42 thoughts on “The Shadow Side Of Compassion and Sensitivity”

  1. Hi! the same conjuntion Venus/Neptune in Scorpio in 9th house and I’m always being compassioned for friends and exhusbands, and lost focuss on me, my present and my story…something I have have to work on…thank you for letting me notice this…blessings

  2. Good topic, good point, I just wanted to add that the woman with the drunk boyfriend is not only avoiding everything, she’s also feeling pretty damn saintly about it, which is the pay-off that helps her not to face her situation. As a Pisces, I live with compassion fatigue and have to manage it carefully in my daily life. At the romantic level I have confused loyalty with love several times in the past and have taken a while to realise it and extricate myself from the situation. Conclusion: compassion is a bitch, if you allow it to be!

  3. I worked in a Health Care Profession for several decades.

    I was TOO compassionate…I gave too much, cared too much…

    Ended up feeling burnt out and drained and had to take a break for several years to regroup and replenish my own soul.

  4. I have the opposite problem, I don’t have much compassion at all. I’m learning to fake it (mostly under the umbrella of “being polite”) but I don’t really feel it. *nods* I realize that makes me sound like a grade-A bitch, but them’s the cards. *smiles and shrugs* If anything, the boards are teaching me much about having actual compassion. However, I’m a slow learner on this front. 🙂

    I’ve been aware of this shadow for a while, though. I can see it in others. I’ve also met people who cover their need for control under the guise of compassion, so it can get a bit sticky sometimes.

  5. @SaDiablo: You’re right there, I’ve met many me-me-me attention-junkies who use compassion and exaggerated caring for others (whether the others want it or not) to control the situation and make sure they get the spotlight turned right on them. Like the ‘saintly’ woman with the alkie boyfriend, in fact.

  6. Yes, definitely. This is something I had to address head-on during Saturn in Scorpio.

    Not only does one lose their own identity on the altar of the “cause”…Martyr medals are *heavy* baggage to carry around all of the time.

    I broke one of those cycles last spring. I realized I had been asking for help, but not getting any support in return, and that there was nothing left of me to give. It was the same darn pattern that I kept repeating, and I just had to stop. Right.that.minute.

    It was a stressful time, but I was able to re-establish the relationship, with reasonable boundaries and a bit more reciprocity.

    Let’s hope I can keep it up, and on the flip side–learn to accept help and compassion without getting caught up on the *other* end of the same stick. Neither an enabler or the enabled/hobbled.

    My mantra: I am not a cookie. If there is nothing left of me to give, I can’t take care of anyone else, or you, or myself.

    Taking care of myself FIRST ensures that there will be a vessel of compassion within that may be tapped when it is needed and valid. If I think of my emotional resources as if they were finanacial resources (I know that sounds bad, but it fits with my ‘life lesson’ plan) it becomes easier to see when I am casting my pearls before swine.

    I decided I didn’t want to be a burnt-out shell. I didn’t like what was becoming of all of my other relationships and my own life, as a result of my “loyalty” to one cause. That was enough to make me amputate…which is very, very, very much against my nature.

  7. My former MIL was like this. Exactly. She had major afflictions in Pisces such as being unemployed, very dependent on others for emotional support, dramatic, etc. and had a super NutraSweet personality that acted as a ruse whilst exploiting others’ hardships and projecting them onto herself instead to gain sympathy. For instance, she had 2 grown children with mental illnesses (bipolar, borderline, etc) and she was perpetually bringing up their condition and their problems with complete strangers so she could hear them console HER and even go so far as to take donations/money from others in less fortunate situations! Worst part? While her grown children came to stay with her, she was taking their disability checks in whole as “Room & Board.” Shameless. ( And believe–I was soooo glad to check that South Node drama at the door!) *shudders*

  8. I am at work so can’t listen to this right now, but if there is a shadow side, to my compassion for an ex husband who is alone and broken down, and when I was younger I took in drug addicted and broken down friends, gave them money, shelter whatever they needed at the time…I can’t say I see the shadow. I honestly feel/felt immense suffering for their situation and just could not STAND to see them in their mess. It’s like is a mother who is asked to just sit by while their baby cries, but it’s sitting in dirty diapers and is helpless. That’s how these people are or come to me as. Completely helpless. It does not give me a powerful or ego boost to help them. I honestly FEEL their suffering as IF it WERE me or a helpless baby that NEEDS help. Ok maybe…I NEED to feel NEEDED (Virgo Moon) bingo! Is that selfish?

