As a Life Coach, two things clients often ask for assistance with is decreasing the stress in their lives and increasing the level of passion in their lives. While these goals are related to many other things including uncovering one’s underlying values and desires, they are also related to how open and connected to others we are. Deepak Chopra has talked about the “act of holding back” as behavior that drains energy, and has suggested that the moments when you feel most like hoarding your energy, are the best moments to turn to someone in need and offer them something of yourself. While this may seem contradictory and perhaps even scary at times, my work with my life coaching clients has shown me that the act of giving of yourself will almost inevitably connect to a passion source within you and increase your energy and awareness of oneself and others on a deeply fulfilling level.
Feeling inspired by this, we may ask ourselves how open and connected to others we feel and if there is anyone in our circle that could use our help. If we feel we are holding back here and there is someone we could reach out to, we may extend ourselves to that person. This form of giving of yourself is important and wonderful, and produces calming and energizing effects (even if it produces a little fear at first if opening yourself up is new to you). What can exponentially increase your energy, sense of connectedness, and sense of calm, though, is opening yourself up to, and giving to, others on a larger scale. In other words, volunteering within your community.
During times like today when stress levels are high, the tendency to restrict ourselves and desire to withdraw from the world in order to feel untouchable and safe, may feel particularly strong. But, as I tell my life coaching clients, it is exactly these times that beg us to give more of ourselves, because giving and connecting to others is actually a unique kind of self-care. And, the reason I call it self-care is that it’s an act that has immensely energizing and stress reducing results that closely relate to connection, community, perspective, stress, and gratitude. When we’re submerged in our own concerns about our own security, we tend to lose perspective on the things in our lives and what we’re grateful for. But, when we spend time at an organization that helps low-income families or a day with kids that come from difficult backgrounds, we tend to feel more grateful for our own blessings. Moreover, when we’re doing something that actively helps our community, a sense of deep connectedness to the people we’re extending our hands to and our community-at-large is created. And, as we contribute to the well being of others in our community, we contribute to the well being of the larger community that is ours.
If you’re not convinced or feel unsure of where to begin volunteering, you may want to try starting slowly by volunteering for a day at a nearby school or food bank that could use help. Afterwards, ask yourself how the experience made you feel? If you find that you’re eager to volunteer more, and you’re not sure where to look try www.volunteermatch.com. This site provides suggestions within your community that match your personal interests. You’re likely to find that there is a whole range of people and places in your own backyard that would welcome you and the help you can provide.
Maria is a Life Coach with the Institute for Coaching.