Empathy and Boundary

Empathetic me, I’m still learning to be boundaried to prevent the scurvy of compassion fatigue.

When do I tune in to the pain of the world? At what frequency? For how long? How do I keep my heart open? Radically open? How do I listen to the screams and needs without drowning out my own?

I don’t want to close myself to protect myself. Only fearful folk build walls, only foolish folk believe in their efficacy. I need to know the difference between a boundary and a wall and I need to practice the flexibility required to navigate complexity.

When do I tune in to the pain of the world so that I am not complacent? So that my ears, nose and mouth do not fill with sand? When do I hide away, hibernate, rest and practice self-care, self-maintenance?

I’m a secular Buddhist who is uncertain that she believes in a separate self, in fact I don’t. So if I don’t believe in a separate self, how do I practice self-care? Well, I suppose the answer is simple, to care for oneself is to care for others. But too much self-care becomes self-indulgence at the cost of others. Self-involvement. Selfishness. The balance in difficult and a constant practice.

Breathe. Eat. Sleep. Hold space. Make friends with fear daily and remember that compassion is a practice that must extend both inward and outward to be effective and sustainable.

Remain radically, bravely open-hearted.

Breathe.

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