Need a quick answer to a career or personal dilemma? Career and life coach Marielys Camacho-Reyes will answer your concerns in her new column “Ask the Coach.”
I recently moved to Central America with my husband. He’s in the military and we have been assigned to this new place for two years. We really love it here. People are very nice and the food is delicious. Again, we really like it here but I have to say that living in such a poor country is killing me inside. I try not to let it get to me but every time I go somewhere, I see little kids running in the streets with no shoes and dirty clothes. It breaks my heart every time I see this but the problem is that, as much as I would like to help, there is no way I can help all of them. It really bothers me not being able to do something for all of them. There have been times when I go out for X or Y reason, and have to go back home because I just can’t control my tears. I hate feeling this way, but I don’t know what to do anymore; and leaving the country is not an option at this moment. My husband needs me here and honestly, I don’t want to leave. What can I do? How can I manage this situation? Is there such a thing as getting tired of not being able to help people?
Dear Patty M.,
I completely understand what you are going through because I felt the same way while I was living overseas due to my husband’s military assignments. I went through it so I can honestly tell you that, the feelings you have right now will not get any better unless you work in yourself. You have to work in stop feeling like that, because unfortunately, like you said; you can’t help everyone. Unfortunately, and as harsh as it sounds, it’s not your responsibility to fix the issue. If you want to make a difference in their lives, provide help but don’t put your mental and emotional health in risk. There are many ways you can help. For example, you can volunteer in an orphanage or a school, sponsor a family by providing them the support they need (e.g., food, medicines, etc.), or just by donating money to a special cause. These things will make you feel like you are, in fact, contributing to the problem. But, you need to understand that as much as you want to help everyone; it’s humanly impossible for you to do that. So, the answer to your question is yes; t here is such a thing as getting tired of not being able to help people. The correct term for it is “compassion fatigue.” If you want to get more information about this condition, contact your health care provider and he/she will be able to explain in more details what this condition is all about, and the appropriate ways to deal with it.
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