When Empathy becomes Exhausting: Three Ways to Prevent Burnout from Empathy

Sitting with someone else’s pain is uncomfortable. Uncertainty about how to manage the emotions attached to absorbing another’s pain is scary.   Empathy can be perceived as the bridge between the sender’s pain and the receiver’s emotions.   Being empathetic is revered as a strength and a skill that can be developed overtime.  While it is important to have empathy, it is equally important to learn to tolerate the emotions of others to help you deal more effectively with their struggles.  Therapists, social workers, case managers and other health care professionals are regularly exposed to pain, suffering, trauma and hopelessness.  We see people at their best and worst.  We have the privilege of being trusted with joys, pains, hopes, losses and successes.   The ability to express empathy for someone experiencing pain, loss or suffering is a key quality needed to be an effective helping professional.  Mindless empathy occurs when we over-identify with someone else’s pain and lose the ability to self-regulate.  This can result in exhaustion or compassion fatigue


The following “in the moment” tips can help prevent burnout from empathy:


Get Centered: Centering means to calm your mind, your emotions and breathing so you can feel more going on around and inside of you.  It is a combination of focused awareness and relaxation.  Practice mindfulness to calm your mind and emotions.  Focus on being an observer of your thoughts and emotions, rather than reacting.  Treat these thoughts and emotions as clouds floating by.  Which draw you in and which make you want to run away?


Know Your Triggers: “Triggers are very personal and different things trigger different people.  We may not have control over our environment, but we do have control over our response to the environment.  Pay attention to people, places and things that increase your anxiety.  Common responses include but are not limited to increased heart rate, heavy breathing, body tension, change in body temperature, gastrointestinal issues or headache.  Click here to download your stress log to track your daily stress levels.


Move from Unconscious Empathy to Conscious Choice:  You can still be a supportive friend, family member, helping professional or colleague without absorbing their emotions and energy.  Making the shift from mindless empathy to mindful empathy can include 4 reflection questions:

What am I responsible for?

What are my clients or loved ones responsible for?

What is in my control?

What is out of my control?



Remember, you can express empathy without feeling exhausted.


We want to hear from you.

What signs do you notice physically, mentally or emotionally that you may be mindlessly empathizing?

What strategies have you used to ensure you are not burning out from mindlessly empathizing?


For more information on conscious empathy, compassion fatigue and burnout; click here to download your free copy of Overcoming Compassion Fatigue: When Helping Hurts.


To Your Self-Care,


Confidentiality 101: Understanding the Basics of Confidentiality Requirements when seeking Counseling

images[7]“Will all the information I share with you in sessions be kept confidential”…is one of the most frequently asked questions when seeking counseling? While the relationship between the clinician and client is the most important factor that determines the client’s success in therapy; it is imperative that the clinician inform clients in the initial session that everything shared in counseling sessions may not be kept confidential. 

Informed Consent

When walking into any new situation, especially a life changing situation, we want to be informed of the risks involved. Informed consent is permission granted in the knowledge of the possible consequences, typically that which is given by a patient to a doctor/clinician for treatment with full knowledge of the possible risks and benefits. In counseling, clinicians are charged with the responsibility of highlighting potential risks associated with counseling, how counseling will be conducted, fee and payment structure, handling of emergency procedures, importance of confidentiality, ensuring clients are aware of their rights as a consumer.

Limits of Confidentiality:

In most cases, your written and signed authorization is required before information concerning your care can be disclosed to individuals outside of the counseling practice, including parents, roommates, friends, faculty, partners and other providers. Below are some of the cases in which the law dictates that your signed authorization may not be required in order for a clinician to release the following information:

  • If the clinician believes that you are likely to harm yourself and/or another person, he or she may take action necessary to protect you or others by contacting law enforcement officers or a physician.
  • If the clinician has cause to believe that a child has been or may be abused or neglected, the clinician is required to make a report to the appropriate state agency.
  • If the clinician has cause to believe that an elderly or disabled person has been or may be abused, neglected, or subject to financial exploitation, the clinician is required to make a report to the appropriate state agency.
  • If your records are requested by a valid subpoena or court order, the clinician must respond.
  • If you are a minor (under the age of 14).

