“You’re just too sensitive!” It’s what I’ve heard my whole life, as if sensitivity was a bad thing. If you love, care for, or work with animals chances are you may have heard this as well. Sensitivity, in my humble opinion, is a wonderful personality trait and is actually highly valued in some cultures. But can our personality determine whether or not we’ll end up with compassion fatigue?
In addition to a genuine love of animals, research suggests that those in the helping professions have high levels of empathy and compassion. The ability to identify so strongly with the suffering of animals is often what leads us down this career path, but also causes us to put the needs of others ahead of our own. Indeed, many of us who work with animals in some capacity would probably describe it as more of a “calling” than a career. For some, it is also a lifestyle.
After a full day of taking care of animals, whether you’re a dog walker or a veterinarian, you probably come home and tend to your own furry, finned, and feathered friends. Some of us devote our lives to ending animal cruelty by writing letters, signing petitions, participating in protests, or following a strict vegan diet. Others spend their free time picking up stray dogs or helping feral cats.
And even though this type of work and/or lifestyle is often rewarding, it is sometimes lacking in balance because we tend to be so “other directed.” In other words, we tend to be “on the clock” 24 hours a day, seven days a week! Not surprisingly, this kind of schedule can sometimes drain us – physically, emotionally, and even spiritually – making us more vulnerable to compassion fatigue.
Do you think your personality is making you more vulnerable to compassion fatigue? Are you curious to know your type? Check out http://www.humanmetrics.com/personality/type to take your free personality test. I’m an INFJ, by the way. What are you?