Overcoming my compassion fatigue

With everything going on right now in national politics and the world, there are a lot of things that I feel I ought to care about. I’m pretty sure you all know what I mean. With the presidential election coming up later this year and the things happening in the Middle East with Iran and the earthquake in Puerto Rico and the whole climate change issue, it’s becoming overwhelming to try to focus on what I actually should spend my time caring about. I have a lot of empathy and it causes me to be very concerned for people who are in need and in pain, but after a while, it’s just completely overwhelming and I start to shut down and back away because if I don’t, I will completely fall apart. I have to separate myself from it in order to maintain my sanity. There’s just TOO MUCH.

But I can’t just ignore it all or just decide not to care about any of it, either. I have to find a way to make it more manageable for me to address. If I keep on trying to figure out how to deal with all of these things, all at once, I’m never going to be able to make a difference about any of them.

The video below helps explain this a little bit. (Erica, you might not like it because it’s very Democratic and there is at least one swear word.) Specifically, starting at 3:35 minutes into the video, it starts talking about compassion fatigue.

So my plan for this year is to find a way to do one thing a month. Either volunteer somewhere or donate money to something or find a way to do something that helps address my concerns about the many, many things that are happening right now.

This month, I’m picking up trash. We went to the beach on Friday and we picked up trash on the beach. It was very windy and there wasn’t a lot to pick up, but we had a lovely time taking a walk. Yesterday, I picked up trash outside my house. I don’t know if it’s the grounds crew who cuts the grass or the regular maintenance guys who are supposed to do that, but they’re all very busy lately and the cigarette butts and trash around the place has gotten out of hand. So I went around my building and picked up what I could for a little while. And today I walked up the street where I do my regular walks and picked up trash that way, too. I mostly see this street in the dark and I knew there was a lot of trash. There was so much more that I could see during the daylight! It’s astonishing.

Picking up trash isn’t something that’s hard for me. It doesn’t require any money for me to do it (we already had the trash grabby thing and a trash bucket). It does require some time, but it’s time that I have available and time that I’m happy to put forward toward this effort. It requires my mobility, and my improved fitness certainly helped with this. And I certainly feel good about myself for having done this. I feel a little negative toward other people who are throwing all this trash all over the place. (Come on people! Pick up your trash!) But I still think I’ve managed to do a good thing. And that makes me feel better about myself and what I’m doing in my world.

I was out for about 2 hours and got 2 1/2 buckets full of trash. That first one (left) was going up the street where I walk and I had to turn back because it kept trying to fly out of the bucket. The top right was just outside my complex, the sidewalk beside the gas station. And the lower right was from the grass in the median of the street just outside my complex. Humanity as a whole, we are such trash goblins. So much garbage!

But you know what? I did something. It might not be much, but it was something and I can see the difference and I feel good about it! I can’t fix the whole world. But I can do something to make my corner of it a little brighter!

1 comment

  1. Haha! He’s letting go of plastic straws. Gotta pick your battles! (I giggle because Chloe just bought some reusable straws.)

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