Most people seek counseling in order to get an objective and professional opinion; with the hope of this information being kept confidential. Some clinicians may find themselves in a vulnerable position when attempting to earn their clients trust by ensuring that all information will be kept confidential.  The best way for clinicians to establish trust from the time clients walk through the door is to inform them of the limits of confidentiality in order to allow them to decide how they would like to proceed with treatment.  It is not our role to “catch our clients doing something.” It is our role to inform them of the bounds of our professional relationship.

Sharise Hemby-Nance is a licensed therapist and award winning author with 15 years of experience in in assisting individuals, families and couples with day to day situational issues to those struggling with more pressing mental health illnesses.   For more information on seeking counseling, please contact us at handinhandcounseling.llc@gmail.com.


Are You Afraid of Success? Overcome Your Fears and Begin Thriving


Success is pursued, celebrated and the reason so many of us invest tons of money in education and trainings. With that being said; how can anyone fear success?  Why would anyone fear thriving in their career?  Why would anyone fear living the life they worked so hard to obtain? Why would anyone fear making a difference?  Why would anyone fear leaving behind a legacy as a result of their hard work?  With success comes power and with power comes responsibility. Fear of success is similar to fear of failure. These fears get in the way of you being the best version of you and achieving your goals.  The following are reasons most people fear success:

You consistently spend a lot of time questioning your competence.  It is normal and healthy to have a dose of “humble pie” every once in a while and seek guidance from mentors.  If you find yourself spending a lot of time second guessing every decision you make, second guessing or down playing accomplishments and turning down opportunities that could open more doors for your success; you may fear success.

Self-sabotage:  Creating excuses why we didn’t get something done, telling ourselves mediocre is good enough or believing that huge goal we set is just too big.

Change: “Change or get left behind.” Change is a messy process and you WILL experience this process if you choose to pursue success. Most of us fear the unknown on the other side of change.  Keeping this in mind, there is a huge investment in remaining the same or “being left behind.”  Will I be okay with who I become as a result of my success?  Some fear they will become a “mean spirited” person, develop addictive qualities or lose the qualities that make them unique.  Are you afraid of whom you will become or the results you will achieve (or not achieve)?

Procrastination: Procrastination is a symptom of fear. The only way to overcome this is to feel the fear and do it anyway.

Avoidance: You spend more time talking about your projects than you do completing them.

It’s too hard!  Remember if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.  Your journey to success will be filled with tests.  Without these tests there are no testimonies.  Your journey can and will help someone else.


Ask yourself these questions as you get to the core of your fear of success:

Why are you standing in your way? Past learning experiences often influence our behaviors in the present. What past experiences are holding you back from success?  What do you need to let go of? What have others said to you to discourage you from moving forward?

What does success look like to you? Success is a subjective experience.  Get clear on your goals and define why you are doing this?  Do you want to help other people?  Do you want financial freedom? Begin by identifying a small success. It could be something as simple as making it through the day without second guessing yourself or completing a task.  Stacking small successes will lead to the big successes.

You’ve achieved success, what’s next? You fought through your fears and achieved success. Visualize this scene.  Are you happy? Will you celebrate? Do you feel accomplished?  Will you set more goals?

Success is not an accident, it’s a choice. You will be successful, when you make the decision to get out of your own way and be successful!


I want to hear from you. Have you ever self-sabotaged your success?  How did you get out of your own way in order to be successful?


Sharise Hemby-Nance is a licensed therapist and award winning author with 15 years of experience in individual life coaching and counseling.   For more information or assistance with adjustment and life transitions, please contact me at vitaminchealing@gmail.com.


