Yes, we are hypocrites. I was talking to a fellow counselor about how stressed we both feel – how overwhelming life can be at times. Without thinking, I said, “you should see someone – you know, get some extra support.” Silence. She was dumbstruck. “I can’t do that – tell some stranger my problems and have that person think that I’m ‘crazy’ and can’t do my job!”
DID I MENTION THAT WE’RE COUNSELORS?
Is it too corny to say that counselors are people, too? Well, we are. And other helping professionals – clergy, coaches, doctors, nurses, psychiatrists – are people, too. I’ve not met one person who enjoys being vulnerable. On the flip side, I’ve met lots folks who are racing headlong into burnout because they choose not to practice what they preach.
Where is it written that people with the heart and gift for helping should never need support themselves? We come up with all kinds of fancy justifications for not practicing emotional and mental self-care. Well, I’m going to give you 3 reasons to get intentional about emotional and mental self-care.
1. Practice what you preach. How can you, in good conscience, advice people to do something that you won’t do?
2. Risk being vulnerable. Asking for help is difficult; talking to a stranger about your problems is difficult. Yet, your job and/or calling is predicated, at least in part, on people asking you for help! What better way to develop greater respect and empathy for the people you serve!
3. Burned out helpers do more harm than good. Unresolved wounds ooze and the pain transfers in insidious ways to the people you serve, e.g. impatience, pessimism, chronic lateness, ambivalence, etc.
Helping professionals need help and support too. Don't let your embarrassment cause you to be the very person that you encourage your clients NOT to be.
Until next time,
Be the person you encourage your clients to be.