Working Isn’t the Only Way to Feel Good About Yourself

by Editorial Board on September 2, 2010 · 1 comment

in Vocational or Work Issues,Living with a Disability

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I have heard about many struggles in my time working with disabled folks, but one of the most consistent things I hear my clients worry about is their inability to work, and how that makes them feel.  Many people, especially men (but some women too), put a lot of their self worth into their ability to take care of their families through working.  Of course when a disability comes along that makes it so they cannot work many of these people begin to feel down, or even depressed, due to their perceived inability to take care of their family.

Working is not the only way you can provide for your family.  Doing your part to file for and get Social Security Disability benefits could also give you monthly income to financially support your family.

After you replace the income from work with Social Security Disability benefits it is important to discuss how you may feel when you are no longer working.  Even though you are providing for your family another way, many people will not be satisfied in a life without work.

Many people get satisfaction at work from doing a good job.  Some like the public recognition or praise they got from a boss or manager.  Others enjoy being a person who was depended on for working late when necessary, or for being the one that got asked lots of questions by co-workers.  All of these are ways that people feel gratified from their work, either through direct or indirect recognition.

Now that you are not working like you used to, it’s critical that you understand you can still seek out this type of gratification in other areas of your life.  Here are a few ideas to get you started thinking of ways you can apply your expertise and life experience in ways that can get you personal gratification.

Help Your Friends & Family More

Do you have a student in your household or extended family who could benefit from your advice or tutoring?  What about a friend or family member’s small business, maybe they can benefit from your experience?  You do not have to do these types of tutoring or mentoring experiences often for them to be of great value to the person you are helping.  Being recognized by your friends or family for helping them get prepared for a test, or help grow their business, can be just as rewarding as workplace recognition.

Consider Volunteering

Volunteer opportunities are great because many are setup for people who can only do them for just a few hours a week.  Volunteering experiences vary, many churches, hospitals, and museums seek out volunteers.  Many will provide you with a very close to working type experience.  Typically you will be able to put in as much time as you can handle, and you will often get the same gratifying experience from this kind of non-paid work as you did in a paid position.

Consider Joining an Organization

Find clubs or organizations that you can join that line up with your interests.  After a while learning how the clubs or organizations are run, consider taking on a leadership position.  Usually groups are run by an elected or appointed board, and typically the workload of board members is small, oftentimes just a few hours a month.  This type of work is similar to volunteering, and the work is very much like working in a business.  Your participation in the organization as a member, in addition to your leadership position within the group, should also be a rewarding experience.

Be Consistent Within Your Limitations

Understand that work was a constant for a large part of your life, and although you cannot work, or even do full time work substitutes, you can do other things to some extent within your limitations.  Realize that what you are looking for is the good feelings, gratification, or sense of accomplishment that you got from work and that those things can be found in more than one place.  By regularly scheduling these gratifying activities into your life you will find a way to be consistently valued, driven, and happy.

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