Episode #89: The Burden Of Caregivers, Compassion Fatigue & Burnout, With Dr. Edward Smink, Author & Coach




Edward Smink, the founder of The Soul of Caregiving Coaching Practice, is an in-demand speaker, coach, and author of The Soul of Caregiving, A Caregiver’s Guide to Healing and Transformation. Edward holds an Associate Degree in Nursing from Newton Junior College, a BA in Psychology from Boston College, an MA in Counseling Psychology, a MA and PhD in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. He is a former Registered Nurse, Healthcare Executive in Mission, Values, Spirituality, Ethics, End of Life Care, and Community Health. He holds titles as a Board-Certified Chaplain with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains and is an Associate Coach with the International Coaching Federation.


INCLUDED IN THIS EPISODE (But not limited to):


·      Care Advice For The Caregiver

·      Compassion Fatigue Defined

·      Burnout Defined

·      Pandemic Benefits

·      Emotional Considerations

·      Relationship Imbalance

·      Why Comparisons Won’t Work

·      Three Cultural Taboos That Prevent Self-Care





Website & Books: https://soulofcaregiving.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/soulofcaregiving

Twitter: https://twitter.com/smink_m

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/edwardmphd/





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Email: DeVannon@SDJPodcast.com





·      Pray Away Documentary (NETFLIX)


TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tk_CqGVfxEs


·      OverviewBible (Jeffrey Kranz)




·      Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed (Documentary)



·      Leaving Hillsong Podcast With Tanya Levin




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·      FreeUp: https://freeup.net




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·      American Legion: https://www.legion.org


·      What The World Needs Now (Dionne Warwick): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfHAs9cdTqg





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Dr. Edward Smink


You’re listening to the sex drugs and Jesus podcast, where we discuss whatever the fuck we want to! And yes, we can put sex and drugs and Jesus all in the same bed and still be all right at the end of the day. My name is De’Vannon and I’ll be interviewing guests from every corner of this world as we dig into topics that are too risqué for the morning show, as we strive to help you understand what’s really going on in your life.

There is nothing off the table and we’ve got a lot to talk about. So let’s dive right into this episode.

DeVannon: Dr. Edward Smith, the founder of the Soul of Caregiving Coaching Practice, is an in-demand speaker, coach, and author of the Soul of Caregiving, A Caregiver’s Guide to Healing and Transformation. This is a very unique episode, Edward and I. Come at caregiving from a unique perspective with the focus being on giving care advice to the caregiver.

Y’all compassionate [00:01:00] fatigue and burnout are real, and I’m happy to have an expert here with me today to tell you everything about it. 

De’Vannon: Hello everyone and welcome back to the Sex Drugs in Jesus podcast. My name is Devana. I’m your host. Have with me here today Dr. Edward smi, and he is the author of a, I’m gonna say a. Hmm. A very polarizing book called Soul of Caregiving, A Caregiver’s Guide to Healing and Transformation. This book here talks about what I consider to be a most taboo topic because it deals with the pains and the grievances that people go through, not because of problems they’re going through necessarily, but because the.

DeVannon: Problems a loved one is going through, particularly in the area of health. And so that’s what we’re going to talk to today. You know, how we can beat ourselves up, tell us, tell ourselves we’ve never done enough, you know, when they die, what more could we have done? So on and so forth. And through caring for [00:02:00] somebody who’s not well, we forget to take care of ourselves.

And so, so Dr. Smith’s website addresses that in depth as to does this book we’re gonna talk about today. So, Dr. Smi, how are you?

Edward: I am doing very well and I appreciate this opportunity to talk about self-care and, and how to prevent compassion fatigue and burnout.

DeVannon: Absolutely. And so tell us you know, a little bit about like your educational history you know, you are a doctor. Tell us like, you know, where you went to school, what kind of doctor Exactly. And so.

Edward: Well, I have a doctorate in depth psychology, which focuses on trying to understand a person’s Willingness to deal with their life, to deal with their soul. And I use the word soul in the sense of that inner energy that’s within each [00:03:00] person. I, I think of the The painting in the Sistine Chapel where you have the divine God, the Father reaching out to Adam, and there’s that sense of touching each other, that somehow we allow ourselves to get in touch with that sacred part of who we are.

And in that space, we’re able to make appropriate choices and decisions. So I used to belong to a community of brothers that work for healthcare. I have a background in nursing. And then I became a chaplain and I, I worked a lot with the different ethical and, and, and, and spiritual issues that both families and, and caregivers and patients experience.

