Although there are numerous benefits to volunteering, there can also be downfalls. Here are a few I’ve run into:
- Saying yes too much and getting taken advantage of in the process: There is definitely a fine line between trying to be nice, and taking ownership of responsibilities (on a regular basis) that really belong to someone else. If I’m not getting paid to do your job, I really don’t want too. Manipulators are really skilled at guilting people into taking on tasks they themselves would not want to do. We all have the same twenty-four hours in the day, and I’ve come to realize my time is just as valuable as everyone else’s.
- Volunteering to do something I really don’t want to do, and then getting angry later because I am overwhelmed: At times it’s better to say yes to myself, by saying NO to others. I also no longer feel the need to justify a no. Saying NO should be reason enough unless I feel like I want to elaborate on it. I usually don’t. I love that sign that states your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part.
- Someone else volunteering ME without consent: Some people have a problem with boundaries and it’s a good idea to say no sometimes (even IF I can say yes), if this becomes a pattern. Manipulators are skilled at catching a person in a weak moment, just to coerce the yes. If the yes didn’t come out of my lips directly, I reserve the right to say no at all times. This situation always lends itself to an easy out.
- While it is not my nature to automatically say yes to everything asked of me, I have gotten caught up with making a decision based on emotion when it comes to those I really care about. In my haste I have said yes too fast, forgetting other important obligations. My heart was in the right place when I volunteered, and now I have to let someone down that I really didn’t want to disappoint.
I’ve found a simple solution to these challenges. I wait twenty-four hours before giving an answer, sometimes forty-eight, even IF I think it is doable. That gives me time to check my schedule so that I can remain a person of my word. If the person needs to have an answer in that moment and can’t wait, my response is that it is a definite no if I can’t have enough time to make an informed decision. Volunteering is great, but personal obligations should be factored into the equation so that a positive event agreed upon for the right reason, does not become a stressful experience for all parties involved.