Service to others has the wondrous property of erasing the pain of the past. No matter if our upset is about the pain of betrayal or abuse or our own regrettable actions.
Service to others also alleviates the pain of our guilt and lessens our self-hate. That’s why, for example, the last Step in all 12-step programs is about being of service to others.
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Benevolence: The Magic Elixir
Being of service is the fastest way to getting out of your own petty and not-so-petty problems and into greater serenity. Many studies show that true benevolence increases self-esteem, lifts depression, alleviates chronic pain, builds health and even leads to a longer life! One researcher describes the good feelings that come from service as the “helper’s high.” Giving activates the brain’s reward center with dopamine-mediated euphoria, much like eating or having sex does.
Harvard psychologist David McClelland did a study where he asked students to watch Mother Teresa helping orphans in Calcutta. Those students showed signs of an increase in their immune system that he called the “Mother Teresa Effect!” So even just thinking about being of service to others is profoundly helpful.
Out of your spiritual awakening a mission of service to others will call out to you, whether it is huge and helps thousands or as small as a smile to a stranger. This is where big love resides, the kind that makes you finally content and full. The love that flows everywhere into infinity through compassion and giving. As William Blake wrote:
“I am in you and you in me, mutual in divine love.”
Only one caveat here: codependency.
Service to others can backfire and create more pain for you if you are in a codependent rut, where you are taking care of others constantly at your own expense. If codependent over-giving is your problem, I suggest pursuing more meditation and attending a 12-step group that teaches non-attachment, like Al-Anon.
Or if you need immediate help because you are being dragged down in a relationship where you are overgiving allow me to help you. Consider giving yourself a gift of a free one-on-one coaching session with one of my expert Love Mentors®. You will learn to establish self-caretaking boundaries so that you can then choose to stand back from handling a crisis situation or to step in and help. It is only from a peaceful and emotionally detached state of mind that you can be of true service to others.
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from my new book, The Diamond Self Secret: Say Good-Bye to Your Inner Critic and Hello to Self-Acceptance, Serenity, and Lasting Love.
Sending you love