The Pain in Being a Helper

Who is not in the business of impacting another’s life? From the cashier to the pizza delivery person. We all impact another’s life. Yet, those in the front line often experience what in the mental health field is called vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress, or secondary victimization. We will go with compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue  is characterized by the  some of the following symptom (not an inclusive list):

• Free floating anger and/or irritation, over-eating or under-eating,
difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep, dreaming about their clients/their clients’ trauma experiences, diminished joy toward things they once enjoyed, feeling trapped by their work, diminished feelings of satisfaction and personal accomplishment, feelings of hopelessness associated with their work/clients, blaming others, overwork, irritability,  exhaustion, staff conflict, blaming others, poor communication, withdrawal and isolation from colleagues, apathy, blaming others, lack of appreciation,  lack of interest and caring, worried about not doing enough.

The nature of job demands your all. Essential to the field is the ability and capacity of self care. Self care is often spoken about;yet, I often fail to see implemented. Three suggestions for self care. 1. Get a massage or some type of body word done. 2. Eat a healthy diet 3. Keep your perspective. The three points appears simple, however, the reality is that they are seldom practiced.
I encourage you reading to put into practice exercise that will keep your mind fresh and not bogged down. Share your load. You were not meant to carry the load alone. I recently saw Justice League interesting is that the team was not as effective without Superman. Find your superman and let him help you carry the load. You’re doing a great job; but, the load is getting heavy. Just as we want to see those we help grow strong we have to be the proverbial strong to be able to give. We cannot give from an empty vessel.

Se si pude, but why would you want by yourself. We are better together!

Carpe Diem

Emotional Baggage

These days with the airlines charging us for luggage we have become more selective in what we pack and how we pack. Interesting that we are not so selective on the emotional baggage which carries a greater personal cost. The baggage conceals itself wrapped with words of justification or behaviors that ushers in the past. When the worlds of past and present  collide manifestations of  disruptive behaviors, poor frustration tolerance, depression, anxiety, poor concentration, apathy, relationship problems, addictions, medical problems and other struggles in our future.

Trauma is a subjective horrific event either experienced or witnessed that appears to impair the individuals capacity to deal with the event. There are some “things” that happen to us that are not traumatic; yet, the events can have trauma like impacts. Either of these or both of these are what are often found in our emotional baggage.

At the airport the baggage is weighed.  I have seen where the baggage is too heavy and the traveler tries to lighten the load by taking things out and stuffing items into other bags.  Our emotional baggage gets heavy and we get triggered and act out  without knowing why we are reacting with intense emotions.

What helps lighten the baggage? Social support, Personal temperament, Survival orientation,  and of course therapy. I have met with many courageous clients with amazing triceps and somatic sensations and or physical aliments because they have been  carrying around their over stuffed bags.

It is uncomfortable when we start unpacking. In fact it is at times it feels overwhelming. Maybe it’s better carrying around the load? No. It is not.  The pain of discomfort is worth the process of unpacking with the end result  of living free from the past and living free to embrace the best life yet!

Carpe Diem

That Thing

What’s “That Thing” that gets in the way. “That Thing” in which your pride exudes with luster. “That thing” that you just don’t want to re-experience. Most likely it has to do with people. What I have observed most often it is that in them which reflects back as insecurity or judgement.

I was speaking to a individual , let’s call him Edwardo, who at least in his eyes is  accomplished. I certainly would not challenge Edwardo on that subjective aspect.  Edwardo feels a sense of pride that he has become all this and more on his own merit. Possibly. His family is distant both geographically and emotionally. The distance I understood as mutual.

Edwardo speaks of his family as dysfunctional and with disdain. My question is who would Edwardo be without his family? Having a family without our consent creates emotional ties and patterns that influences one another’s behavior. Family systems pioneers such as Dr. Murray Bowen, Salvador Minuchin, Jay Haley, Milton Erickson and or Cloe Madanes,  would have their perspectives on the dysfunctional family interlocking dynamics.  I sum them up humbly in saying, our family influences our character.

We don’t want to give family members that credit, I understand. I have a few cutoffs in my family with triangles being form to create a bands of unity. I have read quotes that families are blessings, how important they are, how family is a unique gift. Let me tell you, not all family are blessings or gifts. Some are cruel and heartless. In that hardness one finds tenacity and creates resiliency.  Would we go up to those in our family that have hurt us and say; “Thanks your lack of love or the pain you caused in my life made me this person I am today.”

Who would Edwardo be without his family roots. Edwardo could not be who is is if not for his family with the good, the bad, and the ugly. I appreciate the quote by Steve Southerland that reads: I believe in process. I believe in four seasons. I believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming. I believe that there’s a growing season. And I think that you realize that in life, you grow. You get better.

Edwardo grew. I too have grown. I have grown in the way that although my childhood was filled with dysfunctional inclusive of  alcoholism,  sexually abused, emotional cutoffs, parentification and other not so great happenings I have chosen to grow and hold grudges. My parents were good enough parents despite the mayhem. My siblings, well let’s say we each had to protect ourselves – and that we did.

I do believe if forgiveness. If  possible forgive. Forgive not the actions; more so, forgive the person, they were trying to survive (however dysfunctional). That forgiveness does not have to mean placing yourself back in situations that were harmful before and have capacity to be harmful today. We are adults today with the capacity to choose to live beyond the memories of yesterday that we had stored behind the wall for protection.

What’s that thing that gets in the way? Oh, it’s me! It’s how I think that influencing how I feel that is impacting  my behavior and many times my health. I invite you to explore “that thing” and be free to live you best life yet.

Carpe Diem.