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Self-Care & Self-Compassion

When we humans are exposed to the suffering of other human beings, there is a toll on us individually, to our immediate relationships, and even organizationally…

The effects of doing crisis work- being involved in children’s lives when they are acting out their own distress- has an effect on our body also.  We work with students who, at times, verbally and/or physically communicate their own pain. This communication can look like yelling, cussing, crying, walking out, a tantrum, or a thousand other things.  And, as we become available for their support, we absorb and feel our own feelings about the situation or crisis at hand.  One outcome of being a champion to someone else in pain is a sense of satisfaction and pride in the situation and our work.   Also, there is possibly undesirable feelings after a crisis, these may be sadness, hurt, disappointment, devastation, frustration, or anger- to name a few. If this energy is not released in some way it may contribute to our own outlook on either ends of the spectrum- being overwhelmed by our job or being apathetic to it. The accumulative effect of a buildup of supporting these events and their negative outcomes is called compassion fatigue or secondary trauma.   Some ways to notice if you are being negatively affected by this exposure to is:

  • The feeling that you are not doing enough, and continually feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the work
  • Hypervigilance or hyperarousal to your surroundings, and a feeling of being on guard or on edge
  • Exhaustion in your spirit, either physically or mentally
  • Avoidance at work or personal life
  • Cynicism
  • Internalizing your feelings of pain with physical symptoms, or externalizing the feelings negatively in your personal life (a carryover effect)

As we have all gotten into this work to make an impact, we want to remain in this work to make an impact- being here for the long haul.  This takes an intentional effort.  If you have gotten this far in reading, I will let you in on my secret- it is difficult for me to have balance, and I am one the worst to write advice. I hear the internal voice that, at times, is saying- keep going, or suck it up.

 So, I am letting you know- we are working on this together.

Some ideas to consider:

Recognition is a first step.  Recognizing when the moment has gotten the best of us, or the accumulative effect of moments may be restricting your outlook on our job, or a new idea, or growth feedback.

Remembering there is equal amounts of beauty and pain; and finding beauty within a learning experience or within a child can give a different perspective in our involvement.

Take care of ourselves as if we are taking care of another- be patient, be kind, honor, and forgive ourselves when needed.

Find trusted colleagues that we can debrief with- a person we are able to talk together honestly, and vulnerable enough to hear feedback from to grow in our work.

Understanding that when we are involved in others suffering there is more to it than just trying to hold it all together, letting go of our emotions in a healthy way is necessary.

Balance.  Let go of work for the day, so our system is ready for the next day.  Changing out of work clothing is a symbolic way.

This work is not for the faint at heart- it is unsuitable for people who like only safe and familiar things. And, our work is where great passion brews, and compassion is built. Although, if we numb out sorrow, we also we also numb and dull happiness.

How are you creating self-care?












~ Kela Lynn, LSCI Trainer



Brune Brown on vulnerability and connection:  https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability

Short videos to feed happiness (the dancing videos make me smile):  http://ellentube.com/


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