Helping yourself by actually helping others

The motto here at SPBX has always been to "work hard, and be nice to people". A mantra we have seen successfully serve the greater good time and time again. Whether it be in business dealings, personal relationships, or just personal development, the bottom line is simple; you can trust that if you basically do your part, mind your own business, and check any negative vibes for others, everything should work out. Right?

Then why is it, no matter how hard we work, and how good we are to others, every once in a tiny while, that internal voice of doubt seems to welcome itself back in? Or maybe you've spent just a little too much time on social media lately (you know, for work purposes of course..) and now you find yourself playing the comparison game, and bumming out over the accomplishments you haven't been able to attain, or the promotional markers someone else is boasting about while you're still busting your butt to stay afloat.

It's OK, you're human. A little competition is totally healthy. Plus, periodically checking your personal benchmarks is great for perspective. However, if there were a way that Facebook could literally lock you out of your account for a pre-determined amount of time once you've had your fill, that'd be great. But since that is currently not an option (why, though?..) we are all at risk of falling down the negative rabbit hole. Scrolling through others' highlight reels can take a toll on you mentally, and even worse, emotionally. After a long, hard work week, it can be easy to get down on yourself when you feel bombarded with amazing(!), awesome(!), accomplishments(!), and all you're bringing to the table is the shell of a human, physically and mentally drained; trying to figure out how you're going to survive the next week.

In times like this, scientists and psychologists alike have suggested that helping others is the absolute best practice for helping yourself to feel less helpless. Helping others, lending a hand, volunteering, donating, teaching someone something..are all perfect ways to restore your own sense of self-worth. Aside from the happy hormones your brain releases when committing these acts, the basic principal is simple; no matter how bad you think you have it, someone out there has it MUCH worse. One way to gain some real perspective, is to get your hands dirty and witness this first hand.

The next time you start to doubt your own self-worth, heres a list of some quick and easy ways to get back on track:

1. Volunteering with animals

On weekend afternoons, you can usually find your local animal shelter hosting open adoptions at some of the larger chain stores such as PetsMart. Volunteering just a few hours of your time can really help you hit the refresh button once you feel the love these totally unbiased animals are willing to give. You may even end up leaving with a new foster!

2. Donating your expertise

We all possess something to be envied when it comes to hidden talents or professional expertise. Let your light shine, kid! What is one thing people always say they admire about you, or wish they could do as well as you? What's your gift? Tap into that, and share it with someone who is less fortunate in that area. From a professional stand point, this could be staying in the office an hour later to work one on one with an intern. It’s likely that they look up to you on some level and most likely aspire to be more like you at some point in their career. Let them pick your brain and offer a few insider tips for which they will be forever grateful.

3. Prepare a meal for those in need

Many people claim that getting their hands dirty in the kitchen is therapeutic and thats why they love to cook up a good soul food feast. When feeling overwhelmed, and overworked, its important that you know when to take a break, and what better way to take five than by shutting off the outside world and pouring your heart into a mixing bowl? You don't have to be chef status, just capable of creating something tasty. Even better, offer up your culinary creations to those in need. There are plenty of homeless shelters, transitional housing organizations, and even battered women's shelters that would be thrilled to have a nice meal donated. Being able to provide something so simple, yet so necessary, is guaranteed to bring you a sense of fulfillment.

4. Donating your clothes

Not only good for your closet, but good for your soul. When I was younger, my mom would take me school clothes shopping, and for each new piece I hung up, she would ask me to pick one piece I could donate in its place. This kept my clutter to a minimum, but also taught me a sense of value. Do you really need ALL the things ALL the time? Probably not. Learn to appreciate everything, but understand the value of each thing. Even though I appreciated all of the clothes in my closet, I learned that they had value at different levels. A shirt I wore out from last year, just wouldn't have the same value to me as it would for someone whose family couldn't afford to buy ANY school clothes this year. Again..all about perspective.

5. Building a better foundation for others

There’s an old saying about being upset over a hole in your shoe, until you come across a man who has no shoes. Go with that. On any and every level. When my dad passed away, I was only 20, and my mom was suddenly a 47 year old widow. I remember her going through a very helpless period and searching for some kind of "purpose" in her life again. Then all of a sudden this 5'2" almost fifty-something was spending her weekends doing construction. She had found her local chapter through Habitat For Humanity and was literally BUILDING HOUSES. Sounds intense, but for her it was the ultimate in restoring a sense of self-worth, and being able to check yourself when that voice creeps in to say "this sucks".

No matter where you are in life, you are doing just fine. If you ever start to doubt that, spend a weekend helping someone else. It just may end up helping you the most.