Compassion Fatigue

How Much Can You Hold? Our Finite Capacity in the Face of Infinite Need


It's ok to not be ok. It's ok to take a break. A life of service, paid or unpaid, is a life-long marathon where the end goal is to finish the race with our hearts wide-open, sweat in the game, and hope on the horizon.


We can simultaneously hope for and work towards a better future while realizing the collective change we strive for may not be achieved in our lifetime. It is possible to actively contribute to change in the world and care for ourselves and our loved ones. We can choose to speak up and take time for silence. We can work hard and rest completely. What we can't do is - live solely on one side of the paradigm as both sides are needed. 


We live in a world where human need is infinite - more than any one person, organization, or country can heal. At the same time, our individual human capacity is finite. This is the crux. Given our human dilemma, it’s imperative to make conscious choices about how to replenish and distribute our personal and emotional resources so that we are fully present both in action and rest. 


Each individual has physical strength limits. We know that a person can lift 30, 50 or 100 pounds on a regular basis with the right support, but it’d be unrealistic to lift limitless amounts of weight all the time. Using this analogy, you can begin to understand that people also have emotional limits in regards to the amount of suffering one person can bear witness to and service in a given time frame. Each human has a limit to the amount of traumatic material they can process while still maintaining their health and well-being. It's ok to not be ok. You may have reached your limit for now. 


How much can you hold?
How much can you hold right now?
How much can you hold today?
How much can you hold this week?
How much can you hold this year?
How much can you hold in your life? 


Your answer is valid.
Respect it.
Set boundaries around it.
Take steps to honor it. 


Exhausted, irritable, pessimistic, cranky and not who you know yourself to be as a result of serving? You could be living in a trauma triggered state that tells you it's "never enough", you "can't stop," "no one else can do it" but you. If this sounds like you - reach out for Compassion Fatigue support.

The truth is, the need will always exist until the end of time and there are millions of people taking action to help during the exact moment you are getting a solid nights sleep, so rest dear one, tomorrow is another day. Your life and health matter too. 

© 2018 Forest Hughes & Associates ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
*Article originally published on March 8th, 2018 coining term and concept "hierarchy of pain."
All reproduction and distribution of material without consent will be pursued to the fullest extent of the law. You may not copy, alter, modify, enhance or use excerpts or concepts from this material or as it is the intellectual property of Forest Hughes & Associates LLC.