Compassion Fatigue: Duking it out with the Elephant in the Room

You’re in a caring profession. You care.

However, sometimes our “muscles” of compassion and empathy can get tired. You might be easily distracted when you’re with the people you serve. You might not care as much or be using your skills to the best of your ability.

It can be hard for us to admit that this is  happening to us. We’d rather just push through it and pretend it isn’t there.

elephant-in-the-room

Then kablam! You realize “I’m suffering from compassion fatigue!”

It can feel like everyone is dealing with this better than we are. I’ll tell you a secret about humanity though, we all have our issues. Even the well adjusted “superstar” of your team can have a hard time with compassion fatigue.

So, how do we help ourselves through this? One of the great ways is to collaborate with our peers.

Wait. What?

Really. Collaborating with our peers can help us like crazy.

It struck me that that there are literally thousands in the caring professions who are working really hard, giving generously of themselves and sometimes feeling really worn out in body and psyche because of the nature of this demanding work. I am guessing that no one in the world has this whole thing solved. Yep. No one. However, if we have one small piece of the puzzle worked out, shouldn’t we share what we have?

I had the honour recently of presenting my keynote “The Wellness Solution: Help Yourself Help The World” for The Canadian Mental Health Association: Waterloo Wellington Dufferin. I asked people to share how they dealt with this when they were having a tough day.

What happened my friends, was significant.

People stood up, talked and joked.  They shared solutions and strategies to help each other with this tough issue and the energy of the room took off. As a speaker, it was so much fun to see more than a hundred people dive in and collaborate. In fact, folks were so pumped about helping each there that I had trouble ending the exercise and getting on with the show. It was a real testament to how generous people in the caring professions are and how, when we share what we have, everybody wins.

When the day ended, people were happier knowing that they helped their colleagues and that they had learned some valuable tools they could use the next time the elephant tried to sneak back in the room.