How to Give Back When You Feel Overwhelmed


I recently wrote about how to give to the world in a way that feels fulfilling. There are many different ways to give and different levels of commitment, but sometimes we resist giving because we feel overwhelmed.

We may feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of options for giving.

We may feel overwhelmed because we don’t know where to start.

Or we may feel so caught up in all the problems and suffering in the world that we feel like nothing we do could possibly make a difference.

Staying stuck in overwhelm helps no one, least of all ourselves. Here are some ways to get out of that overwhelm so you can give in a way that fulfills you.


How do you want to give?

Our main job is to be a source of love and light, which means contributing to others. We get to decide how to give, and not everyone is going to give in the same way.

We all have different interests, talents, and causes that resonate with us.

You may not feel called to work directly with people, but you might want to help animals by fostering pets, giving to conservations, or working for an organization that protects wildlife.

I wouldn’t feel fulfilled by, say, launching a sports program for children, but I still think it’s useful and important. It’s just not for me. I can give in a much bigger way by doing the work I do.

There are so many ways we can give, and it’s important that you pick a cause that you’re called to. It’s all valid, and it’s all good.

What kind of causes call to you? They don’t have to be solving world hunger or creating global change all by yourself. Just start with what interests you.


When You Feel Paralyzed by the Magnitude of the Suffering in the World

There’s a lot going on in our world right now, and we can see this as cause for despair or as an opportunity to give in meaningful ways.

Here a few things to remember if you’re feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed:

  • There are many ways to give. You can choose a cause that inspires you and give on any level you wish.
  • You can start small. You don’t have to jump in with both feet and start giving on Level 1 right away (though you could!). (Read this post for a review on the different levels of giving.) Dip your toes into a cause you care about and be on the lookout for connection and opportunities to give more.
  • You don’t have to change the world all by yourself. You can always get help and get other people on board. Incredible things can happen when one person takes the initiative.
  • Keep your eyes open for day-to-day opportunities to help. They’re everywhere! This might mean doing things that are inconvenient at the moment, but they can create a ripple effect that spreads outward to touch other lives.

I was driving home last summer and saw a cyclist who had blown out a tire on his bike. I offered him a ride and drove him home, and I never saw him again. It wasn’t Level 1 giving, but who knows where that man will go from that. It was something I realized I could do, and I was happy to do it.

Life is full of opportunities like these!

Giving more might mean making one phone call here and having lunch with a connection there. It might mean getting more informed about what’s going on in your community and how you can contribute.

But mostly, it involves keeping your eyes open and allowing for synchronicity.



When you open yourself to synchronicity and look for ways to give, opportunities may fall right into your lap!

Someone might mention an opportunity in casual conversation, and you might realize it’s exactly what you’ve been looking for.

You may start seeing flyers and notices around your neighborhood.

You may find out your neighbor is going through a challenging time and could use your help.

Have you heard of the Law of Attraction where what we focus on grows stronger? That is at work here as well!

When you look for an opportunity, you’ll find it. If you focus on wanting to contribute, to give in a way that feels happy and joyful, you’ll find more ways to give. (Well, the act of giving may not always feel joyful, you’ll feel joyful with the outcome.)

One more thing: When you find these opportunities, you may fall into the trap of assuming that these causes wouldn’t want you. You may feel unqualified. Instead of assuming that this is the case, talk to them and see if they would actually like your help.

I invite you to spend some time reflecting on how you’ve contributed in your life and how you’d like to contribute in the future.

How do you want to give?


  1. Millie Fitzpatrick on March 17, 2020 at 8:42 am

    Louise, thank you
    Please stay well
    We are in a “Neighbors” Assn which we
    are starting here, something like Village-to-Village which started in Back Bay in
    Boston. I have two neighbors that stay in touch. People can unite, say, in a small
    Neighborhood. By calling each other,
    asking if anything is needed at the store,
    or as one my neighbors does to help me, returns my trash bins up to to the house after they have been emptied. These are small ways, and it is helpful not only to the receiver, but also to the giver. They are offering a part of themselves. They can join the NextDoor in their community where neighbors offer valuable information as well as contact information. And the great part of this? You get to connect with nice people. Being positive is everything now and in life.
    Please, stay well. If I can be of any help, be in touch

    • Louise Finlayson on September 23, 2020 at 4:26 pm

      Dear Millie,
      I’m so pleased to hear from you. I hope you are well!
      Crises tend to be times that we either act from our highest and most noble selves, or from our most base and primitive selves. I know that anyone reading this is committed to the former. I encourage everyone to join your Nextdoor group to better communicate with those in your immediate neighborhood, connect (phone or virtually)with anyone you know who is isolated or vulnerable, send love notes and letters of gratitude (virtually), and be of service so as to not become overly self-focused. Remember, we are stronger together.
      Be well dear, Millie, and I’ll see you on the other side of this!

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