Caring for Ourselves, Caring for Our World, Part II: Are you an Animal Empath?

In Michael Stone’s lecture on caring for the caregivers and burnout, he presents some unique perspectives that help deepen our interconnectedness with compassion and loving kindness. His discussions on burnout and compassion fatigue relate directly to animal lovers. I see this happen regularly when animal lovers want to work with animals and help rescue them succumb quite quickly to emotional exhaustion and empathy fatigue. 

Dr. Judith Orloff, a psychiatrist asks in one article “Are you an empath?”. Dr. Orloff asks “Have you ever been labeled as overly sensitive? Do you absorb the emotions of others?” She then states: “There is a good chance you’re an emotional empath. Empaths are highly sensitive, finely tuned instruments when it comes to emotions. They feel everything, sometimes to an extreme, and are less apt to intellectualize feelings. Their sensitivity is the filter through which they experience life. Empaths are naturally giving, spiritually attuned and good listeners. If you want heart, empaths have got it. Through thick and thin, they’re there for you — world-class nurturers”. In her article she offers a quiz on whether or not you are an empath and what you can do to honor your strengths, yet balance your emotions and response. Are you an animal empath?

Let me know what you think.  After reading that article, I recognized that myself and perhaps many others might relate to the label “animal empath”. I wonder how many animal lovers are actually “animal empaths”? I found her suggestions quite beneficial.  One friend of mine, a world renowned psychotherapist, Vera Paisner is actually developing a study on compassion fatigue in animal shelter workers. She is conducting this through the Kerulos Center (www.Keruloscenter.org).  It seems sometimes that the world in general is at a point of compassion fatigue. There are so much pain and suffering in the world and so many emergencies that sometimes, one can easily fall into despair, compassion fatigue, exhaustion over the sheer amount of it all. 

We need to be aware of it all, yet, not let it bring you down. When Mother Theresa was once asked how she could work everyday with the dying lepers knowing that they would be dead soon, she stated “Give 100% effort with 0% attachment to outcome. That is it. That is where unconditional love comes in. In that moment, sharing love with that one being, is enough to just allow that being to feel unconditional love. That is being in the moment and knowing you are helping that one being. If you relate to the label “animal empath”, then read and listen to Dr. Orloff’s video and begin to take better careAs we all do our best to do that as part of our daily practice, the planet is filled with more love and that is good! Go forth and do good!

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