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Reaching One’s Limits

Yesterday a friend from another country informed that he had to withdraw from the presidency of a voluntary aid organisation, which is doing substantial good-will activities for people in difficult social conditions, especially immigrants. I was fascinated by the way they had been doing a great scope of service activities since I came to know about the project some years ago.

The organisation had been created 10 years ago and grown quite a lot since. The founding members, however, who had been committed to the project in the beginning, had dispersed with the time. He had now been the only one who had remained for running the management of the organisation, with several helpers in the activities.

He told me some months ago that it was increasingly difficult for him to keep on running the activities. He wrote now he had tried to cope with all the deficits, to do the work that nobody else wanted to do, but had reached his limits: “We all have had other things more important to do or we have found some reason to avoid it.”

Burnout – even with a lot of good will you have to see and respect the limits of ones forces. Sometimes, however, a phoenix might come out of the ashes.

The news touched me, for I felt how much my friend had been committed to the work and the pain of his decision. It needs courage to say no, when a certain limit is reached, even with a good cause. And even if one work disintegrates or collapses, there is the hope that other people take up the challenge or start something new. You should never fall into the trap of thinking that you are indispensable or that a good activity which exists now will go on forever.

See also the blogpost on “Burnout or Burning” with some thought about compassion fatigue, your the beautiful little booklet by K. Parvathi Kumar”On Change“.

A new tree growing out of the stump of a cut tree.

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