No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
You’ve probably heard the saying “It’s better to give than to receive.” That may be true, but there are several different layers of “giving” for a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. We need to focus on each at different times in our lives depending on where we are in our healing journey.
Here are the three categories of giving that we want to focus on:
1. Giving to yourself.
This one is first for a reason. You can’t be constantly giving to others without first making sure that your own needs are met. Too often survivors forget this important part of giving. As we are reminded in airplanes, in case of emergency, you need to put your own mask on before helping others with theirs.
A common problem survivors have is feeling that they are unworthy or selfish if they spend any amount of time or money on themselves. You are VERY worthy. Treat yourself well. Take care of your needs first.
2. Giving to others.
This is one that we’re all familiar with, but it doesn’t have to be big gifts for big occasions. If you consciously noticed all the small acts of kindness you give every day, you’d be amazed at how they add up. Perhaps trying to do one small thing for someone else is the perfect thing for you today – write a thank-you note, give a bigger tip, pay for the food of the car behind you in the drive-through – those small things mean a lot.
A common problem survivors have is giving out of obligation. Feeling that you HAVE to give so much of yourself or your time, etc. and you can feel guilty if you don’t. Giving out of obligation isn’t truly giving. Give someone a gift, however big or small, because you WANT to, not because you feel like you must.
Are you surprised that this one is on the list? For some people it’s easy to give to others, but it’s difficult to receive for themselves. This includes people offering to help you in any way – it may not be something you’re used to, but try saying yes. Allow someone else to do something good for you.
A common problem survivors have is feeling that it makes them weak or pitiable to accept help from others. That isn’t true. Allow others to give to you because we all need that sometimes. Don’t accept if you feel it is disingenuous or insincere. If someone is trying to give something to you, a gift or help or their time, accept it for what it is – a sign that they love you and care about you.
As you read over the list, there may have been one that you want to work on. Whichever one it is, think about the reason behind it. For example, why is it so hard to give to yourself? Why does it make you uncomfortable to do small things for others? Why is accepting gifts or help from others so hard for you?
Find the answers that will help you on your healing journey and take the time this week to think about the art of giving and what you can do to give (or receive).