I have too much to do. I’m not coping I can’t handle one more thing. NOW you recommend that I give service?
So went my counseling session so many years ago. However, I already knew the answer. I developed 7 simple changes to start taking back my life years before I started counseling. Service was a key factor in my healing process. Before anyone panics….I am going to explain my idea of service.
I’m not talking huge humongous projects that would take a life time to complete. My first counselor had me do a 5/50 project. Do an act of kindness that doesn’t take more than 5 minutes or cost more than 50 cents every day. At the end of the day, write down what you did. He had me do this for a week. The next session he asked me what I learned. I answered…”I need to do more to help others.” ….Fail…. The correct answer was every time I did something kind by writing it down I could say to myself, “I am a kind person when I __________.” Getting the message through to me that I defined myself, not what my past said I was, simple yet difficult. Now I keep doing things that take less than 5 minutes and cost less than 50 cents. However, I tend not to write them down anymore.
I learned that many abuse survivors experience helplessness. When I help someone else, for even 5 minutes, I reaffirm, I’m not helpless. As a child I learned the concept that I was a bad person and deserved the hurting that happened to me. Giving service emphasizes I am a good person, good people help others. Another benefit when I helped others is my own challenges are put into perspective. I also recognize that I do have strengths. When I give service I become more aware of others. Since my brain can not think about two things at once I can’t think about the other person and myself at the same time.
There is a web page devoted to Random Acts of kindness and yes they list ideas of what can be done.
Another website gives specific ideas by region in the United States.
The version found written on the wall in Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
-this version is credited to Mother Teresa