“It’s really important to be able to receive love and receive compassion. It is as important as being able to give it.” ~Pema Chodron

To truly give yourself, you need to take care of yourself.

Your daily car ride may make someone’s life easier, but your bond as a healthy, happy person is far more valuable. You can only offer that if you take care of your own needs, as well.

1. Identify your current give/take ratio.

If you’d like to find a balance you have to know how off-balance you currently are. Is it fifty-fifty? Or seventy-thirty?

2. Establish your reason for imbalance.

Are you overextending yourself to feel powerful? Or to please everyone? You need to figure this out to address the next part.

3. Find an alternative plan.

If your goal is to feel powerful and helpful, start mentoring a child on the weekend. If you’d like to be well-liked, nurture qualities and skills that attract people to you—other than your tendency to say yes. This is a far better approach to gaining respect anyway.

4. Take a piece of the pie.

You can’t give everyone in your life 100 percent, so you likely give your parents, friends, and significant other a percentage of your energy. Consider a piece of that your own, and honor that in your choices.

5. Think of taking as another form of giving.

Everything you get from giving, the people who love you will get the same if you give them a chance to reciprocate. Why not allow them the opportunity to feel helpful and important, too?

6. Take a drama-free look at your relationships.

Do some people take more than give? The goal isn’t to blame, attack, or make yourself a victim, but rather to establish which relationships need to change.

7. Make attempts to repair unbalanced relationships.

If the give/take ratio is off-kilter, you need to address this, either by asking for what you need when you need it or initiating a constructive conversation. If the bond is worth saving, the other person will be at least a little receptive.

8. Make a habit of expressing your needs.

People won’t always anticipate them and step up to the plate, even if you operate that way. If you state your expectations, it will be easier for people to meet them. (Trust that they’ll want to! That’s how healthy relationships work.)

9. Check in without an even-Steven philosophy.

You don’t need to keep an internal scorecard of how much people are doing for you, but you should feel that, on the whole, they’re there for you physically and emotionally as much as you’re there for them.

10. Ask yourself, “Would I need a George Bailey moment of gratitude and admiration to justify all I’ve sacrificed?”

If the answer is yes, you know you’re not living a completely fulfilling life—one in which you look out for yourself, and honor your wants and needs as much as other people’s.
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