Being an educated and ethical dog professional is a unique choice that attracts very special people. There’s nothing like spending the summer outdoors, the moment a dog learns something and does the parade of victory, or advising someone who loves their dog to the moon and back - but has no idea how to help them.
There’s also that dog you can’t help, the cancellations and dissatisfaction and that constant fending away requests for free consultations and advice so you can pay the rent. The darker side still is drowning in empathy and risk of compassion fatigue.
Dog care is a caring profession, educated dog care and management attracts caring people. Like nursing and veterinary health, we do it because we want to be there for those that need us. Caring professions attract empaths. An empath will experience the situation of others. If we see a grieving person we can understand how they feel through our mind, or actually feel their emotions, through our own emotional experience.
Ask yourself now, which are you? If you feel everything you are likely to be a natural empath and emotionally invested in the experiences of others. The good news is you are probably an excellent canine professional – because you conduct yourself with empathy for others.
Feeling everything through a continual flood of emotion can be damaging to your health and wellbeing. It can lead to compassion fatigue, physical illness and depression.
You can’t stop feeling and nor would you want to, but it’s a good idea to learn to manage your mind and by default your experiences in the world. A wild mind and runaway emotions can rob you of your sparkle, contentment and ultimately your physical health. Compassion fatigue begins with a niggle in your mind when you wake, everything seems a little duller and there’s not much mental investment in the day ahead. You might get aches and pains, you could start complaining where you normally wouldn’t or experience flushes of anger or resentment. You might start questioning how deserving the ones you are helping are, because they take so much of your own energy. Mental health is something we still rarely speak of, yet it’s a huge factor in the world today for many different reasons. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
A Psychological Vaccination
There are things that can be avoided to maintain your own psychological welfare. It’s worth taking some time to strip your life of unnecessary stressors. Things like arguing online and watching bad dog trainers hurt dogs – through videos, are not something you need to do. Focussing on the negative things is draining and exhausting so it’s a good idea to turn everything around.
Good habits that you can procure include mindfulness, choosing the people in your life carefully and self-care will all make you stronger. The simple act of becoming really present in the moment whilst engaging with a dog, will light up areas of your brain that make you resilient. Unplugging and doing absolutely nothing - but a basic meditation where you simply count your breath – for ten minutes a day will grow your inner strength.
Make every moment in your life count, by placing your focus on it. Make every choice one that benefits you, it’s not selfish but self-care. And when you know yourself inside out, and can maintain your inner light you will be a beacon for the ones you’re trying to help.