Recently one of my clients shared that he may be feeling “burnt out”.

He asked if it is possible.  He has insomnia, a short temper, and irritability.  He is a father, a team leader and as a divorced person, manages his domestic chores alone.  That’s a lot of giving of self to others.  That is fatiguing.  Otherwise called “burnout”.

For the last 100+ days, you have been locked down in the most unnatural circumstances.  I imagine you too give to others, perhaps more than usual, and more intensely: children, extended families, friends, lovers, colleagues.  And, like my client, you may be feeling fresh out of love… and perhaps, like my client, feeling guilty that you no longer have desire nor ability for any more compassionate care to others. You say: “I’m burnt out”.

Actually, what is burning you out, is empathy, not compassion.  You have “empathy fatigue”, not “compassion fatigue”.  “Compassion” makes us feel close and warm and caring.  Empathy, unless regulated, causes us to burn out.  You are simply giving too much to others, which is causing you suffering.  And will in fact lead you to less caring for those around you as it feels too exhausting.

There is a difference between “empathy” and “compassion”.  They are two different phenomena.

EMPATHY:  Empathy is sharing emotions with someone. For example, you can have “empathic joy” when listening to someone’s joy, happiness, pleasure.  And conversely, you can have “empathic distress” when listening and observing their physical or mental pain.  Notice how this makes you feel.  Turns out that when exposed to too much “empathy” you have negative emotions and stress, you get swallowed up in their pain, your health begins to suffer, you withdraw and feel… burnout.

COMPASSION:  Compassion is rooted in care and affiliation, a strong motivation to want the other not suffer, a concern about the welfare of the other.  It is a strong motivation rooted in love and care. You feel warmth, concern, care for the other.  You want to improve this person’s wellbeing.  These feelings get you to take action, be present with the person without experiencing distress.


  1. Turn “empathy” into “compassion”.  The goal is to gain the capacity to feel positive emotions without feeling distressed. 
  2. In empathy, you feel with the other person, but you don’t confuse yourself with the other; you still know that the emotion you resonate with is the emotion of the other person.
  3. Mindfully notice if you take on the emotional pain of the other person as our own pain.  If you do, empathetic distress results.
  • Practice loving-kindness mindfulness daily.  This is part of your own daily self-care practice which includes journaling, exercise, preferably mat work or Qui Gong, nature walks, socially connecting with people in your tribe.
  • Daily connection with another person for 10 minutes.  This must be with a stranger or a person in your tribe.  It must be a different person each day.
  • Ask questions of each other that make you feel vulnerable.
  • For example, ask the person “rate your level of anxiety today”; “Talk about one part of you that feels vulnerable. It could be your parent/partner/sexual part”.
  • Just do empathic listening… sit with difficult feelings that may pop up for you and feel your own gratitude. 

Feel free to reach out to me via WhatsApp.  Anonymity is guaranteed.  Let me know where your anxieties, fears, and worries sit with you.  Tell me what is soothing for you.  And what you need in this time of radical uncertainty.

060 890 1062

Feel free to book a teletherapy Zoom session with me right here…

For more information please contact my PA Shantel:

Take care

Marlene #stayhome