In order to keep up with this post-a-day challenge (which I am actually finding that I love–hope it isn’t overwhelming anyone else), I am drawing inspiration from all kinds of sources. Today’s post was inspired by another Tweetchat. I talk to really smart people on Twitter, and I learn some great things. So, don’t be surprised if many posts have a chat inspiration. This time, I was inspired by the #BCSM Community’s chat about advocacy–for self and for others.
This discussion felt serendipitous to me. I had already saved a draft post title about finding ways to serve others, and the connection with caring for yourself. I often tell my clients that if I could make them do one thing for themselves (which I can’t, by the way–no coercion here), it would be to find a form of movement that they loved. I say this because there is a growing body of research which suggests pretty clearly that exercise in any form (walking, dancing, biking, gardening, yoga, you name it) is incredibly good for our physical and mental health. As it says up there at the top of the page, the connection between physical and mental health is my happy place, so I’m a fan of exercise.
I’m not a big fan of ultimatums, and my clients will tell you that I almost never tell people what to do. If I did, I might say something like this:
Because the truth is, we all face pain and struggle. It is part of life. And when we are in the middle of our own pain–whether that pain is the physical pain of MS or Crohn’s, or the emotional pain of depression–we can feel helpless, wiped out, stuck.
When we begin to look for ways that we can serve others who are also in pain, we do several things. First, we remind ourselves that our pain isn’t a personal punishment, because others suffer too. Second, we remind ourselves that our pain has not prevented us from bringing good into the world. And third, we set the example to others in pain that they too can reach out.
But wait, I hear you saying, I’m too sick, too tired, too run down to reach out to others. I can barely take care of myself. Sometimes, that is true. Sometimes you are in the darkest parts of your own struggle and you just don’t have much to give. But I think, most of the time, if you are willing to challenge yourself and be creative, there is someone who needs what you can give.
That may be a financial donation if you’re too physically wiped out to get out of the house. It may mean the gift of time or a caring ear if your illness has tapped out financially. It may me engaging with a support community in person or online and sharing the gift of your own story with someone who hasn’t been trying as long as you have.
Volunteering, advocating, caring, supporting–in one way or another, most of us can do something in this arena. It might be different than what you did before, but someone needs what you can give.
Maybe you can start your giving by sharing suggestions with others about how you have successfully reached out.