Empathy & Self-Care

“Empathy is the first pre-requisite to a successful therapeutic relationship. Only with this in mind can the engaged individual in the pursuit of wellness can be uplifted.”

This is a quote from Salman Abouzied that sums up this episode of Self-Care Tuesdays.

Salman is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner who specializes in therapy and psychopharmacological treatment of various psychological disorders and who also happens to be Krista’s cousin.

A sensitive guy who grew up toughening to meet gender norms, Salman embraced his authentic empathic self after receiving these words from a patient on his first psychiatric nursing assignment: “Thank you for listening to me. Nobody listens to me”.

He shares his personal and professional journey and imparts tips and techniques that help him cope with his emotionally heavy practice – from not carrying his patients’ luggage after sessions to choosing whom to hang out with after work; from doing yoga in between appointments to actively participating in CrossFit; and from maintaining a great consultation room to maintaining a happy home and family life.

As Krista and Kat point out, you can learn from Salman’s stories whether you are a practitioner or not. You have the capability to be empathic and, as long as you practice self-care in all areas of your life, you can be your highest self and benefit others around you.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What empathy is and its difference with merely feeling sorry for another person

  • Why empathy is necessary for self-care and how self-care boosts empathy

  • The process of shielding and creating a boundary to avoid overwhelm

  • Important mental health statistics and the current concerns of the healthcare industry

  • The fine line between empathy and enabling and how to avoid crossing it

  • Simple steps practicing self-care in your workplace

Big Takeaways:

  • Mental health is not simply mental illness and wellness. It is a spectrum. Everyone is in a certain point in a gauge with their mental health.

  • If you can’t be sensitive to yourself, you won’t be sensitive with others.

  • Self-care means having the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of your life all covered.

  • Patients look up to their therapists. Yet, therapists should only help people process their feelings and not give them answers. You should be a white canvass for the patients to project onto your blank screen. You must not bleed your story onto theirs and vice versa.

  • It’s the patient’s journey and not the therapist’s journey. The best thing the therapists could do is empower the patient in making a decision. It’s not the therapist’s responsibility to mold the patient’s life into something they don’t want or won’t serve them.

  • Having a therapist doesn’t mean you’re crazy. Therapy can help you sort out what’s good or bad for you.

  • Set boundaries with people and things that don’t lift you up or make you better. But don’t completely shut yourself. Find a delicate balance, preferably, with the help of a professional.

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