How to Stop Hating Your Loved Ones & Overcome Compassion Fatigue

Photo: Jude Beck @ Unsplash

This is a high-pressure time and during periods of stress it’s very easy for even the kindest person to start hating and resenting their loved ones. When you’re under a lot of stress, compassion fatigue sets in and it can be hard to have empathy and compassion for those around you including your loved ones.

Compassion fatigue can be defined as a state where your usual level of empathy and compassion for people around you gets exhausted and either lowers or becomes non-existent. This usually happens as a response to stress due to being overwhelmed and/or exhausted.

When we are stressed and tired it makes it harder to have compassion for our loved ones as it takes effort to empathise with them and to stop ourselves from reacting to them. Tiredness and stress also make emotional control more difficult. Hating is easy as it takes no effort, whereas having empathy and being loving is hard at times.

Your loved ones are especially vulnerable to being a target for your compassion fatigue as they are the ones who you are around the most and who can get under your skin.

Nobody wants to start hating the people they love. That’s why I’m going to show you how to turn your compassion fatigue around and start loving your loved ones in the way you want again.

Boundary up

Compassion fatigue usually happens when you don’t have adequate boundaries with the people in your life. You’re working too hard, taking on too much emotional and physical strain, and/or not giving yourself the time you need to rest and to take care of yourself. You might also be letting family members get away with not doing their fair share of chores.

The key here is to say no to the non-essentials and to delegate.

For example your friends ask you to meet up and you tell them you’d have loved to but you’re exhausted and need time for yourself. You decide to give your kids a rota for chores and enforce it. The former gives you time to rest and the latter saves you time and energy so that you can look after yourself instead of taking on all the housework by yourself.

Learning to say no when you need to will change your life. When you take care of yourself you’ll be happier and have compassion with your loved ones a lot more often than if you say yes to everything and end up burnt out and hating everyone around you.

Remember their pain

It might seem odd at first to purposefully want to remind yourself of your loved one’s pain but it is a highly effective strategy to use to overcome compassion fatigue. Remembering your loved one’s pain is a great way to remind you of their value and how much they mean to you.

Seeing someone in pain humanises them, and by recalling your love one’s pain you get to remember that they are human and suffer too, that they are precious and everyone has only a set amount of time on this earth.

It brings you perspective around the things that truly matter in your life.

To really make this strategy work effectively it helps to recall a time when your loved one was in their greatest pain. Try to recall how you felt as you witnessed their pain, your sorrow, your fear, your wish for them to be well.

It helps to do this every time you can feel compassion fatigue rising and you feel like snapping at your loved ones. Instead of snapping use this technique and recall how much your loved one’s mean to you.

You’re on the same team

When you start hating your loved ones you forget that you are on the same team. Hating becomes a you vs. them situation where no one wins.

Seeing your loved ones as being on the same team as you can help you to look for solutions to the problems they are causing you, instead of attacking them for what they are doing.

You vs. them situations never help anyone especially when trying to overcome compassion fatigue. Othering people by making them out to be different to you won’t help. Your family are your team and when compassion fatigue strikes it’s going to take a team effort to come to a solution: Delegating chores, creating and maintaining family boundaries, and being there for each other in a more supportive way.

Who is it hurting?

Your first instinct might be to think that your anger is only hurting your loved one, but if look at your own emotions you’ll come to the conclusion that it’s hurting you too. There’s a saying that holding onto anger is like holding a piece of hot coal to throw at the person you’re angry with: You get hurt first.

When you feel angry towards your loved ones and lack empathy it helps to ask who it’s hurting. The answer will always be you and them. Reflecting on this can help you to reframe your thoughts and to realise that being loving is always the best solution: Being loving to yourself and your loved ones.

If you’ve reached a point of compassion fatigue it’s a sign that you’ve forgotten to be loving to yourself; you’ve forgotten to rest, to take time for you, you’ve forgotten to take care of you.

Loving yourself

The biggest weapon you have to overcome your compassion fatigue is loving yourself and taking care of your needs. People who are happy and who honour their own welfare don’t snap at others or get compassion fatigue. They take time for themselves to rest. They ask for help. They delegate chores and expect their family to each play a part in their family team. They love and care for themselves by not allowing people around them to burn them out.

The ultimate method you have to combat compassion fatigue is the way you treat yourself and the way you let others treat you. Take care of yourself and don’t let others drain you. Then you can take care of your loved ones well.

Relationship Researcher & Coach: Creating Healthy Relationships @ www.simonsamuels.com

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