Helping Others, The Good, The Bad, and The Guilty – 6 Ways to Freedom

Do you volunteer some of your time?  Whether it’s helping kids, homeless, hungry, church, or family, it’s likely that you have a few commitments meant to help the world in one way or another.  I have always volunteered.  My mom used to tell me, “Do something for your family, do something for your church, and do something for your community.”  I’ve attempted to follow that.  Sometimes I might be an over achiever when it comes wanting to do it all!  I insist that you refer to my post “All Plates are NOT Created Equal.”

Be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it,  take yourself out of it.

I think the approaching fall is a great time to examine how you want to commit yourself for the rest of the year.  Somehow the fade of summer allows me to take a look at what’s ahead.  It gives me a chance to breathe in the goodness from the past and breathe out what’s not working anymore.  I exhale a long goodbye.

Examine your commitments in life to see what’s working, what’s still satisfying, what is drudgery, what you don’t want do anymore.

I start my examination with a paper and pen in hand in my comfy chair with a cup of tea.  This year it took two separate occasions to make some difficult decisions.

  1. Write down all commitments.  I’m talking volunteer commitments — marriage, family, friends are altogether another blog post!  Get a blank sheet of paper and really think about your months, weeks and days.  Write it all down!  BIG LONG LIST!
  2. Look at the list – I guarantee that as you wrote it, you had feelings of joy, feelings of meh, feelings of negativity and  guilt.  Isn’t it amazing that a fleeting thought of a commitment can really tell you honestly how you feel about it.
  3. If it brings you joy and fulfillment and you thrive – it’s a for sure yes!  Set your goals, join in with others who are still committed and make it worth doing!
  4. If you’re feeling meh about it – it’s time to write a few more words.  Pros and Cons — Two columns.  What’s good about this?  How do you feel when you’re participating?  How do you feel when the task is complete?  Write down everything that crosses your mind.  It might be someone’s name who you’ve helped, it might be someone’s name who causes the bubble to be burst!  Once you’ve looked at the Pros and Cons, it’s only then that you can make a decision.
  5. If you have negative feelings,  let it go.  There’s no time for negative thoughts about volunteering with something.  Sometimes we’re only meant to help out in a certain group for a period of time.  Sometimes it’s a one-time deal and others, it’s been for years.  It’s hard to say goodbye to somethings.  I find myself trying to keep on doing things even if my heart’s not in it – I don’t want to disappoint anyone.  WRONG ANSWER AGNES – If I’m doing something that my heart is not in, then I’m keeping someone from stepping up and living out their potential.  Sure, you think no one will do it, no one can do it like you.  Hey, no one has to do it like you!!  It’s time for a new change, both for you and the group!
  6. Are you feeling guilty?  Did you take on too much and then couldn’t let anything go?  Do you feel like you’ll disappoint everyone in the group?  Have you thought about how you disappoint folks when you continue to raise your hand and pay lip service but never dig in and get things done.  You want to help and you believe in the cause but in reality, you never quite get it done.  Oh yes, there’s good excuses.  Good intentions pave the way to guilty feelings.  Your guilty feelings are telling you that you’re doing too much.  This is why looking at your list and deciding what to continue and what to stop is so important!

Now what?  If you’re feeling good about continuing, reaffirm your commitment.  Talk to the people you serve with.  Create excitement and a positive atmosphere!  If it’s time to let something go, then friend – the time is now.  Make the call, write the letter or email.  Be honest.  The sooner, the better.

If you don’t volunteer anywhere or don’t have the time, spend a few moments thinking about your passion.  What puts a smile on your heart?  Consider just one day of volunteering.  You’ll be filled with positive vibes, knowing that you made a difference.

PS September 11th is National Service Day.  Go ahead, do something for someone! 

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