Overcoming YOU! 8 Powerful Ways of Conquering FEAR

imagesN0IBMQDZFear is one of the few natural emotions. We are born with two fears; the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. All other fears are learned responses brought to the child by its environment and taught to the child by its parents. The purpose of natural fear is to build in a bit of caution. Children who are made to feel that fear is not okay, it is wrong to express it, and in fact, that they shouldn’t even experience it; will have a difficult time appropriately dealing with their fear as adults.  Fear that is continually repressed becomes panic, a very unnatural emotion.  Perhaps, viewing fear through this lens could explain why many of us struggle with conquering our fears.  Facing your fears can be a process and overcoming these fears will happen in its own time.  Fear does not have to be a part of who you are.

Everything you want is on the other side of fear as you traverse through your unique journey to overcoming fear.  YOU are the constant in everything that happens or does not happen in your life.  Oftentimes fear is a huge barrier in making a decision.  How many times have you allowed fear to be the driver while you ride shotgun?  You cannot have faith and fear, you must pick one.

If you choose faith: Check out these 8 powerful ways for getting on the other side of fear:

  1. Identify: Be specific in identifying your fear(s). What are you afraid of? What is wreaking havoc in your life? What pictures are you creating in your mind? Where do you feel the fear in your body? How do you react to the fear? What triggers this fear? Be an observer of what is going on within you!
  2. Journaling: After identifying these fears, get them down on paper. Getting these fears on paper is another strategy of getting this negative energy out. Seeing these fears on paper can help you make sense of them.
  3. Counseling/Coaching: Getting an objective perspective and talking through these fears with a licensed professional is another powerful way to assist you in conquering your fears. A professional can help you examine if you have a fear of success or a fear of failure. While therapy can be powerful and even life changing, make sure the therapist is a good fit for you.
  4. The Now: Be present in the moment. Oftentimes fear comes from past learning experiences and anticipating future failures. You have no control over the past, but you do have control over the present moment. Grounding techniques through breathing is a great way to get back to the present. Try the “4-7-8 Breathing Technique.” Place your tongue behind your teeth. Breathe in quietly for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds.
  5. Gratitude: Instead of ruminating within your fears, spend that time expressing gratitude. What are you grateful for? If you are fearful of public speaking, be grateful for the opportunity to speak in front of people. If you are fearful of taking a test, be grateful that you have the qualifications to take the test.
  6. Awareness: Be aware of your thoughts, daily routines and habits. What are you reading? What are you watching? Who are you spending time around? Some ways to combat your fears are to read on your specific fears, watch a motivation video and/or spend time around successful people. Any successful person has overcome some form of fear.
  7. Nutrition: The food you eat can have a huge impact on how you feel. All the sugars, additives and other chemicals in some foods can have an effect in creating balance in our minds and bodies. Find a balanced diet that works for you and make it a lifestyle
  8. Be a verb: The only way out of your fear is through it. The more time we spend ruminating within the fear, the more power we give it. When we take action, we weaken the fear. Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will! Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Whatever fears you are facing, please remember that YOU are bigger than your fears. Your WHY is bigger than your fears.  Your largest fear carries your greatest growth.  If you are not growing, you are dying.  Do not let fear determine this fate.

“The fears we don’t face become our limits.” Robin Sharma

I would love to hear from you!

What fear is keeping you stuck? What fear(s) have you overcome?


Sharise Hemby-Nance is a licensed therapist and award winning author with 15 years of experience in individual life coaching and counseling.   For more information or assistance with adjustment and life transitions, please contact me at vitaminchealing@gmail.com



Relationship 201: What Constitutes a True Partnership?

Most of us long to be in a happy and healthy relationship. Songs are created about finding and sustaining love. In addition; a day has been dedicated to couples celebrating romance and love.  Dating is fun.  Falling in love, while scary, is also fun.  The “honeymoon phase” of a relationship is fun and blissful.  On the other side of this fun are challenges.  All relationships experience the normal ups and downs and ebbs and flows.  Through my observations, experiences and interviewing; I have learned that being a good partner sustains a relationship.