And I could, I could talk more about that. And then I after I got. Bachelor’s in, in nursing. I [00:04:00]then got a master’s in counseling psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. And, and I used to work full-time also, so I worked full-time and I also got my master’s. And I don’t know how I did it, but I did it.

And I then started doing coaching and I started working in, in executive leadership in, in healthcare working with mission and values, which has to do with organizational organizational development. And, and then I also worked with ethics. I was on ethics committees. I was on, developed ethics committees and dealt with death and dying, dealt with hospice.

 Dealt with the issues that most family members face when a loved one becomes critically ill. And then I also worked in community health trying to be a [00:05:00] presence in the community our healthcare system to give back to the community in helping them with, with different health issues. So I got a, a master.

In, in counseling psychology. Then I got a PhD, another master’s in a PhD, in depth psychology, and that’s where the doctor comes from. My Doctoral thesis was the thresholds of affliction, the heroic journey of healing. What happens to a person when they’re ill and what resources do they use to help them get in touch with that curative part of their that’s happening or to help them deal with the, the dying process.

That’s sort of my background and I sound younger than I am, and I, I like that. Most people think I am about 10 or 15 years younger than I am, and I like that too. And I [00:06:00] often say, if you could only see me now. But anyway, I have a passion to reach out to caregivers and then I explain who are the caregivers?

And I say, we all are because at the heart of being human is to. Parents care for their children. Spouses care for each other. Educators care for their pupils. First responders and police officers care for the people they work with. We’re all, we’re all caregivers. It’s not just in the medical field of doctors and nurses and, and, and therapists.

So, because we all care, the, the danger is that we don’t care for our. We’re, we’re, we’re, I think there’s a phrase that’s easier to give than receive, and, and so we’re, we’re used to always wanting to give, but we don’t use those same skills to take care of [00:07:00] ourself. In the, in the Hebrew scripture and then also in the Christians scriptures, it says, you know, love the Lord your God with all your mind, all your heart, and all your being.

And then it says, love your neighbor as you love. Now here’s the question. Have we grown up with a healthy respect of loving ourself? We usually think we’re not good enough or what because of culture or our different political aspirations. We don’t feel that the gift that we are in, in, in most spiritual traditions as as, as a child of the divine, we don’t, we don’t.

Let that sink in and realize how, how special we are. So you’re special and I’m special. The everyone who’s listening is special. And when we allow ourselves to experience that specialness, we’re able to make appropriate decisions to care for ourself.

DeVannon: Right. [00:08:00] So thank you for uh, the, that, that, that, that thorough breakdown of You know, well, I guess you, I guess your answered the other question I was gonna ask you about, like, why you wrote the book, you know, and that I think you, I think you covered that already, so thank you for that. But you mentioned that, that, that you do coaching.

So I’m curious, like what, what sort of coaching do you do and what is it that you help people gain?

Edward: Well, I work mainly with caregivers. And who are they? So the, we’re all caregivers, but what I really try to focus on a person who’s experiencing compassion fatigue, and I’ll explain that in, in, in also burnout. I’ll explain that. You hear that a lot. I try to have them focus on their strengths, not on the problem that they’re dealing with.

So what are the strengths that you. and when we, we focus on our own interior strengths, then we’re able to [00:09:00] separate the issue that’s, that we’re dealing with. We’re able to pull it apart. We’re able to make appropriate choices cuz we have a foundation. But what happens with compassion fatigue is that we we’re so exhausted, we lose our bearing.

You know, we’re, we’re on. And we need to get back to the center of things. So compassion fatigue happens because we love what we’re doing and we get exhausted.

DeVannon: So,

Edward: love what we’re doing.

DeVannon: so, so it’s a mixture of love and exhaustion. Before, before we get too much into the definition of compassion fatigue, I wanted, I want to hang on to the Into the coaching. So y’all, his, his, his website is soul of caregiving.com. You can book counseling, coaching sessions, co counseling sessions there and get more information there.

He’s a very interesting blog on the website and of course, you know the book soul of Caregiving, the Caregiver Guide to Healing and Transformation can [00:10:00] also all be bought through that website. So, , do you, can you gimme an example of like a client that you were working with, like what their issue was and how you helped them to overcome that issue, and then what, how they were after you helped them to overcome.

Edward: well, I can think of one in particular who was an executive leader in in nursing, and she always. Always got in trouble because she was, she wasn’t taking care of herself. And, and she came to me and, and she said, I, I think I’m, I’m going through burnout. And I, so we started talking about it, and over a course of six months, and sometimes it takes longer, she was able to focus on how she.

