Yesterday I wrote about how to stay grateful in a situation where there is so much against us. Today I want to talk about how we can stay generous when we are already lacking in money, struggling physically, and devoting most of our emotional energy to caring for ourselves.
Most forms of generosity involve giving your money, your time, or your emotional labour. Donating to charity, helping friends move house or listening to people discuss their problems are all common forms of generosity. Being generous is something that feels good, makes people like you and is just a nice thing to be. However, it can also be seriously draining. So, what are some things that people with endo can do? Here’s a few ideas…
- Engage in online advocacy, including sharing and signing petitions. It generally only takes a few clicks so it isn’t a huge amount of energy required, but it helps promote good causes.
- If you have the spare cash, invest in a charity that helps you help a lot of people for a small amount, like Kiva. You can lend a certain amount of money to a cause of your choice. The person you loan it to then pays it back over time, so you can reinvest it in a new cause. It’s not a commitment to a monthly scheme and it means you only have to give the money you have, which you will get back.
- Participate in fundraisers that don’t require too much from you. Many fundraisers involve sponsored walks, runs or cycles. Others, like Frocktober (to raise money for ovarian cancer research) or Dressember (to raise funds to combat human trafficking) simply require you to wear a dress each day. I managed Frocktober last year and raised around $700, which I couldn’t have done if I was required to, say, walk for an hour a day. I won’t be able to do it this year as I’ll be in the UK and I want to wear pants to travel, so I might give Dressember a go instead.
- Practice being generous with the people closest to you. Maybe you can’t afford to take your partner for a romantic date, but can you offer a back massage or a foot rub? If your best friend is struggling at work, listen to them and talk to them. Be their shoulder to cry on. It’s easier to expend emotional energy when you care about the person you are doing it for. If you still have something left, give more or expand the circle of people you support.
- Support your endo-fellows. One thing that warms my heart in the local facebook endo support group is to see people generously offering to drop in care packages, emergency supplies or even just company to others in hospital. If you are up to a drive, consider that.
- Educate. If there is a cause you are passionate and knowledgeable about and you want to share it with people, go for it.
- Volunteer at things where you can sit down. Perhaps it is manning a stall at an event or festival, or doing a bit of face-painting at a school fete (although a word of warning as a former professional facepainter: it is KILLER on the back and shoulder muscles). Is there a phone service you could help with? If it is something physical within your ability to take it on, why not?
- Compliment people! I’m not saying to be insincere, but doesn’t a nice compliment just make your day a little brighter? If you like someone’s outfit, tell them. If you think their work today was just fantastic, tell them. It doesn’t take much from you but it might make a big difference to them.
- Forgive people. A lot of people will say insensitive stuff about endometriosis or about you. Generosity includes forgiving people for that, even when it hurts and is frustrating. That doesn’t mean you have to keep hanging around that person, excuse their wrong or forget what was said, but it does mean you stop dwelling on it and being angry at them for it. It’s good for you, too.
There are, of course, some things you should remember with this. Rules, if you will.
- Whilst true generosity may include giving up things you want, it should not include giving up things you need. Ensure that you have enough money set aside for medical expenses, food and rent before you give it away. If you’re anything like me, you don’t know if you’ll be able to work sufficiently in the future to make up any deficit.
- Don’t overdo it. It’s not much good helping someone for one day and going all out only to leave yourself bedridden for the next fortnight. Know when to say no, and when to call it quits and go home.
- It is fine to advocate and be generous for a cause that helps you too. If raising funds and awareness for endo is your passion, it is no less generous to give your time and money to that cause simply because you may benefit (although let’s be honest, anything we achieve in the endo sphere is really more likely to benefit the next generation than ours).
- Be generous to yourself! If you are forgiving and complimenting other people and giving them time and energy, do a little bit of the same for yourself.
Overall, I think generosity is a little easier than gratefulness, but it still promotes a certain positivity of mind. Sharing and caring feels good. Feeling good helps you cope with pain and negativity better. It’s a nice thing to do and a nice way to feel.
What are ways that you stay generous while suffering? What is hardest for you? Let me know in the comments.