  9. in my own journey, i have just grasped these lessons too, eixziander, and now i am watching to make sure i walk them out.
    i like the view much better even on difficult days 🙂

  10. Neptune is Scorpio, square Venus, 7th house (relationship). Saturn transit very soon. My guess is I’ll try to find out any excuse to keep hanging on with my Hubby, though I have enough prove that he betrayed me, my trust. His parents are meaest to me. Still I’m with him just for my 2 kids (only excuse) !!

  11. When I was younger I’d always get embroiled in other people’s relationships, ostensibly to “help them.”

    In fact I was replaying out something I’d picked up in childhood (try to make people happy so I can be happy) and just being a general fucking idiot about the whole thing.

    Also–people don’t really care what you say or think about their relationship as a general rule. They are the person living it, not me! So now I have faced up to my own sleep-walking and do my best to mind my own business.

  12. I’ll cop to it. I’ve got neptune in scorp and venus in libra and chiron in pisces. My life has been one of ‘therapist’ without cluing into that until my late 20’s.

    I’ve gone overboard in caring for others to detriment of myself in terms of my health. I would pay more attention to someone else’s needs over my own literally sometimes. I’m not doing it anymore because this is a lesson I’ve failed to learn to date and after ending up on chemo, can’t afford to do this stupid stuff anymore. Also, i’m too kind and giving to everyone, not being able to tell truly who deserves it vs. who is using me. So that’s lesson #2. (wondering if having both sun in scorp AND neptune in scorp + chiron in pisces causes this gullibility about people…)

    Think I have finally learned both lessons solidly. Time will tell though. Right now my health won’t let me decide otherwise anyway so that’s one upside to illness I guess – it decides for me.

  13. One more comment I have to make here. I’ve considered this martyr aspect indepth in the past. Some definitely have that going on. But there are those – like me (we exist you know) – who geniunely care deeply for the well being of others. Looking out for the underdog etc. It’s got zip to do with being a martyr or looking for attention or wanting to stand out. It’s deep caring that’s f’n hard to turn off.

    I’m posting this because currently i’m struggling with this right now and it’s insulting and offensive. If I take the time to focus on a person and try to help them find a doctor, research something etc. to help them, it’s because I care. That’s my time and very limted energy. If I do that and get the martyr thing thrown back it me it hurts.

    Consider Elsa on her work. We know she genuinely cares. I’m the same. Yet the flack others are quick to hurl my way sometimes…it’s enough to make a person STOP all helping. But then we don’t get to live true to ourselves. So how is that fair? It’s not.

    1. This is the reality ST and I lived in. He always had a heart to help others, his caregivers especially. He would stick his neck out for them, give them money, etc.—and then get accused of all kinds of things. I wanted to spit tacks. I wanted to stop helping people altogether, fuck them! But ST could not do that—did not do that til his heart stopped beating. I just hope the people he helped realized how much he cared, actually CARED about them and their families.

  14. ” It’s deep caring that’s f’n hard to turn off.”

    I agree…sorry if my cavalier comment hurts anyone’s feelings. I care very deeply, too. I am unhappy when others are unhappy. I get pain via osmosis…12th House Neptune opposite chart ruler Jupiter in 6th….feels and feels and feels and feels. And then feels some more. 6/12th House axis–serve or suffer, right? I’m still learning what is service and what is circling the drain, myself.

    I absolutely agree, it’s nothing to do with looking for attention or wanting to stand out, not in my case. I am Jupiter ruled. I like to give, period.

  15. I’ve done this before. It was a pattern established early. Eventually, I learned to discern who I *should* help, and who I should not.

