What to Do if You Struggle with Empathic Distress

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Every person has the capacity to do kind things for others. It can lead to feeling more confident and self assured but may also lead to being taken advantage of and getting hurt. Empathic distress comes from doing too much of a good thing. Find some tips and tools to help you cope if you struggle with empathic distress.

Balancing Act

The capacity for being altruistic may be reflexive and reactive such as responding to someone who is begging for money on the street. Long-term, we can build our capacity for caring about others in need including close family members or friends. Altruism is a selfless act, it is part of our humanity. Despite the goodness of it, too much of a good thing can lead to empathic distress without balance. This requires:

  • Concentration
  • Awareness
  • Attention to intentions and motivations of self and others

To continue growing and finding balance requires finding a way to not give so much it causes self harm. Mindful altruism is the art of being aware of yourself and others while serving them, with healthy boundaries.

Serving Others

In recovery, it is always good to consider ways you can give back to others. It may be through sharing your story, experience, or just kind words of encouragement with others. In a larger capacity, we are sometimes called into caregiving relationships with family members who are struggling, particularly older parents, grandparents, or those in ailing health. Altruism does not mean to fix others, it is a support system that provides a pathway of autonomy for those in need. For those who cannot give anything back (perhaps a parent with dementia or mental health issues) it is a selfless giving because they are in need. Giving without expectation can be healing in itself.

When you give back to others, it also serves the higher purpose of supporting your journey to recovery. You can grow more confident and self assured as you continue finding ways to give back to those in need. The first priority in recovery is yourself but at some point you will want to reach out and share with others so that you can grow in knowing you did a kind thing and lifted someone up in their time of need.

Sound Recovery helps you get present in the moment with our programs, services and resources. We are here to guide you through the steps to recovery. If you are struggling with addiction, let us help. Call us at 561-277-3088 to get started.

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