After being housebound or chronically ill, returning to work can be a very scary prospect. For some it is the thought of being away from their Carer, or in a physical environment they aren’t comfortable with. For others it’s being around people after a long period of isolation. It doesn’t really matter what the issue is that creates the fear, because it always comes down to one of two things. Fear we will not meet the expectation of others, or of ourselves. That we will not be good enough, that we will disappoint. But there are definitely ways of overcoming it.
A lot of doctors recommend volunteer work as a gateway back into employment. Starting with a few hours a week and building up from there. I know people who have taken this route and found it very successful. There is certainly less pressure to perform if you aren’t being paid for your time, so the fear of not meeting an employer’s expectation is removed. You can control your own timetable and find a place close to home so there is less anxiety about the location if this is your main concern. All in all I can certainly see why it is such a popular route.
I have to say that for me the benefits of any sort of voluntary work definitely run a lot deeper than that. Anyone who has gone through an illness or physical trauma has had the very foundations of their life shaken. It’s hard to trust that the world is a good or safe place after something like that. It’s very common for people to resist creating their own Life After because who wants to willingly participate in a dark scary world where nothing seems secure or safe anymore?
Being of Service is an incredibly effective form of Healing. It’s like a set of lenses you can put on the world that makes it makes sense. Being around people who love and care for people they have no agenda with, getting nothing in return, that kind of love restores faith in humanity. It makes the world seem like a nice place to live in. And it’s a lot easier to motivate ourselves to get out there and actively participate in a world like that, than to discipline ourselves to learn how to exist in a world full of unkind strangers.
It takes enough physical effort to learn how to walk again, or look people in the eye and not be afraid, or speak to them and not have your voice and body constantly shake. That is a real and physically painful effort for many months. I know, I remember it very well. But it does not have to be an effort to get back into society. If you can deliberately look for examples of goodness, of kindness, of love, if you can find people and a world that you are excited about living in-even if you don’t yet believe you can do what they do, or can have what they have. If you can find anyway possible of finding those who Serve, and if you are able to, to join them and Be of Service to Others in a way that speaks to you authentically, then I can promise you that this is the Path that will lead you straight to a life you love unabashedly.
For me that’s what the real beauty of volunteering is, and any time I feel my confidence in myself is shaken -or the world I worked so hard to be a part of again -this is where I turn to. I ask myself who can I serve and how can I serve them? And everything else falls into place around me. I really hope you try it because it’s as good a start as any, and today is a good day to make that first move back into the world…