  16. @Caribou: “no being able to tell who truly deserves it vs. who is using me”…(((hugs))) *ditto*

    @Kashmiri: I have the “serve of suffer” thing too!
    NN in the 12th and SN in the 6th. (Plus my 12th house Sun) : P

  17. I also have Saturn transiting my Neptune..And I am getting sick of “saving” people..I do care and want to help people. But not 24hours..Of course there is a egoistic “shadow side” to this. But I do want to fight for the underdog!

  18. OMG Elsa,
    That is me, right now, this moment! I will cop to it.I noticed what I was doing, New Year’s Day and have been trying to figure out what MY intention will be for this New Moon.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you

  19. Yes, a few years ago, I definitely was in that situation. Since I had the drive to get a part of my issues resolved, I assumed that other people could. I realized that there is a limit to what I can fix in people’s lives.

    Here’s a question. How does a person know if a person is willing to get their act together or not, given the resources to do so? Are hopeless cases supposed to be ignored, or just taken care of by people who have absolutely no expectations of them?

  20. @Kashmiri and @Dawn – Thank you for understanding. I wasn’t offended by anyone here but wanted to speak out about the martyr perception thing overall. I don’t know how to turn this off so now i’m trying very hard to learn to balance so I get equal time. But man i’m stupid when it comes to this naturally.

  21. How timely this is for me. I just spoke to an alcoholic ex and after a few minutes of listening to him rant and tell me about a near disastrous car accident, I simply ended the phone call. No arguing, no persuading, no concern for his sorry, delusional, busted life. Just – “I’m outta here.”

    Yep, this time I felt not a twinge of compassion or guilt. He gets help or he doesn’t. His call. I’m not a therapist and I can’t cure him.

    I think the healthier we feel the less we want to be around dysfunctional people. Callous – maybe. Or maybe enlightened self-survival.

  22. I belong to a caregivers support group and the one thing that is sooo scary to cop to, in those groups, is the anger I sometimes feel toward the people for whom I have so much compassion. But I always feel better afterward. I always feel more loving when i can tell someone I care about, how much their lot in life, or their attitude, or whatever, pisses me off sometimes.

    And, I am learning something really, really cool too. Some people cannot be touched by my compassion. It’s not a sin to be discerning about this.

  23. Compassion and helping other people wasted a great part of my life. I have a tight Mars-Neptune conjunction, with Jupiter in Pisces squaring it. An endless urge to give, with afterward a hangover, wasted years and forgot to accomplish anything for myself. And then, I do it again. The shadow side, beside all of the lost time and energy, for me is the anger, dissapointment and hurt that no one ever did something like this for me, when I needed help. So maybe it’s strange kind of selfishness because it means you won’t do something for free (when you find out you are waiting for a reward), but the biggest shadow for me is finding out I can help others so well, but that I absolutely can’t help myself. In the end, I am the needy one, and then there is nobody left to help me.

  24. Most Pisces I know give to give, even if they too are in pain. Burnout is an issue. I don’t think any less of someone being kind to someone despite their own pain. They could just wallow on their own, and yet they are trying to help someone they feel compassionate towards. A needy person can still give to another needy person, or share stories. I don’t understand how people complain about broken people who try to be kind, but we can celebrate someone like the late Princess Diana who did the same. They are clearly trying.

  25. too right starkttn.. and Dawn and Kashmiri..with Jupiter Moon conjunct and a Pisces Sun, I give love, support because it’s just who I am.I also receive, without ever expecting it,love and warmth and appreciation. It works. Re Moon and the word “need” I think that Virgo Moon is about an instinct to be of service. I have known so many people who do such kind things for others without sentiment, just because those people are in need of some assistance. It’s not about needing to be needed, it’s about your instinct to serve. Replace need with instinct in terms of the Moonsign..and you might enjoy what you then see. 🙂

  26. I must not be very compassionate. I have a virgo moon. I believe that you must help those incapable of helping themselves….the elderly, children, and the infirm. But I also expect people to help themselves. As they grew older, my kids had more responsibility.

  27. I too, am not compassionate enough. I know how to fake it, and I’m not trying to be malicious when I’m faking compassion. Some people’s problems are just too distant for me and I can’t feel their pain.I can sympathize but without ever really, fully feeling their pain. I’m detached.

    I only have Lilith in Pisces and Neptune is in Capricorn in the 5th, conjunct Uranus.

