Congratulations, you made it to the final month of 2020. Let’s all take a moment to pause, inhale deeply, exhale (or scream if you would like).
We Are All Navigating The Same Storm But In Different Boats
I have read all your messages about loss, grief, or struggles, thank you for sharing your vulnerable moments of 2020 with me. I am sorry you lost jobs, took a pay cut, dropped out of grad school, didn’t attend your family member’s funeral, had co-workers laid off, took on the work of 3 people, suffered health issues, or are sick of the political divide.
I want you to know that you are not alone. We are navigating the same storm but in different boats. When we are stuck in our own storm, it is difficult for our brains to comprehend another individual’s pain and suffering.
What happens to our empathy when we are stuck in different boats?
- Your co-worker hasn’t asked you once about virtual schooling your children.
- Your best friend has hijacked the conversation about their vacation plans while you are processing a family death.
- Your family is still nagging you about your dating life/having children/job promotion possibilities over virtual holiday meals.
- You feel like you are the only one at work struggling to make your sales goals, complete a project, or balance your home life.
It feels as if the world or your social circle lacks empathy, but the truth of the matter is we are all overwhelmed. When we are overwhelmed with our own personal and professional challenges, our emotions become hijacked. We feel spent and can’t even begin to process another person’s grief/suffering/anger/pain.
Empathy Deficiency Caused By Compassion Fatigue
Has the world lost the ability to be kind, compassionate, and exhibit empathy?
A true lack of empathy is a psychiatric symptom of antisocial personality disorder, psychopathy, or autistic spectrum disorder.
When a loved one or colleague lacks empathy, the cause is likely that the stress response hijacks their emotions. When the stress response turns on in our brains, we can become blind or unaware of our surroundings. For most, we could not turn off the stress in our lives since early 2020.
In addition to being emotionally hijacked, you may feel emotionally spent. You have nothing further to give of your mind, heart, or time. When you are giving from that empty space- we suffer compassion fatigue.
Compassion fatigue is a condition characterized by emotional and physical exhaustion leading to a diminished ability to empathize or feel compassion for others, often described as the negative cost of caring.
Be Mindful Of Yourself
Be mindful of others, and they might not be mindful of you. Be mindful of your own health, and you will be able to care for others.
The remedy for compassion fatigue? Radical self-care.
This is not the take a 20-minute hot bath, sipping on hot cocoa variety of self-care. Radical self-care means that you will prioritize your mental, cognitive, and physical well-being above all else. Stop giving me side-eye.
- What are some steps you can do to prioritize your sleep in your schedule?
- Do you have access to help for mental health through your company’s employee assistance program?
- Can you replace mind-numbing social media scrolling with making nutritious meals or physical movement?
Stay tuned for next week’s resource on creating a plan to help you rise, heal, and process 2020.
- APA Compassion Fatigue: https://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/compassion-fatigue
- Radical Self Care: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/202006/its-time-radical-self-care