Helping Hurts

by Andy Conrad, MA, PLPC, NCC

Empathy

Those serving in helping professions share a common feeling– that soul-deep responsibility for those under their care. Then, that empathic nature leaves many wondering if more could have been done, imagining alternate scenarios in the vacuum of hindsight, and questioning professional self-worth. These burdensome cycles of thought are products of the already distressing experiences of witnessing the physical and emotional contortions of trauma. 

Trees in a forest

Suffering

Direct and vicarious trauma are what healthcare workers endure every day. Many are left feeling like their empathy is running out. With an open heart, vast waves of emotion and suffering are let inside, but rarely are they allowed to exit, and as a result, nurses, doctors, therapists, and technicians encounter helplessness in recapturing that empathy and releasing the suffering of others from their spirits. 

Health care workers

Healing

Release, balance, contentment, peace, wholeness, and empathy can be mined from the passions and interests that tether every person to existence. Yes, that very profession that is causing you heartache can be a passion, but to create balance, nurturing other passions will lead to a healthier sense of being and a refreshed ability to give yourself grace. Those moments of contentment can lie in the simplest forms– a morning ritual of black coffee or an evening walk with your hound. Rejuvenation springs from a commitment to fully experience and engage in what brings you meaning, purpose, and passion. 

Hands in prayer

Light

Carl Jung stated, “…the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” Life is naturally full of shadows and suffering, which is why light must live in willfulness. Action begets mood, and using your senses to take in those purest moments will deliver a new sense of empathy, where appreciation reigns and fear melts away. Share your ideas. Share your pain. Share your challenges. Share your healing. Create connectedness.

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