From so many colleagues and my own inner monologue I have heard variations of the following issue.
When I leave my job, I can’t turn off the caring. When I see others in my community that need help, do I respond? Won’t I burn out if I am a social worker 24/7?
This feeling is as old as the profession itself. Jane Addams describes the overwhelming feeling one has when your eyes are opened to suffering.
“For the following weeks I went about London almost furtively, afraid to look down narrow streets and alleys lest they disclose again this hideous human need and suffering.” ~ Jane Addams (20 Years at Hull House)
Can you relate? At a certain point I adopted the motto that not every good thing is my good thing to do. Otherwise, the work I put onto myself would be infinite. However, I don’t want my care for the community to be contained only in my job. I find that what drew me to Social Work, the belief that we can bring to life a community where everyone has access to well- being, doesn’t stop when I leave work. But compassion fatigue is a real thing. So is not taking care of yourself properly. It’s a tough tightrope to walk.
At the end of the day, I believe each one of us has to find our personal balance on this question. For me, I discovered that caring for others in my free time can actual rejuvenate me- not lead to feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of need. But, there are times I have felt like Jane Addams, afraid to look up and see the suffering in my own community. Because then I know I would feel called to act.
Honestly, I have to answer this question again and again every day. It is not a balance I have mastered. How do you manage this balance? Is this an area you struggle with. Comment or write me – would be honored to hear your thoughts.
There is something about the holidays and the start of the new year that many of us find hopeful. For some Social Workers, we can feel the sharp juxtaposition between this occurance and our experiences day to day with those that have lost hope. That loss of hope becomes even more apparent amidst the hopefulness that surrounds it in this season.
So today I wanted to highlight a fantastic article written by Elizabeth Clark covering 10 important notes about hope for Social Workers.
Read the full article from The New Social Worker Magazine here and make hope a priority for yourself and those you serve.
10 Essentials Social Workers Must Know About Hope
I hope for hope.
Best to you all,
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”
I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot, especially in the last six months. As persons witnessing first hand everyday how environments and system intersect in harmful and tragic ways in the lives of those who lack the protective factors to resist their impacts, social workers are in a unique position in society.
We have vowed not forget those experiencing poverty. As Dorothy Day said
“We must talk about poverty, because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it.”
And still I find that I fall into my own insulated comforts again and again. So this quote holds a sting for me. However, this is not a guilt trip…far from it.
It is meant as an encouragement to you social worker. To you who will muster the creativity, partnership, alliances, good will, and imagination of your agency/community/and each individual that may fall to your caseload– to act. I will be there, in my own community, taking action with you.
There is no one to wait for. It is you.
Anyone who has met me knows I think a lot about music. I like to play it, create it, and enjoy it. Lyrics from certain songs have had a significant impact on how I see the world and have also helped me to process emotions.
I keep an ear out for songs that have social or emotional value, as well as musical beauty. The song featured below checks all those boxes. Her message to society and those who have experience sexual assault is clear, as well as empathetic. It is a connection point to those who may have experienced assault or walked a friend through such an experience.
As someone who works in the homelessness field, the song is especially poignant for me. You don’t have to work very long in the homelessness field to hear story after story about those assaulted while just trying to find a safe place to sleep each night. That’s why it is on this social worker’s playlist.
Boys will be Boys- Stella Donnelly
What songs have had an impact on you recently?