As emotionally sensitive people, we often think that when we do something, we must do it big…fantastically…brilliantly, and with all of our effort, every single time. The fact is, this is not always the case, and it’s a lot of pressure to put on oneself if you’re feeling down and distressed. Sometimes, when feeling like this, just doing the minimum in terms of self-care and our responsibilities is all that is realistic.
Beyond this, when feel we have nothing to give, if we put forth the tiniest effort to do so anyway, we can be reap the rewards of this distress tolerance skill while helping others. This, as I’ve mentioned before, truly is a win-win DBT Skill.
Last night, feeling bored and restless, I decided to do something constructive with my time and do meal planning for the week. As part of this, I used the app for one of the grocery store chains that we have here in California. With it, I tend to find ways to save money with coupons and specials.
As I was scrolling through, I noticed a few items that the store was offering me completely free of charge, so I added the offers to my store card. This meant I could go to the store, add these items to my cart during my regular shopping, at check-out they would be deducted from the total cost, and I’d receive them for free.
These are the items that came up:
Although these are products I wouldn’t personally choose to shop for, the idea occurred to me that these items could come as a blessing to a family in need. So, my plan began to form: I’d add these items to my groceries the next day then leave them in a place where the community often leaves things such as food, clothes, books, magazines, and other useful items that others may need or want.
In the midst of my irritability, boredom, and restlessness, I felt a little smile come on. It felt good inside. I imagined little children yelling, “Mommy, Mommy, look! Cinnamon Toast Crunch! And look, it comes with a prize inside!” I knew this was one little way I could contribute – and it didn’t cost me a dime or very much of my time – and it felt GOOD.
Today, I picked up the items, as planned…
…and I dropped them off.
As I drove away, it felt so good to re-imagine a family in need claiming these items. I will be doing this again the next time such offers come up on that app, and I’ll also clip those occasional free item coupons that come in the various grocery store flyers. This will be my little way of contributing on those days when I want to get outside of myself and my own problems and concerns and brighten someone else’s day.
I looked around on the net to see how other people were using this opportunity to help others and came across this heartwarming video of a Mom who clips coupons with twenty other local moms, on a large scale, to help a local shelter. You don't have to take it to this level to make a difference, of course. I just found her commitment and everything she's doing encouraging. If you have a lot of time on your hands and are looking to fill it with Contributing, it might be something to consider.
I could have watched this video and thought that what I did "wasn't enough," but if it makes just one person smile, and helps them out, I beg to differ. And, I've practiced the skill. Remember that any little thing you do to make a positive difference counts.
Might you try this as a way to contribute? Do you have any other ideas for how to practice this skill?
Thanks for reading.