by Mary Riposo, PhD
When you work in the helping profession, sometimes it is difficult not to take on the energy of the people you serve. If you do helping or healing work, you are likely someone who has a good deal of empathy and compassion for others. But doing this work can be an energy drain. If you originally got into helping work because you needed healing yourself, as many of us do, you may feel like you are moving backward. You may be taking on the difficult energies of the people you work with, and find it hard to release or clear those energies after the people have gone. This can be particularly difficult for sensitive people, and may even make you wonder whether you should be doing this work at all. In fact, I quit my healing practice for a year early on due to this very problem.
Since that time, I have learned many valuable lessons around healing and energy. One important lesson I have learned is the difference between empathy and compassion. All healing work comes from love and when I teach Reiki classes, I make sure to emphasize the point that you need to come from a place of compassion as opposed to empathy when you do healing work.
Emergency Room medical staff have this figured out. They are compassionate healers, but they make sure to protect themselves in the process. They have all that they need to keep themselves safe from taking on the client's symptoms; gloves, masks, disinfectants, hand washing protocols, etc. They connect with patients in a compassionate way in order to learn what is wrong, and then they offer their healing skills and techniques. They don't become engulfed in the patient's pain, and they don’t feel guilty for leaving when their shift is over. They know that there's always someone else to cover for them and that they need the time off to rest and recharge, so that they can come in and do their best work the following day. They have figured out that taking on someone else's pain does not end their suffering; and that it only increases the amount of suffering in the world. When I teach Reiki classes, I give the following analogy:
You are the lamp, the Universal Life Force Energy is the electricity, and the recipient can use the light for whatever purpose they choose. As a healer, all you have to do is show up, plug yourself in, and let your light shine. It is up to your clients to take it in. You can't do it for them, and you are not the one doing the healing. You are only the conduit for the healing to take place.