You started taking on clients because you care. You want to help people. Whether your area of passion is yoga, coaching, nutrition, Pilates, massage, EFT or tantra, your heart led you into this healing profession... and yet now you can feel your heart rusting over.
You feel close-hearted, defended, snappy or resentful—and this flares up with your loved ones, as well as with the clients you’re supposed to be helping.
If your clients are getting on your nerves, it’s likely you’ve hit compassion fatigue. This is far worse than heart-burn. This is heart-burn-out.
Why is this happening? And can you escape this burnout, and enjoy feeling open, loving and caring again?
Here are three explanations for why your heart is burning out and three actionable remedies.
3 Reasons You're Burned Out & What To Do About Them
1. You’re not making enough money.
I know, I know—you’re not doing it for the money. You love the work, so you know deep down you’d do it for free. You love people, so you feel everyone should benefit from your gifts. You’re generous and you don’t want anyone to walk away empty-handed.
And yet you also have bills to pay. Plus you only have limited time in the day. So if you’re running from class to class, or client to client, with barely time to breathe, because your hourly rate isn’t high enough ... you’ll wind up resenting the very people you want to love with all your heart.
If the cash isn’t flowing, you’ll feel unable to take proper breaks and you’ll work daytimes, evenings, and weekends, not giving yourself time to rejuvenate and nourish. You are your greatest asset when you work for yourself. You must take care of yourself, and making a healthy living enables you to do that.
Remedy: Raise your prices.
Readjust your pricing to a fair, sustainable level so you don’t feel resentful, and also so you’re able to hire administrative help, pay for soothing massage or yoga treatments for yourself, or use the money to free up your time in some other way. (House-cleaner, anyone?)
If you feel icky about charging higher prices (and this is quite normal when you’re engaged in healing work), just remember: it’s not working out right now and you won’t be able to sustain your business if something doesn’t change. If you go out of business, nobody will benefit.
2. You’re over-available.
Just as you might be under-receiving financially, you might be over-giving energetically.
Jenny is a coach who confided in me that she was starting to dread logging onto email because she’d have long, needy emails from her clients. They were emailing her every day, including weekends. Jenny started to resent them and associate their names with a sinking feeling in her tummy.
She recognized she hadn’t set boundaries around where her service started and finished. Just because someone was paying for a certain number of sessions per month didn’t mean they could have access to her all hours; she realized that all work and no play was making her tense and irritable.
Remedy: Set clear expectations with your clients.
Explain when and how can they contact you (if at all) between classes or sessions. How quickly should they expect a response?
Once you’ve set this expectation, honor it. At first, Jenny found she was still sneaking into her inbox in the evenings, rather than settling down to relax with a good book. She realized her clients wouldn’t trust her word if she was sloppy with her own healthy rules.
3. Your offering isn’t in the optimal format.
Perhaps you’re currently teaching group yoga classes and you find them draining; you crave the depth and simplicity of one-to-one sessions instead. Or vice versa - perhaps you’ve been working one-to-one with clients in your osteopathy practice but now want to leverage your time to help many people at once.
It can be scary to change a format that to all outward appearances is working, but it’s not working if you’re dreading your next class or client and feeling close-hearted.
Remedy: Ask yourself what you really want.
Be brave: Drop the format that doesn’t do it for you (anymore). Announce your new offerings. You’ll find that working life can actually be easier than you’d thought and that people are looking for exactly what you most want to share.
This kind of burnout is actually much more common than you’d think. Many of your colleagues will be feeling very similar to you, but out of guilt or shame they won’t be talking about their struggles. It’s time to shine a light on compassion fatigue in our healing professions, identify why it’s happening, and then take the remedies described here, so you can find your way back to loving your clients again.