Transforming Caregiver Stress into Compassion Resilience

What is Compassion Resiliency?

what will have you be more resilient, given all that you hold?

what will have you be more resilient, given all that you hold?

What will have you be more compassionate and resilient, given all that you hold?

Compassion resiliency is the capacity to sustain our strength, hope and purpose over the long-term, whilst extending love, dignity and care to those we serve.

It allows us to honour and attend to our own concerns and needs, whilst simultaneously connecting to, and being present with, the concerns of others.

We all hold within us, the organic, natural potential for resilience.  Our biological systems are designed for it, just as animals in the wild have the innate capacity to bounce back from adversity.  In the same way, our nervous systems are primed to seek out and receive compassionate connection; experiencing attuned, resonant relationships with our attachment figures, is our birthright.

Unfortunately, as a result of the toxic environments that are now endemic in our culture (let alone our caregiving roles), along with our exposure to all-too-common care-taking deficits and attachment wounds in early infancy, compassion resiliency is no longer a process that can be left to chance.  It needs to become a deliberate and intentional commitment, something we prepare for, build, and practice. It is something we need to relearn, often for the first time.

“Our capacity for resilience can be cultivated.  Like any other way of being, we can embody resilience more deeply, by making it a conscious embodied practice, rather than waiting for it to happen to us.” – Staci Haines

Drawing on both my own experience and the wisdom of my clients over the last ten years, I have identified 6 qualities that define and support compassion resilience, which you can read more about here.

But they are to be held lightly, because any definitions and related curriculum must, of course, be unique to every individual. What we are all invited to do, however, is attend to the process with a curious mind, and stay in inquiry around our relationship to it.  What does compassion resilience mean to me? Why do I care? Where does it reside in my body, my posture, my gestures? What are my moods and sensations when I am grounded in it? How am I being, thinking, acting  when I am the living expression of it? What sustains it, what prevents me from knowing it, what sabotages my commitment to it?

And there’s one more thing…

We cannot afford for compassion resiliency to remain simply a personal undertaking.

“If I stand for living in a compassionate, caring world, shouldn’t I be living it too?”

To be truly compassion resilient, we must challenge our notion of self-care as a solitary endeavour, and be prepared to embrace it as a powerful, political practice; one that is intimately related to notions of interdependence and interconnectedness (the success, dignity, and survival of one are linked to the success, dignity, and survival of all*). From this stance, we understand that self care holds the precious potential for contributing to family and community healing.

When we wake up to the way our narratives of, and relationships to, self care, have been shaped by the prevailing cultures, systems and institutions we live and work within, we discover that a commitment to growing our compassion resiliency through self-care, becomes a pro-social action, one that is consistent with building safer, more sustainable communities, and with the kinds of leadership and policies that honour inclusive, harmonious, equal, and dignified relationships for all.

 read more about self care for social change here (coming soon)

*as beautifully defined in the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance report, Transforming Lives, Transforming Movement Building

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