While there are many components to being a good partner, I have highlighted four that I find to be most impactful:

Give 100%: I often hear people say “a relationship is 50-50.” 50-50 equates to each person giving half the effort.  Can a relationship be successful with each person only giving 50% of their efforts?  Is the person you claim to love worth half of your efforts?  True partnership is giving your all with no reservations.

Selflessness: The ability to place your partner’s needs before your own.  You replace the “I” for the “we.”  When making decisions you are factoring how your decisions will impact your significant other. It is not just about you, it’s about team US.

Don’t hold grudges: Disagreements and even arguments will occur in relationships.  Use the disagreements as an opportunity to gain a better understanding of your partner.  Continue to communicate about the disagreement with each other.  Forgive and move on.  Holding grudges with your partner weakens the relationship.

You play for the same team: When your teammate is having a bad day, offer support, encouragement or give him/her the space needed to recuperate.  A good partner does not down talk their mate to others.  A good partner speaks life and has the uncomfortable, but necessary conversations with their mate.

When you’re in a true partnership you learn and grow together. As my husband says, “you become two halves of one whole genius.”

Now it’s time to hear from you! What makes you a good partner? What do you think it takes to sustain a relationship?


Sharise Hemby-Nance is a licensed therapist and award winning author with 15 years of experience in individual and couples counseling.   For more information or assistance with relationship building or couples packages please contact me at vitaminchealing@gmail.com or visit http://www.hihcounseling.com



Loss vs Life Lesson: 4 Powerful Life Lessons

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” is a famous quote by the legendary Vince Lombardi that encompasses the historical concept of competition. Most, if not all of us, have probably felt a sense of accomplishment, gained more confidence, momentum and motivation as a result of winning.  When discussing the concept of winning, we must remember that winning is short term, but being a winner is long term.  It is impossible to become a winner without experiencing loss. Losing often evokes feelings of defeat, failure, shame, embarrassment and sadness.   Oftentimes we are devastated by the loss and struggle to see the lesson in the loss.  Depending on perception, losing can be humbling or it can become a barrier.  Embracing a loss or a failure on any level is a journey, your unique journey that only YOU can experience.

In my personal and professional experiences with various losses and failures, I have devised 4 lessons to share that have been helpful in my journey. These lessons are not created to invalidate your experience, but to help you put your losses into perspective and make the decision to get unstuck.

  1. Hardships are inevitable and helpful: Life happens on life terms. At times you may find yourself feeling like you are in a boxing match exchanging blows; and then life finally knocks you out. It is not about how hard you get punched or how many times you get knocked out. How many blows can you withstand? How many times can you get back up after taking life’s hardest hit and keep moving forward? Winners take a lot of losses and return to the game of life stronger.
  2. Don’t live in your fears: What would you do if you were not afraid of losing or failing? Oftentimes our decision to do or not do something is based on our fears. Whether you are starting a new job, quitting a job to build a business, running a marathon, moving on from an unhealthy relationship; making the decision to not live in such fears will require risk, struggle and sacrifice. This can be a terrifying step for many of us. Ask yourself if the fear in taking this step is more powerful than missing a life-changing opportunity.
  3. Life is a marathon, not a sprint: Life comes at you fast and it is imperative that you are equipped with the tools to slow life down. After a loss it may take some time to recover, heal and move on. You are building up the endurance to bear this obstacle and prepare for the next obstacle that gets in your way. Embrace this process and take the time needed to reflect on the lesson in this loss.  Remember, it doesn’t matter how slow you go, just don’t stop.
  4. I am in charge of me: You are the captain of your ship, the pilot of your plane and the driver of your car. You are ultimately responsible for the direction in which your life will travel. Seeking validation from others invalidates you and often gets in the way of you taking positive action. I discuss this concept in depth in my book Vitamin C: Healing for the Mind, Body and Soul. I challenge you to live each day being the best version of you. Remember, you are the CEO of YOU.

