Archive | April, 2019

How do you fix Compassion Fatigue??

17 Apr

Anyone who really knows me knows that I thrive on “fixing it.”  I got that from my dad …  My dad made a career out of fixing things.  He was an industrial HVAC tech, but his drive to fix things started WAY BEFORE he began that career.  He was the son of a plumber.  His dad taught him all kinds of things, and most of all to not give up on fixing something.  When he was twelve, he took the engine out of an old truck, rebuilt it, and got it running.  When he was TWELVE.  He could fix almost anything.  And, he taught me.

Then, sadly, I landed in a profession that has many things that are conventionally “unfixable.”  But, we Wikes don’t give up.

How do you fix Compassion Fatigue??

The easy answer is STOP CARING.  Working with my dad for years, I quickly learned what callouses were.  And how they got on your hands.  If you work with tools, if you work hard, you WILL have callouses.  You will have these tender spots on the palms of your hands (especially near the tops) that will eventually harden and allow you to work without pain.

One temptation for someone who works in an industry that requires care for others is to allow the callouses to develop and stay there:  In other words, allowing your heart to harden and making it easier for you to function without feeling it.  Without caring (or without caring so deeply).  Some are able to compartmentalize their feelings and function at a high level doing this.  Most are not.  If you naturally care, you will be terribly unsatisfied in your job if you do this.

This is not so easy for many people, especially medical providers, teachers, administrators, people who work in service industries, and people who work in ministry.  If you stop caring, you will have a difficult time getting your job done.

The answer to “how can I fix it??”  might be that YOU CAN’T.  If you want to feel empathy, you will feel the hurt that comes with it.  But there are things you can do to maintain your health!!

The ancient Hebrews believed in a model of the WHOLE PERSON as being a compilation of three parts:  MIND, BODY, and SOUL.  You can make it through Compassion Fatigue, but you MUST address health in ALL THREE AREAS of your life.

Take care of your MIND!  Give your mind a BREAK!  Read things that are NOT job related.  Go see a movie!!  Do crossword puzzles or other activities that occupy your mind and allow it to exercise.  Start a blog or write in a journal!!  (And when people call you a narcissist for writing a blog, just bless their hearts!!!!)  Find what it is that will give your mind a break and DO IT!!

Take care of your BODY!   You don’t have to start by running a marathon, but running is a great activity!!  Gives you a chance to think, too!  (This morning as I ran under a full moon, all I could think about is how the high temperature today would be almost DOUBLE what the current temp was when I ran at 5:15!  But, that is another story)  ANOTHER great, therapeutic activity that I love is 9Round!!  (9Round Florence)  There is just something about being able to go into the gym and PUNCH STUFF!!!  It is a great workout, always supervised by a trainer, and they adjust to whatever fitness level you are at!!!  FIND SOMETHING to do to burn calories and expend energy.  WALK!!  Join a gym!!  Start slow, and do SOMETHING for your body!!

Take care of your SOUL!!  Now, honestly, I could come up with some generic mumbo-jumbo about this, but I’ll tell you the truth:  YOU NEED A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.  You were BORN for a relationship with God.  The need to know Him is built into you, even if you deny it.  And the only way to accomplish this is a relationship with Jesus Christ.  If you want to know more about that, click on this link:  How can I be saved?  Find a local church in which you can get involved!!  (And, if you are near Florence, come see me at Ebenezer Baptist Church!!!)

For those who KNOW Christ and find themselves in this spot, DIG DEEPER INTO YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM!! Make sure you are spending time with God.  He cares and He knows better than anyone about the things you face.  Spend time with Him.  IT WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!

If you are here … Close to the edge … Close to a breakdown because of Compassion Fatigue … DO SOMETHING.  Talk to someone.  Find someone you can trust and allow them to help you.  And you will probably help them!!  Burdens are lighter when they are carried by two (or more) sets of shoulders.  The most important thing you can do is RECOGNIZE WHERE YOU ARE in this and DO SOMETHING TO HELP YOURSELF!!!  Because, YOU CAN DO THIS!!  You can take steps to be healthy AND care!!  If I can help you in any way, please let me know!!!!

The Price of Caring

15 Apr

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation or two with a friend who is a psychologist.  We were talking about how helping people is a great calling, but it takes a chunk out of you.  Especially if you are an introvert.  While extroverts actually gain energy being around others, introverts  expend energy to keep up with the social gymnastics of relating to others.  That is NOT a judgement against people, just a fact of introvert-ness (if that is really a word).

The price is higher when you care about others and watch them suffer.  When you sympathize with others, you relate to their pain and their struggles.  You can take on their challenges, and it takes a toll on you.  This is a fact of any and every profession that provides care for others.

I must stop right here and remind you that, while this is a distant cousin of the PTSD-related problems faced by soldiers and law enforcers, it is not quite the same.  The stakes are so much higher for those men and women that face danger and death every day for our safety.  Theirs is a more brutal reality.  The nature of life-and-death is much more near.  “Life and Death” is their reality EVERY DAY.

But, caring for others does its damage in other ways.  In small ways.  You hurt when they hurt.  When they face tragedy and heartbreak, you face it.  You feel it.  And when you multiply each small impact by the number of people in your world, the number about which you care, it takes small chunks out of your heart, your mind, and perhaps your soul.

Then, when you think you have managed the steady flow of tragedy, along comes a betrayal.  Or a tidbit of gossip.  Maybe it comes from someone on the fringe.  Maybe it comes from someone close to you.  And it takes another chunk out of you.

When you love big, you trust.  When the trust is broken, you cannot love “so big” anymore.  And you find it harder to trust.

Last week, I was talking to another friend who is a teacher.  A friend I have known for 20 years or more.  A teacher who is greatly loved and admired by her students.  And she was on the edge…  Her peers tell her she cares too much.  She doesn’t know how to do her job any other way, but it hurts.  The small chunks have become one big hole.  She and her colleagues are praying for Thursday to come quickly, so they can have a time to gather their thoughts, catch their breath, and heal a little before the push to the end of the school year.

A nurse introduced me to the name for this real syndrome:  Compassion Fatigue.  This nurse, who has worked in Hospice, managed cases, and done several other things in her career, told me Compassion Fatigue is unfortunately alive and well in her profession, in my profession, in teaching, in counseling…  Anyone who cares about others will pay a price.

So … if YOU are in a spot where you know this makes an impact on YOU, how do YOU cope??   How will YOU deal with Compassion Fatigue?

I hope and pray that you will find someone trustworthy and TALK TO THEM.  Not saying necessarily that you need to be in “counseling,” but find someone you can trust.  Someone who faces or has faced the same situations you face.  Talk to them.  Drink  coffee with them.  Trust them.  They can probably help.  You might be able to help them.

You and I, we can beat Compassion Fatigue.  But we must be intentional.  Take the first step.

Praying for you today!!!!