Using Service As A Tool To Get UnstuckMar 15, 2022
As you continue on your journey to an authentic, empowered life, it is important to acknowledge that you will feel stuck sometimes. Let’s face it - life happens. You will run into obstacles and challenges. In those moments, it’s easy to fall back into old patterns and routines.
Whether you feel like you’ve plateaued in your progress or are stuck in a rut, you can use service as a tool to help you get back on track - and stay on track!
What is service?
When you are overwhelmed or going down the rabbit hole of blame, shame, guilt, anger, despondence, and more, you can use service to help you snap out of it. But what is service?
Service is simply doing something helpful for someone else. Beyond the beauty of doing something for someone else, focusing on others allows you to shift your focus outside of yourself, which interrupts the emotional thought pattern that you’re experiencing. It pauses the chatter inside your head long enough for the biochemical reaction to subside so that you can take a step back and reassess the situation.
For example, if you are in a downward thought spiral about something that happened to you, it may sound something like this in your head: “I can’t believe my tire burst on the way to my date! Why does this stuff always happen to me? This tire is going to cost me a fortune and there’s nobody here to help me. I’m either going to be stuck out here forever or have to pay a ton of money that I don’t have to get out of here. How am I going to pay for this? I won’t be able to pay my rent or my bills, my lights will be shut off, my credit score is going to plummet, and I’ll never be able to get out of this cycle!”
In that moment of overwhelm and exasperation, it’s hard to say to yourself, “It’s just a tire, I’ll call AAA and have this sorted out within the hour.”
Instead of staying in overwhelm and going down the rabbit hole, you can interrupt the pattern by shifting your focus to someone who you know is going through a rough time. Take a deep breath and send them a quick text checking on them or letting them know you’re thinking of them. While sending them a text message certainly doesn’t change the fact that you’re stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire, it does shift your focus long enough to let your body’s biochemical stress response pass so that you can reframe, reset, and respond, rather than react, to the situation.
Doing an act of service can help you bounce back from the negative mindset and change your perspective on the situation.
How to use service to create a resilient mindset
You do not need to make a grand gesture to use service as a tool to get unstuck from a negative mindset. In fact, it can be as small as sending a quick text message.
Here are a few ideas to keep in mind next time you are in a rut and decide to use service as a tool to get unstuck:
- Send an encouraging text message: Everyone appreciates feeling seen. Maybe you check in with a friend that you know is having a rough time, or send your partner a message of support to brighten their day. Let them know that you’re thinking of them and that you’re grateful for them!
- Surprise a loved one: If we continue the example above, if you’re dealing with a blown tire, you’re likely experiencing frustration and physiological changes like a high heart rate, sweaty palms, or shallow breathing. However, if you check in on a loved one, you’ll shift your focus to more positive feelings such as calmness and connectedness, and you’ll notice your body beginning to settle back down. With today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to make someone’s day. Perhaps you will call your parent or sibling out of the blue and make their day. Not only will it feel great for them to receive it, but you will experience a positive shift as well.
- Help someone on the spot: Going back to the tire change example, maybe your tow truck driver got stuck in traffic and arrives to you visibly frustrated. Maybe you crack a joke (laughter would provide a powerful release of biochemical happiness for you both!). Or maybe you simply offer them words of encouragement. Again, getting out of your head and into a place of assistance and gratitude will help you as much as it helps someone else!
You see, doing these things can bring a smile to someone else’s face, while also giving you a shot of biochemical happiness. When stuff hits the fan, you will have this tool in your back pocket to help you change your physiological response and approach situations with a clearer head, a more centered heart, and a better perspective.
Harnessing the power of service as a tool to change your focus, your physiology, and your perspective can also help you to build a resilient mindset and put you in the driver’s seat of your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Using service to maintain your momentum
Once you’ve used service as a tool to get unstuck once, you now have this skill in your ‘toolbox’ to be able to use again and again. You will create new patterns in your thinking and be able to use service as a tool next time you start to go down a negative thought path.
You can also use service as a tool to stay unstuck. You can create a habit of doing random acts of kindness for others and maintain your positive mindset.
One way to create this habit is to schedule it in your calendar. You can give yourself pleasant reminders to stay in the habit of service, and eventually it will become second nature.
Here are a few examples of how to stay in the habit of service:
- Encourage your team: Let people know when you see them doing a great job, or when you’ve included them in your gratitude practice.
- Take on a task: Does your partner or roommate hate one specific chore? If you don’t mind it, you can take this task on for yourself so that they don’t have to. You don’t have to do it every day, but can even take this task off their plate once a week or once a month to bring them joy.
- Donate your unused items: Donating to homeless shelters or other organizations as a habit can help you stay connected with your community and create a positive habit. Once a quarter, you can clear out your cabinets and donate non-perishables. Or you can make a habit of clearing out your unused clothes, toys, or other household items and donate them to a family in need.
Service is a great tool to stay unstuck. You may want to take a few minutes to brainstorm ways that you can create a habit of service and keep it handy so that you can call on this list next time you find yourself feeling trapped in a negative thought pattern.
Create a life you love
Your life is yours to create. You can choose to live in a negative mindset or a positive one. Even when those negative thoughts creep up inside you, you have the power to quickly shift your mindset by pausing to do something in service for someone else.
These pauses not only allow you to change your thoughts, but also bring joy into other people’s lives. Service is a powerful tool!
As you develop your service practice, I recommend listening to this free 28 minutes audio recording. In it, I share how you can shift your perspective, create an empowering narrative, and harness the power of gratitude. With these skills, you CAN become the designer of your destiny!