I don’t know if it happens to you, but toward the end of every year as we enter giving season, my mailbox is flooded with requests for help. Then in wet and cold winters like this one, I become more acutely aware of how terrible it must be out in the wet and the cold with no shelter.
In the other direction there are parties to attend and festive occasions to enjoy. I am numb from all the stimuli both good and bad. Somehow I need to set some priorities if I am going to keep my sanity.
Now the problem is setting priorities. At the risk of sounding very selfish, I have to be my own priority. A farmer that gives away all the harvest has no means to stay alive and no seed for the next harvest. Sometimes a heroic act of generosity turns out to be foolish in the long run. So, maintaining my own strength and ability to function is part of priority one.
With taking care of myself physically, I need to also take care of myself spiritually. I need to exorcise my demons and keep new ones from forming within me. If I am to be whole and well, I need to be aware of my own ambitions and dreads, my brokenness and my strengths – all of who I am. I recognize that I can be vulnerable and forceful at the same time.
When my self is centered, as opposed to being self-centered, the focus is outward. I can then give my energy to the world. I can work toward the betterment of this planet and the people on it in a sustainable manner only if I have taken care of myself first.
Happy New Year! Take care of yourself all year long and you won’t worry about compassion fatigue or grow weary of doing good.