Photo credit: RODNAE Productions

A little while ago I took part in an activity which took me into the deepest parts of myself.  It was similar to a Vision Quest and specifically to find my hidden treasure.

I discovered “GENEROSITY” in my treasure chest and at the time I was under the impression I had just found it and now I got to use it in my every day.

But what I have discovered since then has totally shifted everything I ever thought about that word and how it operates in my world.

What I discovered is that I have traversed 5 phases of what it means to be generous throughout my life.

Phase 1:  Comparison 

My sister was always the “generous” one when we were growing up.  People used to comment about it all the time.  Oh she is so generous, she would give her right arm to anyone.  

As a child I heard, “She is, therefore I am not”.

Yes, it’s an untruth I told myself and this is what children do.  The brain takes in the information and creates meaning but this meaning is not based on logic or reason, it is black and white, it just is.

So for me my Phase 1 definition of generosity was all about comparison.  She is, therefore I am not.  It never occurred to me that both of us could be generous at the same time and we could, and most likely did, display it in different ways.

Phase 2:  People Pleasing

This was my phase of over compensating.  This is when I would go to the extreme. 

I would buy everyone drinks, or pick up tabs for people when there were discrepancies in the bill and then feel resentful about it afterwards.

I was to find out many years later that this had absolutely nothing to do with generosity and everything to do with people pleasing.  The subconscious goal at all times was about looking good and being liked by people.

Phase 3:  Giving with the Expectation of Return

This is a truly juicy phase for sure!  I don’t think I’m alone on this one because I believe most of us live in a place where we have some kind of expectation that there will be an “evening out” of sorts.

Things that come to mind for this are when I have written an article for my blog, made a live video sharing wisdom, insights and knowledge with the expectation of receiving likes, comments, shares and subscribers.

This is the giving with an expectation of return.

Phase 4:  Generosity with Myself

This one right here was the game changer.  I played a game where I realised just how stingy I was with myself.  We had to attribute points to how we were showing up, how we showed up for our team and how committed we were to achieving our goals. 

I realised how few points I gave myself, taking off huge amounts of points for the allowance of “improvement”.  

When I saw the outcome of this game, I was really angry with myself!  Of course I needed to improve and of course I needed to allow points for this however, 5 points would have sufficed instead of 30.

I also realised in this game that it’s pretty tricky to be generous with others when you are constantly being stingy and critical with yourself!

Phase 5:  100% Generosity, No Expectation of Return

This is the phase of Contribution. This is when you truly share generously.

This is when your ultimate goal is to create an impact, to share with someone in the hope it will support them in some way, without any expectation it will be returned.

It is not about being liked, trying to please people, or getting something “back”.  It is all about sharing from a full heart that has learned something valuable and wants to pass it on in the hope someone can have a transformation in the process.

So for me, the real shift and change came from giving to me first, I had to be generous with myself. When you can be generous with yourself, you are less likely to require the validation from the external world because you already understand what value you bring to the table.

Start by giving yourself points!  Be generous with yourself.  Love on yourself even when you make mistakes and you will see the ripple effects of this generosity instantly.  This is the ultimate gift for your self care.

Kirsten Barfoot is an Australian based Transformational Speaker, Coach and Author who inspires and guides women to being wealthy, even in times of uncertainty.  Sign up for her Inspirational Newsletter here