As I write this, we are two weeks away from Christmas in the year that just won't quit, 2020. I don't know about you, but I am bombarded with emails from companies advertising their holiday sales, and it seems most folks I follow on Instagram have put together Gift Guides to help you make conscientious choices about your purchases this year.
Let me start off by saying I LOVE this. I'm seeing many guides focusing on Black-owned businesses which is incredible, so we can put our money where our mouths are. I'm seeing small businesses and one-person shops getting shout-outs and support and I am loving it.
And, you know what I haven't seen? Suggestions for gifts you can give yourself.
Of course the items featured in any Holiday Guide could be a delicious self-indulgence, treat, or treasure for yourself. But I'm not talking about books, clothes, self-care goodies, or even experiences like a retreat or a trip.
Today, I want to share three free gifts for yourself this holiday season, inspired by our Clarity Deck.These are gifts you will be giving to yourself to feel happier, to be more yourself, to have more inner peace, and to be a better friend to yourself.
Part of the beauty of giving yourself a gift like these is there's no time stamp. These would be perfect fodder for making some commitments, choosing a focus, even starting a fresh habit moving into the New Year - but they don't need to be acquired or accomplished by December 25th or 31st.
You can choose to start with one of these as your gift for the first 1/3 of the year, and then move on to the next.
You can use them as writing prompts to come up with other gifts to give yourself, phrases to focus on in 2021, or new year resolutions if you are in the practice of making those.
You can select the one that resonates with you the most, and give it to yourself starting today. Like, right now. Consider it given.
Read on to explore three free gifts for yourself, and to see the Question Cards from our Clarity Deck that inspired them.
Gift #1: Say Thank You Instead of Sorry
This idea (which you'll see explained below on the Apologies Card) changed me, and it's something I do for myself at least a few times a week.
Instead of saying "sorry," say "thank you."
Sorry it took me so long to reply. ---> Thanks for your patience.
Sorry I can't come. ---> Thank you for inviting me, I look forward to hearing about it and hope to make it in the future!
Sorry I've been so out of touch. ---> Thank you for reaching out while I was underwater.
Sorry the house is a mess. ---> Thank you for always being a relaxed guest who lets me be more relaxed about cleaning up!
Sorry I can't talk. ---> Thank you for reaching out and I'm excited to connect when things aren't so hectic.
This is a beautiful gift to give yourself for two reasons. The first is that it will improve your relationship with yourself. Seriously!
Imagine if Mom is always apologizing for you, in front of you. Sorry she's so loud, sorry she made us late, sorry she's such a mess, sorry she didn't do this right . . .How would you feel, hearing someone so valuable and close to you saying this to all the people in your life, day in and day out?
Small, insignificant, like a fuck up?
Well - you are hearing that from the person closest to you, every single day, when you constantly apologize for everything. It will boost your self-esteem to cut this out of your diet, and no longer be fed the story that you are something, and someone to be sorry about.
The second way that this is a gift is that it conveys both confidence and appreciation to others. By sharing your gratitude for how they have related to you, you're starting the conversation on a pleasant and warm foot.
You're also communicating dignity, confidence, and that you are secure enough in yourself to own your actions and extend appreciation for the response. This sets the stage for a peaceful and pleasant interaction, doesn't it?
Gift #2: Lose Old Rules
Give yourself the gift of a fresh start.
We spend a lot of time talking about ways to clear out closets, drawers, even being more intentional about the accounts we follow online and what imagery shows up in our Instagram feeds.
But when is the last time you cleared out the gunk from the inside of your own head - namely, the rules that govern your life?
I'd bet that there are at least two rules you're following that you don't even believe in anymore.
They were likely taught to you when you were young, or are part of the culture in which you grew up/spent a good deal of time.
You might have had these rules in your head for so long that you don't even notice them.
But if you hold them in your hands, roll them around, hold them up to the light and turn them over for inspection, you might realize that they're not yours - they are someone else's, which you were following for awhile, but which you no longer need to keep.
What are examples of rules you might be following that you don't believe in any more?
What your body is supposed to look like
What a relationship is supposed to look like
What your career is supposed to look like
How you're supposed to be spending your time
What "selfish" looks like
Rules about what you're supposed to do for other people
Rules about behaviors you're expected to accept from other people
Where you're supposed to live
How much money you should earn/have saved
What your style should be/what clothes are "appropriate" for you
What your interests should be
These are just a few of the rules that you might have on autopilot - and, if you write down what the "rule" is that's in your head, you will be extremely surprised to realize that you actually don't agree with it at all anymore - and perhaps never did.
Give yourself the gift of no longer building your life around things you don't value, and guiding your actions around a set of rules you don't agree with.
If you're not sure where to start, use the list above, and simply write what your answer is for each rule. Then, read through what you've written, and highlight the ones that don't resonate with you. For those, write what does feel right to you.
This one is a biggy and it might take a lot of time, a good deal of unpacking, perhaps some healing. This isn't going to be an overnight gift. But it can be a lifelong, and life-changing one.
Gift #3: Relate to Your Body Differently
I'm not going to suggest you give yourself the gift of fitness or health - even though those are great.
I'm not even going to urge you to find self-love and body acceptance; those might be far from reach right now.
Or, you might already have all of these - acceptance, health, self-love, and fitness. Regardless - there is always more to learn about ourselves by digging deeper into our endlessly unfurling relationships to our bodies.
I am going to encourage you, wherever you are in your relationship to your body, to simply think about how a shift in the way you carry and care for yourself could bring you closer to your higher good.
This can look so many different ways.
Is it eating differently?
Shifting your posture?
Having different body language in meetings?
Noticing the way the hairs on your arm stand up when you're having an intuition?
Hydrating your body?
Changing or starting medication?
Being outside more?
