When Self-Love Leads to An Exit Strategy



Happy Valentine’s Day!

 It’s check-in time!

Compassion fatigue, also known as second-hand shock, vicarious trauma, and secondary stress reaction is different than burnout. Compassion fatigue describes a type of stress that results from helping or wanting to help those who are traumatized or under significant emotional duress.

Professional burnout is a cumulative process marked by emotional exhaustion and withdrawal associated with increased workload and institutional stress, that is NOT trauma related. Burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. Burnout is a gradual process that is the result of ongoing neglect.

Self-care is the deliberate activities you engage in to safeguard your mental, physical, and emotional health. Self-care is about maintaining your well-being, not an occasional special treat.

I’ve talked with and worked with many women who feel overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated in their current position and feel unable to dedicate time and effort to their self-care. Before we introduce or implement a self-care plan, we need to revisit self-love.

Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological, and spiritual growth. The definition may also include paying sufficient attention to one’s own happiness and well-being. According to Psych Central, “self-love is the foundation that allows us to be assertive, set boundaries and create healthy relationships with others, practice self-care, pursue our interests and goals, and feel proud of who we are.”

For every professional woman and social work leader reading this who is experiencing exploitation and exhaustion, we need to develop an exit strategy. If you’re thinking, “well it’s not really that bad”, let’s be real, it actually IS that bad! You’ve suffered long enough – it’s time to show yourself more love and appreciation.

You can exit the experience by advocating for your professional needs, setting new boundaries, adjusting your workload, or you can submit your letter of resignation and exit the job completely (with or without a new job in the pipeline).

You are worthy. You are valuable. You deserve to be well-paid, feel energized by your work, and be appreciated for your many contributions to your employer.

So…what’s it going to be?

Let me know how I can support you on your “next step”.


Nicki Sanders, MSW, ushers high-performing women of color in mid-level social work and human services leadership through promotion to senior leadership. As Founder and CEO of Nicki Sanders Leadership Consulting, her mission is simple – to eliminate toxic workplaces by developing skilled, empathetic, and goal-oriented leaders who have the vision, support, and resources to create a culture where business prospers, and employees thrive individually and collectively. Nicki has an extensive background in nonprofit management leading high-functioning, multi-disciplinary teams. She is an accomplished professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has combined her gift for authentic relationships, Master of Social Work degree, and over 20 years of diverse work experience to create a life and career aligned with her values and purpose. Nicki is a lover of cupcakes, travel, and 80’s hip hop and R&B music.

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