Get out of the trap that she knitted herself into. [00:11:00] She didn’t realize that she was like a, a, a hamster in a wheel that was constantly going, going spinning and spinning and spinning cuz she was always so directed to take care of others. And she learned that from her mother who was a nurse. And so she, she always thought she had to push and push and push and push and push and never took time for herself.

So that realization took time for her to own it and not to feel selfish or not to feel guilty. Well, I’m guilty because I’m, I’m, I am taking a three day weekend, or I’m guilty because my husband and I are going for a trip and we’re leaving the children with our grand, with our parents. It, it’s like it It is, it is.

And I had another client. Who felt she was selfish, you know? And I said, look at, and I told this other client, I said, look [00:12:00] at what you’ve done, what you’ve done for others. How can you say you’re selfish? This other client was taking care of her father with Alzheimer for two years until he died. And I said, look at all you’ve done.

How can you say you’re selfish? And she realized, She wasn’t selfish to take care of herself, but it took a long time for her to say it’s okay. So coaching takes time. It’s not, it’s not like, you know, you’re knocked off your horse and, and, and you get insight. You get insight and then you have to apply it.

Yeah. It, it, you have, it’s like a muscle. You have to massage it.

DeVannon: Right? And so when it, when it comes to the to the caregivers and the caretakers, Well, there was a sta a statistic that, that I read that it says like, in 20 20, 20 3% of American caregivers said caregiving had made [00:13:00] their own health worse. And that’s according to the A A R P. You know, and I was reading it, you know, you know, and it also elsewhere said you know, that care caregiving is like the growing crisis that everyone must face.

I think we saw this a lot. You know, when Covid hit and then the nurses and everything, you know, they started quitting and, you know, there was a lot of burnout and like, and fatigue and stuff like that. So did you see an an influx of, of, I guess, customers or patients during covid or how, how, from your view, has Covid impacted the subject at hand?

Edward: Well, COVID affected us. In many ways, and I think the main reason was it the normal that we knew became nonexistent. So most of us were going through a sense of [00:14:00] grieving. We were going through a sense of loss. We were going through anxiety because we wanted to get out and do things. We wanted to get back to normal.

I remember two years ago I was gonna have a, a birthday party for my brother and myself we’re twins, and that’s when Covid started. And I remember it saying to my, my cousin, well, this’ll be over in a week or two and we can get on with it. Well, two years later, you know, we’re, we’re, we’re emerging out of our tunnels.

But I think what most people. Faced was themself. They, they had to deal with issues that all of a sudden popped up that they couldn’t run away from, and, and so that some were able to cope with that and some weren’t. I think it also helped people become more reflect. [00:15:00] You know, after you can’t, I mean, how many movies can you watch it?

You know, and all of a sudden you’re realizing that you have time to read, you have time to focus, you have time to write, you have time to journal, you have time to read that book. You’ve always wanted to, you have time to spend with your family in ways that you didn’t. And so it, it, it forced most of us to deal.

Personal issues that often were hidden. And so there’s a recovery they call it now, post covid, you know relief. How, how to, how to help clients or how to help each other realize we can put our feet back in the water, but the water is different than it was two years ago. . See, that’s, that’s, that’s what’s d.

and so we’re creating a new normal. That’s different because we’re [00:16:00] different.

DeVannon: Right. And so, yeah, I mean, I, I concur. People did have to face themselves. I think that that is like the greatest benefit of Covid. I dunno if it sounds, You know, oxymoron to associate benefits with Covid, but I do cuz I felt like personally a lot of good came out of it. And one of the greatest things was, like you said, causing people to face themselves because people could not go and bury their reality and activities or bury their pain and activities.

You know, they had to actually deal with life on life terms and deal with life as it is, rather than to be, to cater to distrac.

Edward: Exactly. Exactly. And it, it, it challenged all of us. And, and some people did. And others in coping and others, you know, got really depressed.

DeVannon: Yeah. Or acted out in their own ways. , so.

Edward: Yes, we do.

DeVannon: All right, so, so then let, let me bring this back around [00:17:00] then to the compassion fatigue and burnout. Go ahead and explain to us, you know, what those two are.

