When one is in the profession of helping and ends up with what is commonly referred to as compassion fatigue, what is really going on? Why does exhaustion set in from helping people where a person gets so stressed that she/he needs to take significant time off work or ends up leaving the profession all together?
The phrase Compassion Fatigue is a misnomer, and don’t actually go together as their meaning carries significantly different energies, and are in fact polar opposites.
The phrase, incorrectly coined by society, points to a feeling process that simply cannot exist simultaneously. True compassion is an open and pure heart-felt place of caring and love toward oneself and toward fellow human beings. Compassion begins with the helper, and the primary question a helper should be asking is “how compassionate and loving am I being to myself”? What I mean by this is that the helper needs to pay close attention and care for their own feeling body. When one is compassion and loving to oneself, caring first and foremost to ones own well-being then the greatest service and love can be shown to another. Self care is a high form of compassion, and fatigue comes no where into play. But, easier said!
In the midst of caring for another, and when doing so doesn’t feel good, the feeling reveals that something within is amiss. Amiss in the sense that it’s a perfect and pure sign from ones body that one is interpreting something that is not in accordance with the loving resonance that is inherent in each person.
When resonating from a deep place of love then listening to others’ life stories, opinions and interpretations will not be tiring. A state of loving presence is the ultimate way to be of service.
Exhaustion happens as a result of prolonged focus upon negative ways of looking at the world. If you believe in the notion that thoughts create energy and continuing certain thoughts over a prolonged period of time develops momentum, then you will begin to understand how fatigue can happen. But, it certainly does not happen as a result of one being too compassionate. And when you step way back from the process of “helping”, or continuously listening to other peoples stories of pain and suffering, it make sense that doing so will eventually be fatiguing.
Continuously listening to people’s stories of heartache is a recipe for deep unhappiness if one does not have a very strong, consistent and heart-centred wellness practice in place. When listening to stories of suffering too long both the helper and helped end up being sucked down the tube of perpetual unhappiness, and at that point the helper becomes an enabler where both suffer. I’ve heard people say that compassion fatigue is a result of caring too much. In truth, it’s about caring too little for oneself.
If one is truly wanting to be of service one of the most valuable ways is to help people refocus on the good in themselves and in life. But this is a delicate process where the helper needs to be considerate not to offer radically opposing “positive” views of what the other is saying. Raising vibration and consciousness often needs to be a baby-set process where focus and energy is shifted slowly. Entering a conversation with greater loving presence and helping others shift their focus is what I believe to be the main reasons why many have shared that they feel better after our time together. Over the years I have learned to spend less time in a person’s story of suffering and more time in refocusing their thought and belief systems to the truth of who they really are, that they are in fact not their story and that there is a whole lot more going on that they realize at the time. I also suggest that their process is extremely important, a necessary lesson so that they can expand to a different way of being and that there is nothing going wrong.
True compassion comes from a deeply loving place where the helper is centred in the knowing their higher-power, the universe or God (insert the reference that resonates mostly with you).
For the helpers to come from this place they must develop a strong self-check practice, and to fully understand the energy dynamic of what is truly happening in the helping process. If they don’t they will crumble under the weight of their own misalignment, and from the sheer weight (energy) of the other persons story. If one is truly compassionate, fatigue will never set in. Yes, fatigue will be experienced occasionally but the helper will quickly recover by virtue of their heart-centred practice and inner knowing.
Peter Paul Harnisch, Copyright, 2018.