“When you lose, don’t lose the lesson” ~Dalai Lama

Life is full of lessons. We are free to make choices, but we are not free from the consequences of those choices.

I would love to hear from you. What are some lessons that you have learned as a result of life’s hardships?  Also, what makes you a winner?

Sharise Hemby-Nance is a licensed therapist and award winning author with 15 years of experience in individual life coaching and counseling.   For more information or assistance with adjustment and life transitions, please contact me at vitaminchealing@gmail.com



“I’m too busy!” 4 Ways to turn “Busyness” into Production

“I’m too busy” may be the most overused statement. This statement is often followed by its close relative “I don’t have time.” I am guilty of using both statements! Busyness consumes time and makes time a liability.  Production makes time an asset. Being busy is often incorrectly associated with being productive.  Filling every minute of your day does not equate to high productivity.  It is possible to be productive for 3 hours and be busy for an entire day!

Busyness is creating a lengthy “to do “list and then multi-tasking in an attempt to complete every task on this list. At this point, the tasks are in control of you, you are more likely to cram another task onto the list (after all what’s one more task) and as a result the list does not get completed.  Most of us do not have time to complete a laundry list of tasks in one day and still enjoy life.  After attempting to complete these tasks you may be left feeling exhausted, overwhelmed or unaccomplished.  Production is prioritizing a “must do today list,” being realistic about what you can get done in a day and more importantly being in control of your tasks and your day.

How can you change your focus from being busy to being productive?

The following 4 strategies can be used as guides in assisting you in focusing on production:

Learn to Say No: For those of you who follow my blogs, “saying no” has become a common theme in me assisting you on your personal development journey.  The most productive people are slow to yes, practicing self-control to be certain not to overextend themselves.  The “busy people” consistently say yes quickly, often make impulsive decisions that result in overextension.

Take your time responding to emails (and other social media messages): A good friend of mine and I recently had a conversation about the distractions cause by smart phone notifications alerting us of a new message.  When receiving these notifications, most of us feel compelled to respond immediately.  Imagine starting your day responding to every notification.  You wake up to your phone alarm at 5am and because you have your phone in hand, you begin checking emails and other messages.   Before you know it, it is 7 am and you are still responding to and sending messages.  Find the time of day that works best for you and try to commit to that time span. (I do not recommend waking up to your phone alarm and checking emails before you get out of bed).  Set aside time to check emails and decide whether to “Do, Defer or Delete” the messages.

Make a “MUST GET DONE TODAY LIST:” Trade in your lengthy to do lists for the MUST DO list. MUST is the operative word.  The Must Do list should be no longer than 3-5 items depending on your lifestyle.  The list should not include tasks such as pick up the kids, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking dinner because these are things that you have to do and you are going to do.  Adding such items makes the list lengthy; thus creating busyness.  The Must Do list should include action steps taking you toward an ultimate goal.  For example if your goal is to write a book, an item on your list might include writing 2 pages of the first chapter.  If your goal is to start a business items may include scheduling an appointment with a successful business owner, reading an article on building a successful business and so on.

Learn to Uni-Task: We live in a fast paced society that values multi-tasking.  People are hired and promoted because of their abilities to multi-task.  However, focusing on completing a single task can actually increase your results.  Uni-tasking is not working on one thing for weeks or months until you finish it.  Uni-tasking means that while you are working on a task, work on just that task until it is complete.  If the task is important to you, it deserves your undivided attention.  Click here for my blog on uni-tasking versus multi-tasking.

By no means am I dismissing that being busy can have its merits. One of the major differences between busy people and productive people are busy people consider busyness as a lifestyle, while productive people consider busyness as a season.

Now it’s time to hear from you! What experiences have you had with being busy and/or being productive?


Sharise Hemby-Nance is a licensed therapist and award winning author with 15 years of experience in individual life coaching and counseling. For more information or assistance with time management and stress management, please contact me at vitaminchealing@gmail.com