  28. Hi Elsa and all,
    You did hit a nerve. Right now Saturn just got off my Neptune in Scorpio (Neptune at 9 degrees) and Chiron transiting is conjunct Natal Chiron in Pisces in the 8th house, and Transiting Nodes is South node conjunct my natal Sun.

    I have been laid off as you know.

    I have been sitting here thinking about some childhood wounds, some family wounds, my life path and lesson (north node Virgo) and the best way to approach this. Very fortunate to have a father with five planets in Virgo.

    When I start to get too much Pisces stuff going – I try to flip to the Virgo (when in doubt, clean the house…) – I think you can’t consider Pisces without it’s opposite Virgo or it is too much.

    It gets more interesting in that mom’s south node in Scorpio conjuncts that Neptune of mine.

    I spoke to an astrologer once about all this about 15 years ago (Erin Sullivan) she spoke to me a lot about ancestral wounds.

    Learning about boundaries has been a beautiful thing.

    You discussing the use of avoidance in avoiding your own problems is a bingo for me.

    Both my brothers almost died in childhood, and she had to make sure they lived (really bad asthma, caved in chest, operations, both on steroids) – they are fine now but it was like a constant trial.

    Like I said – you hit a nerve and I have been thinking a lot about this today. The main thing is that it is time to take on my own personal power in the world for my own life, and quit playing the game of avoidance you just mentioned. Bingo…

  29. OH – as far as her lesson -mom’s north node is in Taurus in the 4th house, so it is an interesting thing.

    So my opinion all that Pisces Energy needs healthy doses of Mercury to clear the air. A visual image I like to keep around is a sail-boat.

  30. ‘Burnout’ . . . yup that’s what cured me.

    Empathy. I empathized. My bad habit was emotionalizing for the man in the relationship. I think that told them I cared. Haven’t read the book on that one, so not sure. And it’s over now.

    As far as the commenters who mention common courtesy, I find nothing wrong with that. That shows respect.

    While talking to an associate this week, I mentioned I had the flu. Her response was I’m sure glad I had the flu shot (‘I’ emphasized). My snorky head found it rude. Like when she complains about her pain from the accident, I don’t say I’m sure glad I didn’t break both my legs.

  31. Yes, with one clairification.

    No, I have not had to deal with someone IN a situation like alchoholism, even though I have helped people before they got there. I can disconnect when necessary at an instinctive survival level, but even then seem constantly drawn back to the person in need. I know from the way my mind works as a Scorpio and someone that is very Introverted that down time can be necessary and healing and understand if it works for me it may also work for others. However this is not the case for all people. So maybee some projection happens too. My Scorpio Neptune MC 9th house is close to my Scorpio Venus but not conjoined. In the end for people in my close inside circle of people I protect I DO manage to get them the help they need. For people outside my inner circle there is a risk of this not happening. I always try to do the right thing for those in need, but I also cannot protect the whole world either. It can feel horrible when this happens.

  32. Well, it ain’t pleasant but the shadow side of my less than well seasoned compassion is self destruction. Hit like a bomb today. It did blow the snot out of my head :D.

    Also reviewed some butts I saved who let power go to their heads. That hurts others and so I am in shutdown mode until this pans out. It’s too big an awareness to deal with all in one day. Cancer moon in 8th. Really must stop feeding monsters of self destruction :D.

  33. holy heck yeah. 🙁
    chewing through some ugly faces of that right now.
    thanks for hitting that nail on the head.

    on the plus side, mostly i’m in the phase of finally getting around to doing all that stuff i talked myself out of doing while sacrificing my energy for someone else. but it’s frightening how much i gave up. maybe that’s the real reason i’m so angry. anger at myself tends to be the most potent 😛

  34. i was with an ex husband who was a drug addict/alcoholic/criminal. i do see the shadow side, but i never really thought of it that by staying with him i was trying to be good, i really thought deep down i loved him alot. i was very much in love at the time. he didnt sit around on the couch though, he was very active (probably due to his dominant fire) and was Always out and about. but i see how this was ugly and disgusting. in my case, i really wanted to escape with him, to merge, and be with him all the time.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Scroll to Top