Not actually – not in the way it is usually meant.
I have been working on some compassion fatigue material and this image of a jar with a lid came to mind. Compassion fatigue is simply the cost of caring. When we care so much that it empties us from the inside out. There is certain thought that some of us naturally are drawn to the wounded and the hurt and our caring roles have existed long before we had formal roles. Caring for our family members even when we were children. Caring for our friends – attracting friends who needed support.
It could be that we grew up in an environment that celebrated us in our caring role. Maybe that was the main time we were given acknowledgement. Perhaps it was what was expected of us. Often, however, what can happen is that our caring from such an early age may have led to us having only other directed care, and not enough care for ourselves.
Psychologically speaking we may have developed certain life scripts that taught us to suppress our on preferences, decision and desires. We may have been pushed only to look at meeting the needs of others, and perhaps made to feel guilty if we attended to our own. Perhaps we do not feel worthy of care ourselves.
Yet we know we cannot care from a glass or tank half empty. Our body needs care and attention, as does our mind and soul. It may be difficult to shed years and years of guilt. But you know what? You can just for today try something a little different.
Why not take a piece of paper and write down all the people you are caring for right now and all the things that weigh them down. Acknowledge that this probably will not change in the immediate. Yet you can lay down that burden for a little while. Then place that piece of paper in a jar and put a lid on it. Put it safely in a cupboard somewhere.
Now. Breathe. Walk away from the cupboard and allow yourself to attend to yourself. Do you need a glass of water? Would you like to take a walk. Perhaps sit in the sunglight for a while. Give yourself the opportunity to experience what it is to direct the attention to yourself and what you need to care for yourself.
Valerie Ling, MClin Psych, BA(Hons), MAPS, Clinical Psychologist has a passion for helping people find their voice and continue to write their life’s story. Committed to prevent burnout and empowering individuals to life an effective life, she is the Director and Founder of The Centre For Effective Living.