Edward: Well, compassion fatigue has to do with doing something. We love. We really love being a parent. We really love being a spouse. We really love teaching, or we love nursing, or we love being a, a, a first responder or please. We love, we love, we love what we do, but we get exhausted. And because we get exhausted, it’s called compassion.

because we’re so compassion, we get fatigued. And the antidote to that is called compassion resilience, that we’re able to step away from a situation and, and, and not Not de personalize ourself from it, but [00:18:00] to build a safety net and boundaries that we could weave in and out without getting totally absorbed in, into, into the situation.

So that’s, that’s what compassion fatigue is. Burnout has to do with being in a situation. It could be, as you said, the danger of being a caregiver at home and feels feeling. and no one’s helping me. And I could talk about that in a little bit. And so you, you, you lose hope. You don’t get the emotional let’s say a wife is taking care of her husband who has Alzheimer’s.

She doesn’t get the same satisfaction of the relationship that she had before. So she’s going through a sense of grieving and, and she also is, is. Feels that she’s stuck. And so or I could [00:19:00] be in a, a work situation in, in a hospital clinic, a, a school, and, and the people in charge do not give me the normal human satisfaction of being there as a person.

I’m, I’m just a clog and a wheel, and so I never feel I get the support. I never feel that there’s people helping me and, and acknowledging my humanness appreciation. You’ve done a good job. We’re really proud of you. All those things that help a person realize that that what they’re doing is, is who they are and they’re affirmed in that situation.

When you’re not affirm. You, you feel like you’re, you’re hitting your head against the wall because no matter what you do doesn’t change the situation that the people on top don’t recognize you [00:20:00]in your human gifts and capacities. So that’s the difference between burnout and compassion fatigue.

DeVannon: Right. And so thank you for, you for explaining that. Another great thing I thought that came from Covid was this gut check that had to come into employers because employers. you know, not always so great. Their employees underappreciate them, overwork them, underpay them, and act like that. That employee always has to come there.

When people were sitting at home reflecting, they realized that, you know, life is short. They got their value system organized. A lot of people who never liked those jobs anyway, and were burned out on those jobs, then go back to those jobs and you know, and now we have like this surplus of jobs and everything.

And I think it’s the most beautiful thing because employee employers have had to humble themselves down

Edward: Yes. Yes.

DeVannon: and not think the world revolves around them because they’re the one cutting the checks. , [00:21:00] you know, you actually need employees to make a business run, and so,

Edward: Well, I like what you said that that many people got in touch with their values and realized that they, they could leave a situation, they didn’t have to stay stuck. , you see? And, and they could, they could work with a corporation on a different way. And corporations were realizing that the best, the most important entity that they have are their employees.

And, and so how do you make sure that their needs are being taken care. It, it, it’s, it takes, it takes less money to care for your employees than to keep hiring new people cuz people quit.

DeVannon: right. It does. Absolutely. And hopefully these employers have learned that of the reason why I work for myself now is because I’ve had a [00:22:00] litany of terrible bosses and supervisors and companies that I’ve worked for and I was just like, you know the hell with all that. So Well, something in you. Something in you said, see, it forced you to be creative. , it forced you to get in touch with what your real values and what you wanted to do. And so that’s, that’s the blessing. And saying, I can’t go back to that. I don’t, you know, but some people do and, and they, they’re miserable.

Edward: I call ’em mis aholic, so I’m glad you brought that up,

DeVannon: Absolutely. Now I’m gonna take a curve ball here with compassion fatigue and burnout, because as you were describing it, I’m hearing echoes of relatability here when it comes to romantic relationships. You know, we’ve talked about like parents, you know, employers are health setting. , [00:23:00] do you believe there’s any implications with compassion fatigue and burnout when we have like a romantic partner and maybe we’ve overextended that relationship and we just don’t wanna leave?

Edward: Well, I think the same issue comes up about being true to yourself and sometimes, and I’m sure during the covid, people realized who are married, that they don’t love each other. And so they made appropriate decisions. I think that romantically, I often say the gift of a relationship is that the spouse gives permission for the other to be who they are and vice versa.

So your, your, your spouse wants you to be who you really could. And you want your spouse to be who they [00:24:00] really could be. And so when you start with that framework, you’re on a deeper level than competition.

DeVannon: Hmm.

Edward: And you know you probably know and heard enough that the way women think is different than the way men.

and they’re both, both, right, , it’s not like one’s right, or or the other. But men tend to look at something from one perspective and women from the other, and they could share those perspectives. And again, it’s not right or wrong, it’s just the fact that, oh, I didn’t see it that way. So again, how does it, how does it come back to normal communication?