Dressing your body in a way that makes you happier?
Receiving energy work?
Listening to the butterflies in your stomach and writing down when they appear?
Give yourself the gift of deepening your friendship with yourself, through you body. This means listening to yourself more closely and tuning in to what your body is trying to tell you; seeing the charm, sweetness, and beauty you posses, the way you would notice these in a friend; taking care of your body like you would a child or a friend.
We're so obsessed with diet culture that often any/all conversations around bodies veer into the land of weight.
There is so much more to our bodies than their weight and size and shape. They are our home, they are our oldest friends, they can be a classroom, they are a symbolic representation of what is happening in our psyche and emotions.
This gift opens you up to all the ways your body is trying to communicate with you, and all the lessons it could teach you if you listen. Choose one to start with, and begin.
How to Give Yourself These Gifts
While it's nice and sweet to think about these emotional and relationship gifts you'll give yourself, we also have to ask - OK, but how? How does this go from something I read and say "wow, yes, that sounds so good, I need that in my life" to actually having it be something you possess on a daily basis?
Of course this is going to look different for everyone, based on your mental health, your resources, your predilections, and your situation. I want to offer here a few ideas for how to actually integrate these three ideas into your everyday life, and I'm going to use our Cards featured in this blog post as the place to start.
My first suggestion would be to choose one of these to start with, to give your full attention to - you can circle back to the other two, but it'll allow you to really dig into what the Question has to teach you if you give it your full focus.
Have you picked which one you want to focus on? Great!
Here are three ways you can give yourself the gift by integrating the Question on this card into your everyday life in a light and easy way that will bring big results.
Make a Date with a Friend
Set a date with a friend to talk about the question on the card, whether this is in person, video chat, or over the phone. Make a set date and time to sit down to chat through it so you are accountable to them to have the conversation. During your conversation, ask for any insight your friend might have around how the Question on this card relates to you - things they notice, suggestions they might have - and let your discussion help you open up to the lessons this card has for how to make some shifts in your habits, schedule, or mindset in concrete ways.
Use in Therapy
Bring the Card to a therapy session to help spark conversation around this new idea, or a related habit, with your therapist. Talk about ways to integrate the question on the card into any homework between sessions that your therapist might suggest. If you don't work with a therapist, see if there's another person in your life who interacts with you in a healing or supportive capacity - whether it's a teacher, healer, doctor, coach, mentor, colleague, mastermind group, etc. - and see if there's a way to integrate this question into the work you're doing with them.
Quick & Simple Writing
Find one time each day to write for 3-5 minutes about the card - just jot down whatever thoughts come to mind related to the Question. There is no rule that you must write for a long time, that the writing be good, or that you do it at the same time each day! You can even voice text to yourself on your phone driving home, on the subway, or on a walk. Try to record some ideas each day, and give yourself a moment on Sunday to read over what you wrote, noting any big ideas or patterns. Repeat this the following weeks until you feel you've reached a natural stopping point with exploring the Question and integrating it into your daily life, and move on to the next one.
Alright my friends, I hope these three gifts to give yourself this holiday season provide you a few points of guidance and focus for the weeks - and year - ahead.
Taking care of yourself and being a great friend to yourself isn't a linear process, and there will be some weeks you're better able to focus on giving yourself these gifts, and other weeks you might get lost in the sauce and overwhelmed with the slush of life.
No worries - you can always come right back here and refocus on whichever gift you're in the midst of giving yourself, and we also have a lot of these conversations on our Instagram page, so if you don't already follow us there make sure to pop over and join the community of thoughtful folks working to be more fully realized, happier, and at greater peace - together.
Take care and happy holidays!
Giving yourself the gifts of shifts to your mindset and habits is a free and flexible way to help yourself feel greater peace and happiness
Saying "thank you" instead of "sorry" is a simple yet really powerful shift that helps you feel more valued and peaceful while also communicating appreciation and confidence to others.
Just as we clean out our homes and our media frequently, take some time to examine the rules you live your life by, and ditch the ones that don't fit your life, values, or mentality any more. It will feel incredibly liberating and refreshing to no longer build your life around values and expectations that don't even matter you, when it boils down to it.
Give yourself the gift of relating to your body differently. This is nota call to set some resolution around exercise, weight, style, or anything else related to body image. This isan invitation to explore how you relate to, and take care of, your body, and explore with curiosity where there might be habits or thoughts to shift to get you to be your healthiest and best self.
While it's great to read about these shifts in mindset and habit, how do you actually implement them and give yourself the gifts that come with enacting these new ideas and behaviors? Three simple ways are incorporating the Questions on the cards featured into your therapy sessions, discussing them with a friend, or doing some simple writing around them to help bring them to mind each day without it feeling heavy or difficult.
Educator, Consultant, Founder of Girls Gone Happy
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With a very sudden closure of schools and strict lockdown measures put into place with a few hours' notice, our daily lives were rocked and turned upside down in the matter of an afternoon. It's gotten me thinking a lot about control, and what happens when we lose it.
Before you were taught what was and wasn't realistic, before the circumstances of your childhood molded your heart and mind into shapes that were the inverse of the pressures placed on you, like a hand pressing into clay.
What were you like, what did you love, what was your nature, before the people in your life taught you how to be, before you began to imitate others, before anyone told you no enough times that you put parts of yourself away.
Were you bold? Quiet? Did you love trees and animals? Were you a loner? Clingy? What did you dream of becoming? Where were you happiest? What do you remember?
As I read on, I learned that this is a common way of greeting someone and checking in with how they are doing right now, in this very moment.
It's a greeting that acknowledges that our well-being and emotional states fluctuate throughout the day, that each time we see each other we see each other anew, that we might not be the same person we were a few hours ago, depending on news we've received, experiences we've had throughout the day, realizations that occurred to us.