Why we get compassion fatigue— and what to do about it [podcast]
Can the suffering of others make us sick, what are the symptoms, and what can be done about it? That’s what GP turned executive coach Rachel Morris and I talked about for this new episode of her podcast You Are Not A Frog: What we are talking about when we talk about compassion fatigue. You can listen on Apple podcasts, Spotify and here.
People working in the helping professions, global and environmental change all have something in common: The emotional relentlessness of a job that involves constantly being faced with humans, animals or a planet in distress. Our ability to empathise with other beings is a double-edged sword. Equipped with mirror neurons, and as the most social of mammals, we humans do not only possess an extensive ability to care, but this very trait also makes us susceptible to emotional contagion: The stresses and trauma of others can easily become our own. And while our nervous system is well designed to protect us from the occasional bit of so-called empathic distress, when it becomes overwhelmed, we shut down and experience a range of symptoms which can look a lot like ‘normal’ burn-out but originate from a different place. Overstretched over longer periods of time, we can lose our spark, our ability to care, and quality of life.
What are these symptoms, why do we get them, and what can be done about it? That’s what GP and coach Rachel Morris and I talk about in this episode of the podcast You Are Not A Frog: What we are talking about when we talk about compassion fatigue.
About You Are Not A Frog: Because we are not frogs, we have choices other than getting boiled alive or jumping out of the pot (/our jobs). Rachel Morris worked as a GP for many years and knows what it’s like to feel like an exhausted frog. In her podcast, she talks to friends, colleagues and experts about what it takes to help people in high-stakes, high-stress jobs not just survive but also thrive. You don’t need to be a doctor: If your work/life involve confronting the distress of people, animals and planet, this is for you.