Tag Archives: caring

Showing Compassion To Strangers

Many of us who have been abused in some way have learned that other people, even strangers, like talking to us.  I’ve had people in the grocery store or laundromat strike up a conversation & tell me their entire life stories.  (One lady caught me twice in two different stores about six months apart- she apparently didn’t remember me from the first time)  It’s strange to say the least, but I think it’s because some people are so desperate for some compassion, they’ll try to find it in a stranger.

 

Since many of you are also introverts like me, I know this can be uncomfortable.  You probably want to just duck into a place, do what you came to do & leave quickly with minimal human interaction.  (I even use the self-checkout lanes to eliminate interaction with one more person.)   When a person decides to chit-chat, it can be annoying, especially if you’re in a rush.

 

I have begun to think a bit differently about this “annoyance.”  I believe when this sort of thing happens, it is God putting you in a place to be a blessing to someone.  Just listening to someone talk for a little while may make their day better or lighten the burden of the problem they discussed with you.  Why not let the person talk for a while?

 

One evening recently, I saw my parents.  I wasn’t in a good mood after leaving them.  On the way home, I went by the post office to mail something out after hours yesterday using the machine in the lobby rather than dealing with people during regular business hours.  A lady came in & dropped off a package while I was at the machine.  Out of the blue, she told me about her day at work, which sounded very frustrating.  The conversation lasted maybe five minutes, but it seemed to help her mood a bit.  It also helped mine some because I had a distraction from my own situation for a few minutes.  It was a small one, but I think a blessing for both her & I.  And, as I’m writing, I also remembered to pray for her- I may not know her needs, but God does.

 

The next time you are in that somewhat awkward position of listening to a stranger, then why not just go with it for a while?  You may be helping that person more than you know.  You might even help yourself.

 

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health

Compassion Fatigue- A Common Problem

Many adult children of narcissistic parents grow into very compassionate, empathetic adults.  We listen to others & offer support, even when strangers approach us in a grocery store & want to tell us their problems.  We help generously.  We’re often caregivers in many ways- taking care of the sick as well as providing emotional or even financial support to those in need.  And, truthfully, we often enjoy it.

Whether you enjoy caregiving or not, though, sometimes it burns you out.

It’s like a bank account- you can’t withdraw money without ever putting in a deposit or you will overdraft your account. The exact same thing happens with your mental health- if you do nothing but give, there is nothing left over for you.  You become tired, mentally & physically.  You also become very irritable & bottle up your emotions.  You may abuse substances or overeat.  You isolate yourself because you feel you don’t have the energy or patience to deal with people.  You become indifferent to their suffering.  You have plenty of aches & pains without a physical cause & you have difficulty concentrating on things.  Some people stop their good self-care habits, even hygienic habits.

This is a frustrating place to be!  I’ve felt some degree of compassion fatigue for years, but it has reached a peak during my recent recovery.  When all you can do is lay around & do very minimal tasks, it gives you plenty of time to think.  I realized how very few people close to me genuinely cared about the fact I came very close to death recently.  Very few have even asked how I’m doing more than once.  Aside from the obvious anger about this, it hurt me badly.  I have done my best to be there for those in my life as much as possible, & this is how I’m treated after trauma?  This seemed to rocket the compassion fatigue into overdrive.  As I write this, there aren’t many people I’m close to that I can muster up some empathy for at this time.

So.. how does one combat compassion fatigue?  Honestly I had to research it because I’ve never found a way to do it on my own.  The suggestions I’ve found are below along with some things I’ve been trying to do myself.

  • Sometimes people won’t be there for you, but God will be.  Give Him first priority in your life, & go to Him when you need comfort before you go to people.
  • Don’t judge yourself for how you feel.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Practice good self-care rituals.
  • Set & enforce good boundaries to give yourself a break as you need.
  • Remember, when people come to you for help, you should do your best to point them back to God as much as possible, & not become a god to them by fixing their problems.
  • Talk with others who understand how you feel.
  • Participate in your hobbies often, or start new ones.

I hope this helps you to combat compassion fatigue & to achieve a healthier balance with helping other people.  May God bless you!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

Extreme, Out Of Balance Thinking

I noticed an unsettling trend today in things I was reading: extreme thinking with no balance.  For example, one thing I read said we need to feel compassion for narcissistic people because they are so wounded.  Yet, other things say we need to offer them no pity- just cut them out of our lives the moment we see even one narcissistic trait.

 

Neither solution is good, in my opinion.   If you have only compassion for a narcissist, she will play on  that, & use & hurt you constantly because you give no consequences for these actions.  However, if you quickly deduce someone is a narcissist & cut them out of your life, that isn’t necessarily the right solution either.  What if you judged this person wrong & they were only having a really bad day?  Or, what if God has plans to use you to change that person?  Some narcissists who are low on the spectrum can change, after all- maybe God wants to use you to change her heart somehow.  In either case, you could be making a mistake by eliminating this person from your life too quickly.

 

I believe in order to be a mentally healthy person with an empathetic heart, you need to be  balanced & avoid such extreme thinking.  To understand that yes, someone who has abused or bullied you was deeply wounded, which is why he or she did those awful things to you, yet also understand that does not give this person a free pass to abuse.

 

Many victims of abuse in particular seem to think this way, without balance.  Most commonly, I think, feel compassion & pity for their abuser or make excuses for the behavior.  Often, they even accept the blame for the abuse.  How many wives whose husbands beat them have you heard say, “It wasn’t his fault!  He was drunk/If only I had done what he asked, he wouldn’t have done this!”?  They don’t realize that while yes, it was terrible what happened to their abuser, that doesn’t give him or her the right to abuse anyone!

 

 

This extreme thinking & balance also fits judging the situations other people are in.  How many people have very definite opinions on something so controversial as medical marijuana?  Many people think it’s horrible- there is no excuse to use it!  Others claim it is extremely helpful in alieviating pain when nothing else does.  There don’t appear to be many people with more balanced thinking such as, “I’ve never tried it, & I doubt I ever would, however I understand that person is in such pain constantly, that he is desperate enough to want to try it.”

 

If you tend to think more extreme, then I would like to encourage you today to try to open your mind a bit more.  Try to see things from other people’s perspectives.  Imagine yourself in that person’s position.  Ask God to give you a more caring, compassionate heart & perspective.  Out of balance, extreme type thinking isn’t beneficial for anyone, but understanding, compassionate thinking will benefit everyone.

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health