, from any gender, can and often do make sacrifices for the good of others. Sometimes it is very obvious with those in certain occupations, paid or voluntary, regularly risking life and limb to help others.

More often, however, it is done quietly, without fuss and without recognition.

Giving up a job so a friend can have the work instead…staying up late to help a friend start a business…catering a friend’s wedding…helping someone move house on your one day off…helping set up and pack away a meeting or event…having a conversation with a stranger who is doing it tough…driving a truck so a friend can attend a wedding…sitting with the sick…feeding someone’s pets…showing the new kid the ropes…babysitting your grandkids, your nieces, your nephews…talking all night with someone in need….running free yoga classes….cooking, cleaning, gardening, shopping, driving…proof reading a thesis…or a blog…

The list is endless and all encompassing. Every day people are giving, quietly sacrificing a part of themselves for the betterment of someone else.

I like to think everyone gives; everyone makes sacrifices, instinctively desiring others to benefit. I do believe some people do it more than others and at times perhaps too much. After all, you can only give so much before the candle burns out.

I think you can see where I am going with this. With giving often done instinctively, we may not realise when we’re giving too much, that we might be burning out.

I am not saying we should stop giving, stop sacrificing for the betterment of others. But we do need to remember to replenish that candle, to remember our self-care.

Whatever your sacrificial tendencies, no matter how prolific, however loudly or quietly, with or without fuss, recognised or overlooked, it all burns the candle.

So take time every day to tend to your self care, in whichever way works for you. Whether it is outside or inside, active or passive, solitary or with someone, intellectual, physical, spiritual, creative, meditative…find a way to give back – to yourself.

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