This week I was really lucky to record a podcast episode with one of the bravest guests we have had on the Animal Training Academy show so far! They bared all by sharing their personal story working as a dog training consultant and realising that they were suffering from compassion fatigue.
Recording this podcast was actually quite confronting for me.
Firstly, this person shared the idea of compassion fatigue being a spectrum and that we likely all experience some of the related feelings and behaviours involved – but to different degrees.
Secondly an activity, involving breaking down into percentages how much time and emotion we put into the different things/aspects in our life’s was discussed. The guest shared that doing this activity was quite shocking for them as it made them realise how much emotional energy was spent on their own clients and dogs!
As a result of spending so much time and energy on our own & our client’s animals’ – other aspects of our lives – like, partners, family and friends have the risk of being attended to with very little to no emotional reserves.
It scares me to think that I feel I give about 70-80% to Animal Training, behavior and my business… After this what valuable energy might I have left for my wife, my family, my friends and for my own health and wellbeing?
Whilst recording this episode I was also reminded of my episode with Jean Donaldson who talked about burnout. One of the things Jean suggested was that we need a hobby away from what we do!
This idea was highlighted for me when I was in Australia for a four-day animal training conference recently which had over 200 delegates attending. I had a lot of people come and tell me how much they love Animal Training Academy! Which was really nice. Additionally, and on more than one occasion I was asked what hobbies I had outside of Animal Training. The scary thing is I didn’t know what to say!
I’ve realised my focus might be labeled as maladjusted! So I’ve taken action!
Firstly, I spoke to my wife about this in what was quite an emotional conversation! Then together we identified 5 areas I could focus on in my life that have nothing to do with animal training and/or ATA! … And each week I am going to set goals in these areas that I will email to my wife so that she can hold me accountable!
Here are the 5 areas
4.Fitness and health
I’m writing this to be open and possibly encourage others to be open about it as well. Because left undiscussed compassion fatigue and burnout can lead to depression and other mental health challenges!
What’s your experience here? I want you to know you’re not alone and we’re here for you if you want to talk! You can comment below… And please make sure to reach out to your local R+ Community!
Thanks for taking the time to read!
Animal Training Academy
P.S Here is the episode with Jean Donaldson where she talks about burn out (listen at 29:38) >>> http://bit.ly/Jean_Donaldson
P.P.S Last year I was super lucky to connect with Dr. Vanessa Rohlf to talk specifically about Compassion Fatigue, grief and other challenges as they relate to our industry. Listen to this episode here >>> http://bit.ly/ATA-Vanessa-Rohlf
P.P.P.S See another post about compassion fatigue on ATA members Kelli Inglis’s blog here >>> bit.ly/Kelli_Blog