Burnout from Trauma Work
Do you ever get burned out from working with other people's trauma? How do you deal with it?
Cleaning up other people's trash
Today I picked up trash at my spot on the river for the first time in a while.
Hang with me, this is about burnout. I promise.
I saw a bag stuck in a tree and thought "That view would be so much sweeter without that bag." So I waded across the river, grabbed the bag and sure enough noticed 2 or 3 other pieces of trash. It was such a gorgeous day and the seagrass in that particular spot was so sweet and perfect. And the water felt so cool as I was fishing a few more bottles out of the way. I got a little lost in it. I forgot the time. It was actually a bit like berry picking, one of my favorite things to do.
It's a fairly normal thing for me to bring a trash bag with me on hikes. I like to clean up the beautiful wild places I visit but, when I started teaching Trauma Integration with Mindlight, I stopped picking up trash. I noticed that I felt resentful and judgmental of everyone who littered and I couldn't stop seeing the trash. I'd pick up one piece and all I could see was the next and the next. I would miss the beauty of where I was and leave feeling depleted. When I teach Trauma Integration my students are sorting through all of their worst memories sometimes dealing with things that they have never faced before. Just inviting them to do this and holding this space means I am involved in the processing of their trauma. I haven't taught Trauma Integration in 9 months. And I can tell you very clearly, that I am only available for so much processing of other people's trash.
It's not that it drains me inherently. It's that it drains me if I'm drained. It is heavy if I'm already carrying around my own trash bags.
Yes. I do sometimes get burned out.
But it isn't from other people's problems it is from my own.
When I have a client in front of me, the portal opens. The client's needs create a suction pulling information, energy, wisdom, and compassion from God through my body to them. I feel the heavenly hosts of support that are so thrilled to provide love show up, their team, my team, and all the angels, fairies, aliens, and ancestors that are invested in our thriving. It's like being the disco ball at the best party in the Universe.
I don't ever feel burned out from that.
When that portal opens and the flood of information comes and the client starts to draw from me, sometimes my channel is janky. I can set things aside for a session. I can open myself up beyond what my personal capacity is because of the incredible energy present in the client + heavenly host dynamic but its sort of like holding the walls of the channel open from inside the channel. That takes a lot of energy. It takes a lot of energy to keep my stuff at bay and out of the channel if my internal space isn't organized.
I'm living a modern American woman's life. I have kids and bills and relationships. I run a household with other people and a business with other people and I occasionally have to go to DPS. All that means I am not always session-ready. When I am not session-ready and I give sessions anyway I get burned out.
How I deal with burnout.
First and foremost setting up a life that you like, one that you are sweet on is anti-burnout. If you can say thank you all day and mean it. If you have fun and love and beauty and freedom you are less likely. to have burnout. This is really important. Have things on your calendar that are there just because they light you up, fill you up, are fun and life-affirming. When you have the inside scoop on the brutality of life, it is easy to feel like the world is in need of fixing and you can't rest until you've done it. That is just a bad dream. Build a life that puts beauty front and center, where it belongs.
I do my best to live my life session-ready so I'm not scrambling 5 minutes before a call to clear my channels. Instead, I have ongoing practices to keep myself centered. I practice what I preach so the well I am drawing from is full. If the only time I lit the candles and opened my heart to the immense guidance available was with clients, I would probably start to resent my clients for taking up all my air time with spirit. But if I am in prayer all the time or most of the time, then I am sharing something I actually have with my clients.
Self-care is critical and isn't about mani-pedis it's about life being well-functioning and fulfilling. If my relationship with my coperent is out of whack then that is going to get addressed not just for its own sake but for the sake of my work and my clients. If I'm out of integrity with my finances, same. There are some selfcare basics that just don't ever go out of style that help with burnout.
Sleep ( at night and naps too)
Move your body
Eat your veggies
Do work that works. If you are doing trauma work and your clients aren't seeing rapid and consistent results. That is going to drain you no matter how many gallons of water you drank today. It will drain them too.
Service work has its own math.
Sometimes we don't feel we have the capacity to offer anything. I don't think that this is a useful inquiry. Really we have way more capacity for service than we realize. That question "do I have the capacity to help?" It has you tally your own lack and might have you walk away from a moment where you really can be of service or martyr yourself to help when you really don't want to. Nobody needs a martyr.
The better question is do I have the capacity to enjoy this?
If I have the capacity to enjoy picking up trash on the river, I enjoy it more than just swimming. If I have the capacity to enjoy helping someone with their trauma I enjoy it more than connecting on some other subject.