The Cost of Not Being Able to Help

If you’re following along with us at The Giving Back Society, then it’s pretty safe to assume that you like to give back. To make a difference. To make the world a better place, whether in small ways or with big impact. And that’s awesome! But, like many of us, you may have had some serious disruption to your regular routine which can impact your ability to give back like you used to.

For example, those of you making your impact through financial contributions might have had to tighten your belts. For those of you donating your time, you might instead be homeschooling your children or self isolating at home for your own safety. Or you might find that your usual system of giving back (especially volunteering in person) isn’t even an option anymore.

No matter what the reason, if you have lost your ability to make the impact you were previously making, there are some important steps that you need to take for your own wellbeing. You see, for many of us, when we take action to help others, we are also helping ourselves. Giving back feels good. It can make us happier and healthier. And those are incredible side effects, right? So, what happens when our opportunities to give back go away?

At first you might not notice the difference, but this change can sneak up on you quietly and quickly. And it’s important to realize that it’s happening so that you can protect  yourself and make a pivot. Especially since we don’t know how long this uncertain time is going to last for.

So, let’s talk about what we can do when our usually ways of giving back are missing from our lives. Here are 3 steps to take.

1. Forgive yourself for not doing more. This one is going to be the most important step of them all. You absolutely have to give yourself some grace during this time. It’s not your fault that this is happening. And you can’t wave a wand and make it all better. So, don’t blame yourself or carry any guilt. Things have changed, accept that, forgive yourself and then let’s move on.

2. Explore alternative options to what you had been doing. If you liked what you had been doing up until this global pandemic began, then see if you can stick with it, just in a different way. We’ve been seeing creative solutions to social distancing all over the internet – how can you get creative to help your cause? For example, if you were a docent in a museum, can you arrange to do virtual tours once a week on their Facebook page? Yes, the crowds can’t enter into the museum, but you and a camera person might be able to with your masks and safety precautions. Or maybe you used to visit your local children’s hospital with your therapy dog – can you pivot that to a virtual storytime with Fido instead? Reach out to those you help and brainstorm some creative and safe solutions.

3. Take action. Honestly, no matter who you are helping or how you go about it, taking action will make you feel accomplished, which leads to those happier feelings. Even if you’re stuck at home and aren’t good with technology, you can still help! But, thinking about helping and actually taking action are two different things, so this last step is to be sure that you do something tangible. Do you care about the environment? Then use this time to price out solar panels or order water saving shower heads. If you’re an animal lover and miss volunteering at your local shelter, maybe help other animals by eating a plant-based meal for dinner tonight. If your heart is focused around humanitarian efforts, volunteer at a call center for those who are feeling isolated and alone. There’s no shortage of ways to make a difference – they just look a bit different than we’re used to. Be open to trying new things and then take action!

While this post is talking about options to help others, keep in mind that the point here is to actually help yourself. When we’re in a time of crisis and unable to help the causes we care about, it can build up and overwhelm our emotions. When we see suffering, but feel helpless to fix it, we are brought low. But, when we see suffering and can take action, it empowers us and it recharges us. So, be sure that you are still making the time for those causes you care about in order for you to be the happiest and healthiest version of yourself. It’s a wonderful symbiotic relationship that benefits everyone.

If you’re feeling lost and unsure of how to pivot your good works during this time, please feel free to email me and we can brainstorm some ideas to get you back on track! Just email

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