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Thread: empathetic people,

  1. #11
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    Like others, it took me a while as an adult to know how to set boundaries. I am empathetic by nature but at the same time I'm a practical person, so if someone is suffering due to their own continued bad choices then my empathy drops to nil.

    I have also wondered how those in the helping professions manage to do it year after year. I remember reading an article once about a priest on sabbatical whose only request was that no one ask him for anything. Made me realize how draining their daily life must be.

  2. #12
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    Iíve been a nurse for 21 years, the last 18 of those in psychiatry.

    I manage by never volunteering, never going to church, etc. When Iím working Iím giving of myself. When Iím off work itís all about me and my family and a few close friends who are not draining. I find my grandkids invigorating and entertaining, but I even limit my time with them once in a while if work has been intense.

    If you only saw me during off work hours you might think Iím selfish, but if you saw during work youíd think I was a saint.

  3. #13
    Senior Member Simplemind's Avatar
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    I consider myself very empathetic which is why I do what I do. People often wonder how I do it (often the ones who I am helping in the moment) and say they could never do it themselves. The best way I can explain it is that although a situation is tragic, it isn't MY tragedy. I am there to do a job and indulging my feelings would diminish my ability to be there for others. When somebody is in shock and feels like they are going crazy the last thing they need to see is me appearing emotionally out of control as well. I won't say there aren't nights that I don't pour a glass of wine the minute the shift is over. I had one last year that after driving a mile I needed to pull over and pray for the family I just left and I have NEVER felt compelled to do that. I am debriefed within 24 hours and honestly, after a few days they completely leave my mind with few exceptions. It is the scenes where something beautiful counterbalanced the situation that stick with me. I have left some where I feel that I was touched by grace and left with more that I came with. Those are the calls that make me weep and keep me coming back. We have a huge amount of turn over because it can be overwhelming if you can't separate yourself.

  4. #14
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tammy View Post
    Iíve been a nurse for 21 years, the last 18 of those in psychiatry.

    I manage by never volunteering, never going to church, etc. When Iím working Iím giving of myself. When Iím off work itís all about me and my family and a few close friends who are not draining. I find my grandkids invigorating and entertaining, but I even limit my time with them once in a while if work has been intense.

    If you only saw me during off work hours you might think Iím selfish, but if you saw during work youíd think I was a saint.
    Great way to put it, and I so appreciate the work that you and simplemind and others like you do. I've done a lot of interviews with oncologists, and I've concluded that working so closely to the marrow of life and death is a true calling. It must have its own rewards for you. I'm a "flight" person on the fight or flight spectrum, so I can only look at you guys in awe for what you give yourself to.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

  5. #15
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    My husband was a pastor for the first 20 years of our marriage. Iíve been a nurse since about year 17 of our marriage - so only a few years of overlap.

    I donít think I could be a pastors wife and a nurse simultaneously without losing my mind.

    Even though Iím mostly agnostic now, I think of my work as I did my church stuff. Mission focused. Thatís probably how I survive.

  6. #16
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    I balance out my work by not donating to anything but my buddhist teachers. I care about everything but i am not covering basic human needs by donations.

    And i watch and read fiction with lots of murders and dystopian futures

  7. #17
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    I can’t be convinced that latent empathy is not the result of a genetic predisposition. False empathy presents itself as the result of a social construct and masquerades as caring. In truth, for me, it is mostly self serving. This might seem like a crude view but after much soul searching, I can’t explain why I could look upon an obviously dead monarch butterfly along a rails to trails path with empathy in the afternoon and in the morning view the obituary of someone who died a violent death with impassivity.

  8. #18
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    Yes, Iím an empath. I can become physically ill in situations where somebody near me is sick or in emotional turmoil. Iíve often been asked if Iím a mind reader. Over the years, Iíve taught myself to, as it were, put up a force field around myself. I maintain emotional distance between me and my colleagues, and even me and my friends and family. Itís like turning down the sound on the radio. It does take a lot of psychic energy, so I get very tired in social situations. I dread and avoid crowded places.

    Just as important, Iíve learned not to emit. Empaths can be a source of great distress to others if we donít insulate ourselves. We not only pick up other peopleís emotions - we may very well amplify them. What we pick up as a whisper we may emit as a nerve-shredding shriek. We have to take care of ourselves to avoid constant anxiety and burnout - and be very careful of others.

    I need and love alone time.

  9. #19
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    I worry that I am not good enough at shielding and stopping my output. I can see that people sometimes just react to me, and then it goes badly. I work at my meditation for that reason.

    I guess that is the random guilt, but I also see that I can help. I sense sometimes that people get frustrated because i hold back and they think I can do more.

    In any case not a good weekend

  10. #20
    Moderator Float On's Avatar
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    I'm in the empathy camp as well but have learned to put a shell around it. I deal a lot with benevolence cases and most of the people seeking assistance really key in on that and can take advantage of someone who expresses empathy. I've learned to deflect and take back control of the conversation and to wrap it up. If I don't continually redirect and get back on track in the conversation I could find myself in an hour or longer conversation where they continually try to get more out of me.
    Float On: My "Happy Place" is on my little kayak in the coves of Table Rock Lake.

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