HEAL EMPATHETIC DISTRESS
Posted: June 7th 2021
I learned about differentiation many years ago from one of my spiritual teachers.
After several sessions of talking in circles about the distress I was feeling over my husband’s depression, she told me we were “enmeshed.”
Before I go on I want to mention that this insight doesn’t mean we stay quiet or try to “accept” our partner if they aren’t doing their part to stay healthy.
We can share our feelings and needs without idiot compassion. Idiot compassion (the near enemy of true compassion in Buddhist teachings) is operating when we feel like the other can’t handle the truth. We bite our tongue and try to get our needs met by giving unasked for advice and bending over backwards to help the other feel good so we can feel good.
When we get focused on fixing someone it’s likely an indication we have made the other person’s pain our own.
The familiar habit of taking on other’s feelings would wear me out and I’d need to withdraw to find relief. I’d be chronically cranky, feeling like I had to do “all the work” myself.
I’m sharing this with you because burnout among women is at an all time high as we nurse our way out of this pandemic. Staying at home inside of toxic family dynamics or the day in and day out stress of work have many folks feeling depleted. Some are even calling it quits.
So what do we do?
First we need to differentiate so we have a solid sense of what our experience is apart from those that we care about. Then we can do heart practices that shore up on compassion and equanimity.
You may have heard of compassion fatigue. But this isn’t accurate.
It’s actually undifferentiated empathy that depletes dopamine and makes us more self preoccupied.
Compassion doesn’t fatigue. Compassion generates positive emotions and altruism.
We can keep our empathy and still love our life and the people in it.
Let’s practice together. Watch Carina's Dharma Talk & Meditation on <Healing Empathetic Distress> OR Click Here to see Carina's Current LIVE Offerings.
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