DeVannon: So when you, when you said you know, no competition, I, I had that reaction because, you know, I’m, I’m dealing with a relationship right now where, There’s this whole from the other person, like this whole competition wanting to compare, [00:25:00] you know? So that’s why I had that reaction because like you hit the nail on the head,

Edward: Well, you might, you might again You might decide to have a come to Jesus meeting and, and say, I, I, you know, it it, let’s say for example, this person does something where you feel competition. That’s when you should say can, can we talk about, I just feel you’re competing with me and I, I, I don’t want to compete with you.

I wanna love. And if she’s open to that or he’s open to that, then you have a beginning of a new relationship. If they’re not, then you’re realizing that you’re in the wrong relationship.

DeVannon: Right, because that, that, that comparison and that competition doesn’t work. [00:26:00] I was talking with you know, well, well, you know, we’ve seen this on the news actually often enough. You know, you’ll have like one person in the relationship, be it straight, gay by whatever and so so, you know, we, we see on the news sometimes where jealous partner, jealous spouse, shows up at the job and like, kills someone, you know, kills their significant other because they were jealous or envious or whatever the case may be.

You know, That whole like, like the comparing thing and the competitiveness, you know, you mentioned it, but I really wanna point out to people just how dangerous that can get, you know, to, to, to stay in a relationship with somebody who doesn’t feel like they have equal footing. And that relationship, that thing is like a sort of cancer that’s only gonna get worse with time until that person snaps and does something.

You can’t stay in a relationship with somebody if you’re constantly feeling like you’re less.

Edward: Agree, and, and [00:27:00] all of us, no matter who we are. I mean, I grew up in an alcoholic family and I real, it took me a long time to overcome feeling I wasn’t good enough. You know, you from your background, especially from the racial background, you know, you’re, the way the white culture treats you. You go, well, am I good?

and, and all of a sudden you realize, damn, I am good enough, , you know, and, and I’m good enough. So that’s a real transformation. It’s a real gift to stand before the sacred and say, thank you for giving me the gifts I have and, and I will use my life to the best of my ability to live out those gift. I mean, how many, how many people?

How many people complimented you today?[00:28:00]

DeVannon: Well, I rarely leave my house, so, but when I’m when I’m out and about, you know, not really. I’m the one who finds, I like to compliment people because I understand what that’s doing for them, but most people don’t give them out.

Edward: Yeah. But I’m sure you have, you have good friends that support you.

DeVannon: Yeah, I mean, when I go around my friends, you know, if I change my beard color or I have on, if I’ve lost weight, you know, absolutely. They’ll do that. They will.

Edward: I have a friend who, who dyes his beard also

DeVannon: It’s the thing to do, man. I can’t grow hair on my head, so I gotta work with what I have, with what I got. So now let me thank you for going down that, that off the beat path with me with the whole relationships and everything because, you know, self-care is so, so important here. And when I think about this, I think about like how when my [00:29:00] grandfather had a stroke and then I think he was in the hospital paralyzed for like six months.

you know, the family had, you know, was keeping going up there to the hospital. I think about various people who have died and, and they were like bedridden in the hospital and I can, I remember how tired, like you can tell it in the faces and the energy of the person who was going up there, attend to them and everything.

Then when they died, it’s like their care. It’s like they got 20 years added back to their lives. 20, 30 years came back. It’s like their youth was renewed. And so can you talk to us about how it can be bad for our health to pour that much of our cells into somebody?

Edward: Well, it can be both a blessing and and a challenge. The blessing is, I’ve often said to doctors and nurses and other healthcare professionals, , are [00:30:00] you a better person because of the work that you do? And they all shake their head, yes, I, I’m a better person because that other person has taught me something that I didn’t know about myself.

So, for example, it is very tiring to be a caregiver and I may not be good with patience. . Well, the caregiver or your grandfather taught your family how to be patient. I mean, it just happened because that’s what happens. The, the, the person who is, who is the one being cared for becomes the caregiver to the caregiver. So when you reflect on those experiences, you pause and. on, on the different experiences. That’s what feeds you. When you don’t, that that’s when [00:31:00] you get tied up in nuts and, and you know, you probably heard, gee, I wish that person was dead. And then you hit yourself on the head and go, well, you know, how do, why am I saying that?

Well, I’m saying that cuz I’m frustrated, , you know, I’m, I’m tired and.

