Compassion fatigue “a form of burnout that manifests itself as physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion.”
Considered a secondhand stress reaction and known as co-suffering.
It’s defined as a noun and a feeling, but as Thich Nhat Hahn so eloquently states, “compassion is a verb.”
Generally reserved for nurses, doctors, first-responders, and caregivers, with the pandemic compassion fatigue has moved into the home, workplace, and the world.
Beforehand, you could expect to experience a certain amount of stress, pain, or disruption from unforeseen change. It always came down to a number. All you had to do was see where you fit on a timeline to know what stage you’re at on the grieving scale, or what step you’re in from addiction recovery. Numbers hold power and when you have a number to hold onto, you create an outcome. Remember, there’s safety in numbers.
To not have a number to work towards, whether it be where you want to be at a certain age, a weight to bench press, a dress size, an amount in the bank account, how much to set aside for savings, and your place in a queue, it keeps you in a place of disorientation.
But there isn’t a number right now.
It’s a level playing field. No one is ahead of anyone else. Compassion is very much needed right now, but you need to extend it to yourself for it to have any real depth. “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” ~Anonymous
The action comes from self awareness. It’s that recognition that you can remain part of the problem – or be part of the solution. You can either put your energy into creating change to rebuild foundations, or deplete your energy by blindly handing out tools that serves only to create more work for others.
Self-serving isn’t without compassion when your intention is to not just better yourself, but how it will better everyone.
Have you experienced some level of compassion fatigue this year?