How I Avoid Experiencing Compassion Fatigue

I see a lot of people feeling burned out and overwhelmed with the current energies and the amount of anger, frustration, fear and resignation they feel and on the other hand those who make fun of the pain and suffering of others due to a lack of empathy. I have experiences myself in both states and still feel myself drawn into them or realize I have unconsciously slipped in them.

Before I share my practices let me share a definition of what I mean by compassion fatigue.

Compassion fatigue, also known as secondary traumatic stress (STS), is a condition characterized by a gradual lessening of compassion over time. Scholars who study compassion fatigue note that the condition is common among workers who work directly with victims of disasters, trauma, or illness, especially in the health care industry.
People who experience compassion fatigue can exhibit several symptoms including hopelessness, a decrease in experiences of pleasure, constant stress and anxiety, sleeplessness or nightmares, and a pervasive negative attitude. This can have detrimental effects on individuals, both professionally and personally, including a decrease in productivity, the inability to focus, and the development of new feelings of incompetency and self-doubt.
Journalism analysts argue that news media have caused widespread compassion fatigue in society by saturating newspapers and news shows with decontextualized images and stories of tragedy and suffering.  
~ Wikipedia

Everyone who uses social media in some capacity is experiencing and sensing  the overwhelm media consumption is creating, everyone who interacts with people experiences their states of heightened sensitivity verging on fragility and/or the currents of anger and resentment under thinning social veneers. Encounters with strangers feel more tense and draining as people are on edge.

Two years ago, on my return to my childhood home, I felt the overwhelming sensation of stress, tension and grayness in the collective field here. Quite a startling and challenging contrast to the collective field in Bangkok. I struggled to stay centered and not be pulled into lower frequency emotions and thinking simply by being in the field I grew up in.

I turned to a practitioner for a Thetahealing session which ended up in disconnecting me energetically from the collective unconsciousness in Germany. Of course such a disconnect is never total or isolating it asserts our sovereign and free will to engage with the field in a way that serves our awakening and growth. This gave me the respite to find daily awareness practices and form habits which would uphold my energetic sovereignty.

I chose to be more disciplined in unplugging myself from news, which was quite the challenge as my mother is a classic news junkie. I developed the habit of leaving the room whenever the TV was on and set to a news channel or political discussion I hadn’t chosen. See it is not about totally avoiding news or information but being intuitively selective while checking in with our current states. How centered am I? Will knowing this be relevant to my service and path? Which part of me is interested and why?

I chose to up my intake of high vibrational information and information that serves understanding existence, the human experience and pathways to healing.

I chose to make every moment a meditative and aware experience, bringing myself back to consciousness and presence whenever I has allowed myself to be drawn to past or future thinking and other expressions of being in the automatisms of the subconscious.

I chose to expand my self care and self love practices, to do more things with joy as well as more things that bring me joy, to create more space for playfulness to be part of my awareness and doing, to focus on the light, potential and humor of what I observe within and without.

I chose to anchor myself more deeply in my sovereignty, in spiritual laws, perceptions of life and relate all I observed back to these, thereby cultivating equanimity by seeing the oneness of the yin & yang aspects of everything.

I made it my priority to nurture and deepen my connection with Source, especially in times where I felt like I was almost disconnect. I didn’t allow resignation to take over all of me, I allowed for the feelings of sadness and isolation to flow through me while reminding myself gently that I can never be separate from Source.

All these practices and choices of where to put my energy and attention have brought me to a point where I can allow myself to open more fully to pain in the world and sit with it without needing to change it right away (savior) or falling into a victim mindset (resignation/ frustration) and eventually moving away from the pain by directing my attention and energy elsewhere when I sense that I am nearing the threshold of overwhelm.

I know the importance of being self loving and self caring by only allowing myself to feel as much as my system can take and then giving myself the permission to take a break by moving within, or doing something that allows me to feel expansive oneness without a sense of failing or guilt.

I understand now that we can serve best when we know our boundaries and honor them with self love. And as we honor our boundaries our nervous system and body relax into becoming more spacious and resilient in feeling and holding space for what is.

We have not only the right but also the duty to be protective of our more fragile and sensitive aspects. Protective, not from a place of fear and smallness but from the vastness of love – love of self and other.

Pacing ourselves, being mindfully selective of what to read, watch or consume mentally, physically or energetically is key in protecting our capacity to be empathetic and compassionate towards others and self.

When the inner conflict between the parts in us that feel we need to be there for others and to actively participate in life, society, community or family reconcile themselves with the parts in us that want to protect us and see us in our power we will find our individual flow and graceful balance between engagement and recharging.

When we emotionally and physically “get” that self care and healing is also a service to others by bringing more peace to the field (internal activism) and by empowering us to be more present and effective in our external activism or activities.

Though we live in a dimension of dualities, the pathway to lasting change and shifts truly opens up when we find the zero point, when the knowing of the oneness of all things is embodied in our equanimity. 

Remember to be gentle with and take care of your beautiful selves!

Photo: Eric Corton in Malawi by Unknown
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