Compassion: finding a balance
Compassion is a value that makes us all capable of humanity and sensitivity.
Compassion is one of the key elements that drives the caregiver. It gives meaning to their interaction with the person they are caring for, for whom they generally feel empathy, benevolence or patience.
In the long run, compassion for their charge may result in psychological, emotional and physical imbalances and burnout. Faced with their role, they gradually lose themselves in a labyrinth; over time, they may neglect themselves and risk burnout.
Caregivers are often unaware of the role of compassion on their own condition. They feel that they are not doing well but have difficulty identifying the causes, especially since many factors can be involved:
Many caregivers feel powerless. One difficulty they face is accepting the current situation as it is. They often put a lot of energy into trying to control the future or dealing with the losses related to the condition or illness of the person they are caring for, even though there is not always a solution. Focusing on the things we can do helps prevent this feeling of helplessness.
Similarly, investing oneself without considering the consequences could trigger the resurfacing of a difficult past. Personal balance is even more fragile depending on the nature of the current or previous relationship with the person being cared for.
How can you avoid being overwhelmed by compassion? How can you adjust your values to the reality of the life you want? How do you deal with the suffering of the person you are caring for without bearing it yourself? Is there anything you can do to change?
Listening to yourself
This is the paradox of the caregiver: in order to be attentive to the person you are caring for, you have to be attentive to yourself. This may seem difficult because every minute is precious.
Listening to yourself means:
- Developing an awareness of our own feelings;
- In daily life, growing and maintaining clarity in relation to how we feel;
- Listening to the signals that our body and mind send us;
- Being on the lookout for imbalances that may arise;
- Identifying and stimulating the things that make us feel good.
Eight tips for maintaining compassion
- Get to know yourself: this means being attentive and sensitive to your own needs;
- Learn to spot the signs that you are doing well, or not so well;
- Recognize the signals that indicate changes in how you are performing;
- Continually evaluating yourself. Your needs and limitations may change over time. Open yourself to the idea of readjusting, if necessary, readjust your level of commitment to the person being cared for;
- Focus on decoding yourself, deciphering, feeling and recognizing what is going on inside you;
- Focus on what is happening in the present moment;
- For today, do the best you can. That will already be a lot;
- Do small things every day to maintain your balance and health. For example, you can take a nap, go for a walk in a favourite place or drink a hot coffee or your favourite beverage.
If it doesn’t feel natural, prioritizing your own needs helps you maintain your own balance and also gives you the energy to support the person you are caring for.