Responsiveness Fatigue

Is this a thing?

Have you heard of it?

No, I haven’t either. Compassion fatigue, yes. Outrage fatigue, yes. But these terms don’t describe what I periodically feel.

I have decided to call this species of ennui: Responsiveness Fatigue. I manage it by allowing myself to completely tune out here and there, when I can. Some do it regularly. It’s called ‘the Weekend’. That’d be your normal person who works nine-to-five Monday-to-Friday and chills out on Saturday and Sunday. But I am not normal.

tree root photo

a wise old tree with vertical roots

My art, therapy, coaching, caring way of life has forgotten what a weekend looks like. I choose to live a not-normal life, which has multiple benefits and generally, I’d rather be ensconced in a quiet frenzy of paint and paper on a wooden dining table than be out on the bright harbour water-skiing.

It’s just that sometimes I require a particular type of downtime, which involves

staring vacantly at a blade of grass dancing in the breeze, or strolling in the park without having to smile or speak nicely.

I daydream and digest the massive amount of input and output a sensitive person needs to process.

I pause.

tree rest photo

a tree with a wonderful sinewy body

I rest and recover from the fine attunement to others that I love to practise and that is part of my professional and personal world.

(And let me emphasise: clients, friends, colleagues, blogfolk, please do not be put off by my declaration of Responsiveness Fatigue. I welcome your presence and contact. I just need to blimp out sometimes).

I share my story in the service of valuing creativity. Creative process is not all Do Do Do. There is fallow time.

There is ebb as well as flow.

ebb flow

ebb and flow

There is a required softening; going inwards; not trying so hard to figure it out. In order to respond subtly, effectively, artfully, ethically, astutely, I need to retreat and give myself permission to shut down. Sometimes I need to not engage. I guess that makes me a classic introvert. Do you resonate with this?

Sydney sandstone

patchy rock textures. Thank you, sacred Sydney sandstone

Sometimes just half an hour of tuning out from everyone and everything revives and replenishes me. It is what makes the difference between illness and health. It fosters sustainability.

I allowed myself to go to one of my favourite spots this week. It was, I guess, an artist date a la The Artist’s Way. I was tired. It’s been a rough ride in the caring department of late. All I knew was that I wanted to walk. After twenty minutes, I noticed my grumbly overwhelm thoughts shift to expansiveness and a spot of wonder.

A shiny red leaf on a rock jumped into my perception. It took my breath away. The words came to me: I am restored.

red leaf nature photo

no smartphone photograph will capture the awe-inspiringly vivid red little leaf which caught my eye and my soul

Hooray for nature, for breathing space, for creative self-care, and for the support and opportunity in my fortunate life to indulge in such replenishment.

I want to check with you – to continue in the vein of restful pausing, are you OK with the occasional word-free blog post?

tree photo

hairy tree


10 thoughts on “Responsiveness Fatigue

  1. Yes, resonates a lot. Like your term responsiveness fatigue. I get sunburn of the soul – emerges when too much out there give outways refilling the well of the soul with peace & quiet , especially dark moon when most likely to get tired. Restful pausing & wordless blog posts sound good.My friend who is a teacher in the Blue Mtns just that minute texted a photo of a little girl in her daycare playing with a silk art piece drawn in my twenties – in my fifties now and haven’t done any for many years but perhaps again sometime.Just sent your link to her.Thanks for inspiration Sally.

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    • You are most welcome, rk, and thank you for the lovely imagery you offer of a little girl playing with the silk art piece you drew. I hope you do get to delve into your creative spirit, or even dabble.
      By the way, I am curious about how people discover my blog. You?


    • You are absolutely right, Belinda. Good point. It’s funny, I feel obliged to write words. Me, the one who got famous (and then unfamous) for Great Housewives of Art and Oh My Goddess! and other books with almost no words. Odd, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I completely relate dear Sally. And this time of year offers so many delights to draw one away from the hubbub and into the sanctity of blossoming. We Need this time alone – it’s not copping out, it’s a crucial part of the Work. And go the wordless posts!! Xxx

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