In our culture today, we don’t acknowledge dying. I wrote a paper about that called doctors and nurses don’t like to say the D word Dying. So the doctor will say, well, you’re, you’re great. Grandfather isn’t really doing well. What do you want me to. and then the family feels they have to make a decision whether or not the person lives or dies. 25 [00:32:00] years ago, the physician would say, your grandfather isn’t doing well. We’re gonna do everything to keep him comfortable, and, and his time is short, but we’re gonna keep ’em comfortable. See the difference. The physician. The physician hold. Holds the crisis. If, if you have children or, or ne nieces and nephews, if there’s something wrong with them, they run up to you.

What do you do? You reach out to your arms and you hold them. So caregivers need to hold the crisis. And what happens today is the p. will say, what do you want me to do? And, and the, the family gets all excited. Like they’re pulling the plug. Well, they’re not pulling the plug. The disease is pulling the plug.

You know what, what’s, what’s really [00:33:00] happening? And we have all these technology to prevent the dying process to keep a person alive when there’s no. No outcome that is going to be beneficial. And so that’s exhausting too. It’s exhausting because family members feel they’re responsible, but they’re not responsible.

The doctor is, and the disease process helps. You know, no one wants someone that they love to die. I call that an. On the other hand, the person’s medical condition is causing the person to die. I call that an orange, and they’re both the same. And so unless we address the fact that we’re, we’re ha we, we really feel we don’t want the person to die and [00:34:00] address the fact, the fact that they are.

What happens is it gets all messed up. I call it a fruit salad , instead of, instead of dealing with one issue at, at a time. And yes, I, I, I, I want my loved one to live, but I recognize that they’re dying and so let’s do what’s, what we can to keep them comfort.

DeVannon: what do you recommend, and I know each person is different in each situation where somebody’s caregiving is different, whether it’s a romantic relationship or someone dying in a hospice or a kid, or is there any general advice you can give to, you know, You know how, how, how does, how do people stop and understand, hey, you know, n I need to stop and do something for myself.

I’m giving too much. Do you find that people are like resistant to seeking help for [00:35:00] self-care in the first place

Edward: Well, they are, our culture says that I, I in my research I found out that there are are three cultural taboos that prevent self-care. The first is to acknowledge there’s something in me that I need help with. We’re raised to think we have to solve everything. and that it’s a sign of weakness to ask for help.

But healing is social healing has to do with relationships. And so the first cultural taboo is don’t acknowledge there’s something in you. There’s an issue that needs to be further explored and you can’t do it by yourself. The second cultural taboo is just as we don’t trust what’s happening or trust another, we don’t communicate our story.

So let’s talk about, you know, all [00:36:00] the floods that have happened here in, in California. All the devastation in some parts of the country. I, I mean, it’s some parts of the state and you have first responders. , you know, do their best. And, and, and someone may be swept away like a five year old was, you know, a couple weeks ago.

Well, that affects the person. And so can they tell their peers, you know, you know, I have a story to tell and boy, that, that losing that little kid really affected me. See, talking about our story is considered also a sign of weakness. And, and sh and to be shamed, you know, we’re supposed to handle everything.

We’re not supposed to share, share our story. But the, the real issue of healing is when we share our story and were heard, you know, that the other person really hears us. [00:37:00] It frees us to make choices. So we wanna trust someone that will hear our story. We don’t advi, we don’t want advice. You know, we want someone to hear us.

And so that’s the second taboo is don’t communicate your story. And the third cultural taboo is, Don’t feel what, what you’re feeling. Don’t acknowledge what you’re feeling. I feel sad. I feel pain. I feel hurt. I feel anger over that situation. We’re supposed to have a stiff upper lip pull up your bootstraps.

You know, big boys don’t cry. And big girls you know, get too emotional and they’re both wrong because being human is to. . And so I have a feeling over that particular situation I, and you know, it could be sad, it could be anger, it could be grief it, you know, but I’m [00:38:00] acknowledging that that really affected me.

I was working with a client once and she was a first responder and she was, she and her team went out to a, a single plane airplane. And when she got there, they couldn’t save the pilot cuz the, the plane just blew up. And so she was distraught over that and, and she started not sleeping well. And she started drinking and finally her supervisor said what’s going on?

And I think you need a coach to help you sort this through. So I was hired to do that. . And so as we’re working through this situation, she’s realized that it, it wasn’t her fault and, and she couldn’t do anything and that was okay in this situation. And she [00:39:00] then started getting in touch with going to a group that was called debriefing.

And she liked it so much because she realized that in that, people could talk openly about their experience and that she wasn’t by herself anymore. And her other teammates, this was voluntary. Her other teammates would, would tease her and say, oh, you’re going to the Cry Babies Club. So again, that’s the culture.

