The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

Don’t Succumb To Compassion Fatigue

On January 9th, 2012, posted in: Uncategorized by

Compassion is something we could all practice with a little more vigor.  I was thinking…Jesus was really, really, really good at compassion and, after that, we all sort of fall in line.  Some of us are compassionate at a really high level – grandmas and Mother Teresa come to mind, but what about the rest of us?

I was reading about a condition that strikes the nursing profession called “compassion fatigue.”  If one blends the purest of definitions for both words, you come to find out that one is “tired of feeling sympathy or sorrow for someone stricken by misfortune and has little desire to alleviate said suffering.”  Pretty heavy stuff, huh?  Unfortunately, this condition is much more far-reaching than just a nurse here or there.

In a world pre-occupied with all that’s wrong and a media that focuses on the worst of our behaviors, you can see how people develop their fatigue for caring.  It happens, but I would suggest to you that it is not a phenomenon owned by just a few smattered about in the health profession.  It takes place every day in far too many interactions among people.  Unfortunately, the lens with which many of us see the good in our fellow man starts clouding at a young age and deteriorates from there.  We become “numb” is the way one person put it.

It attacks people everywhere.  In fact, I think we are a society that leans far more toward egotistical than altruistic.  We’ve become so busy with the “it’s all about me disease,” that there are times that we forget that we are just one of the working parts that makes the sum of all of us a heck of a lot better – think compassion.

I’ll bet you if we could recapture the simplicity of the message “love your neighbor as yourself” or “treat people as you want to be treated,” things would start getting better really fast.  We make things too convoluted and too hard sometimes.  Just care!

Clean the slate.  Start every relationship or interaction with a crystal clear perspective.  True enough, the 20 previous people may have burdened you with discussions or circumstances that demanded that you kick your compassion gene into gear and, quite frankly, it may have worn you out.  But the next situation is so important, so raw, so personal to the person in front of you that it demands that your compassion be real.  Give it your best shot not to have fatigue involved.

If every person was genuinely compassionate to two people, and those two to two more, and those two to two more, and so on and so forth across the miles, the mountains, the lands, there would never again be war.  Maybe, just maybe.   

That’s how important compassion is. Don’t succumb to fatigue – stay strong!  It means a lot to someone – usually the person in front of you.

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