You know, don’t, don’t debrief, don’t talk about what you’re feeling. Don’t ask for help, don’t communicate your story. So all those things pile up. And, and so we’re raised we’re raised not to, to be rugged individualist. Now that’s, that’s more the, the English. [00:40:00] Focus, but the African American and the Mediterranean culture is to go to your family.

It’s more communal versus, versus the white culture that tends to be more independent, so the independent person has to reach out for help. The person who, who’s in a, a communal culture has to realize it’s okay to pull yourself out to ask for.

DeVannon: You know, that’s why I always challenge people. I’ll ask people, you know, like, why do you believe what you believe? Especially when they raise a particularly poignant point, they feel so intensely passionate about whether I agree with it or not. You know, it’s not the point of me asking it, but I really want to understand that whoever it is that I’m challenging and probing into like that has done their homework and done their own research within themselves to sort out their convictions because as you well know,[00:41:00]

You know, Edward, a lot of people believe a whole lot of things, but when you ask them, they can’t really say where they got that knowledge from. And I hear that, you know, like say with these, with this nursing situation, I wanna say it’s very immature for her coworkers to call her her group, the crybaby group. You know, it’s, it’s just so sad that no matter how old people get, some people still act like you know fucking children, but, but, you know, but, but for them to To, to even say that means that they think what you’re like, just like what you’re saying is that it’s not okay to emote to express this.

Like I would ask them, okay, you believe that this is a cry baby baby group and that this is an irrational use of emotion. But why though? Where did you get that belief system from? Well, you know, what you’ve already said is that it’s a cultural thing. My point in saying all this is people, people, you can think for yourself, your culture, your [00:42:00] race, racial background, your sexual orientation, whatever group you identify with.

Sure you got things in common with them, but they don’t get to think for you , you know, and tell you everything like the culture told me to do. It is not an acceptable answer to me.

Edward: Well, I agree with that and, and to stand apart is very difficult because we’re. We’re bashful, and yet at the same time, we have gifts. And when we allow ourselves to get in touch with those gifts, it gives us strength to be who are to be ourselves. And we’re not. We’re not it overcomes the bashfulness or the shyness.

DeVannon: Hmm. All I know. Is that, you know, you know this, this world, you know, we’re gonna have [00:43:00] a lot of problems ahead of us and we’ve got to get balanced. You know, you know, the world is not set to get any better, you know, we’re, you know, in terms of like our character, it seems like the richer we get, like the worst we get as like people.

You know, and like what I mean, like that is like when I’m say like in Mexico or in like a, a far less rich country than the United States, I feel like people have greater character, like an appreciation for one another. Then when I come here back to the United States, I’m all like, ah, fuck. You know? Then I gotta deal with Karen and Ken when I go out, you know, and everything like that.

And it’s just, , you know, and I’m saying all this to say, we had to learn how to take better care of ourselves. And then I don’t mean going out to buy more things for ourselves or to go have sex with more people or to go like you know, to fulfill whatever advice you like I’m talking about. Like get you know yourself, you know who [00:44:00] you are, how to truly strengthen yourself in times of tribulation because trouble is coming to this world and.

We’re gonna love people who are gonna need our help, but how do we, when is it too far? When do we ask for help? How do we ask for help? Thinking that you can do it all on your own is a, is a trap, it’s a weakness in and of itself. It’s overreliance on self. know, I don’t judge anybody for their religious or spiritual perspectives.

You know, Edward, you know, I’m, you know, a big follower of the Trinity. I don’t follow churches. I love being like, dependent on God. I don’t like, like many of my friends, you know, like, they’re like universe people, you know, like, like they thank the universe. They, they ask the universe for this or, or they’ll be like, all the answers are within me.

I feel like some of the answers are within me, but I love. Being able to reach outside of myself to a being higher than me, because for me, that takes the pressure off of me. You know, I’m over myself. I don’t feel like I need to be able to [00:45:00] do it all and know it all. I really, really, really, really think that, like you said, that there’s a lot of weakness built into an overreliance on ourself.

Edward: Well, I think it’s important. Who are the friends that you could communicate on, on the soulful level, and they’re the ones that support you? There is, there was a program about a year ago on N B C Lester Halt interviewed a, a captain of a police department and he was suffering from P T S D and he brought his team together and he said, you know, I’m suffering from PS P T S D and I don’t wanna hide it anymore.

And I want us to meet every week, you know, at our meeting. and it, it’s an opportunity that we can share our experiences and support each other instead of isolating each other. And so he started that program. It was a real [00:46:00] paradigm shift. And so the question I ask you, or everyone you know, yes, everything is could be considered crazy, and yet there’s a lot of good.

and how do you support yourself to focus on the goodness that helps you deal with the tribulations. And so when you have the, your, your network of friends, you may decide where you’re gonna meet, you know, once a week and you’re gonna have coffee or donuts or, or beer or wine or something. And you’re gonna discuss how to support each.

DeVannon: Mm-hmm. , you know what, that’s a start. But people have to be willing to be transparent to do that. One of the things that irks me the most, When I think about my past is when I got H I V and that and that terrible, terrible doctor that I had at the time left my positive h i v diagnosis on a voicemail on New Year’s Eve.[00:47:00]

You know, just over 10 years ago I was living in the heart of Montrose in Houston, Texas, which is gay district in Houston, which at the time was like the fourth largest city in the country. There’s a lot of people there.

Edward: I lived there for eight years.

DeVannon: Okay, so you know exactly what I’m talking about. The thing was, I was, so me and my friends were so we hung around each other, but we never had deep conversations.

We were too busy partying and trying to look cute, and we were cute, but we didn’t really know what the next person next to us was struggling with. So, , the, the, the how asin I and crazy it is for me to think that I was the only person with H I V. You know, I felt like such a, a pariah and a leper when really there was many, many lgbtqia a plus people with H I V that I should have been able to feel like I could go to.

But because we weren’t having those conversations, I felt completely.

Edward: Of course, of course. Did you ever think of [00:48:00] starting. Look at what you’re doing now.

DeVannon: Yeah. Yeah, I did. I started as called the sex Drugs in Jesus podcast and sex drugs in Jesus, the memoir that is my contribution of transparency to the world, and that’s why I did it. Cause I was like, A lot of my problems might’ve been avoided. I might’ve known that I wasn’t alone , you know, and so, so I tell everything about myself.

I don’t give a damn. I let the whole world know because I mean, if it’s just as simple as feeling, you know, if it’s just as simple as you feeling like you’re not alone from hearing me berate myself with my foolish mistakes, then so be it. Then, honey, I’ll help you save your life, . And so,

Edward: I feel honored that you feel so trusting in me to be able to share what you’re sharing.

DeVannon: Sharing is caring as they say. I don’t, I don’t care too much for cliches most of the time, but I’ll use it right now. So, so, so, so, so it sounds like you get hired by a lot of, like businesses [00:49:00] medical places and things like that, like for your counseling and coaching services. But as you said, caregivers are, or everyone, so can someone reach out to you if they have.

you know, a kid or a friend or a loved one who they feel like they may be overextending themselves even though they’re not a nurse or a medical professional.

Edward: Yes,

DeVannon: Mm-hmm.

Edward: I have on my website how to get in touch with me and, and I do a 30 minute free conversation.

DeVannon: that’s pretty generous. You know, 30 whole minutes . That’s a lot. That’s a lot of time in the coaching world. And so Well, if I, if I had 500 people, I might, I might do it 10 minutes, but I don’t have 500 people.

Well, I’m sure the people you do have love you and appreciate the work you’re doing in their lives. So as we get ready to close, this is pretty much what I wanted to go over today. Thank you for being such a great guest. Were there any last words you [00:50:00] had for the world?

Edward: Just that if you feel the symptoms of compassion fatigue or burnout or your feel, you’re at your wits ends because you’re a caregiver. Know that you can overcome it. I went through burnout 30 years ago, and I was, I was, I’ll use the word saved because of, of a compassionate Jesuit priest who listen to my story and help me regain my inner strength to be who I am.

and I attribute him in saving my life. So if I could be an instrument to help someone save their life, to see who they are and give their gifts to the world, that’s what I’m, I’m committed to do instead of being a couch potato.[00:51:00]

DeVannon: Okay. Well, I’m glad that you are here and not hanging out with Mr. Potatohead. I look forward to hearing about your continued contributions to the world. Thank you so much for joining me today, Dr. Edward Smith.

De’Vannon: Thank you all so much for taking time to listen to the Sex Drugs and Jesus podcast. It really means everything to me. Look, if you love the show, you can find more information and resources at SexDrugsAndJesus.com or wherever you listen to your podcast. Feel free to reach out to me directly at DeVannon@SexDrugsAndJesus.com and on Twitter and Facebook as well.

My name is De’Vannon, and it’s been wonderful being your host today. And just remember that everything is gonna be all right.


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