8 episodes

If you feel like a life of service to others shouldn't mean constantly sacrificing your own health, well-being, and relationships, you've come to the right place. Dimple Dhabalia, a seasoned humanitarian and author of "Tell Me My Story–Challenging the Narrative of Service Before Self," has created this limited podcast series to explore the silent struggles faced by many in humanitarian work, diving into topics like vicarious trauma, moral injury, and the healing power of sharing our stories. Each episode brings an insightful discussion with a leader from the humanitarian sector, and explores themes of empathy, resilience, and the balance between serving others and self-care.

"Service Without Sacrifice" is more than a podcast; it's part of a movement to change workplace cultures across the humanitarian sector. Subscribe, share, and join us in challenging the narrative of service before self, and fostering a community where the human aspect of humanitarian work is celebrated and nurtured.

dearhumanitarian.substack.com

Service Without Sacrifice conversations on hope + healing with Dimple Dhabalia

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 9 Ratings

If you feel like a life of service to others shouldn't mean constantly sacrificing your own health, well-being, and relationships, you've come to the right place. Dimple Dhabalia, a seasoned humanitarian and author of "Tell Me My Story–Challenging the Narrative of Service Before Self," has created this limited podcast series to explore the silent struggles faced by many in humanitarian work, diving into topics like vicarious trauma, moral injury, and the healing power of sharing our stories. Each episode brings an insightful discussion with a leader from the humanitarian sector, and explores themes of empathy, resilience, and the balance between serving others and self-care.

"Service Without Sacrifice" is more than a podcast; it's part of a movement to change workplace cultures across the humanitarian sector. Subscribe, share, and join us in challenging the narrative of service before self, and fostering a community where the human aspect of humanitarian work is celebrated and nurtured.

dearhumanitarian.substack.com

    BONUS RECORDING: Service Without Sacrifice—A Humanitarian Manifesto | Excerpted from Tell Me My Story by Dimple D. Dhabalia

    BONUS RECORDING: Service Without Sacrifice—A Humanitarian Manifesto | Excerpted from Tell Me My Story by Dimple D. Dhabalia

    I dedicate “A Humanitarian Manifesto” for the teachers, the healers, the activists, the caregivers, the health-care professionals, the first responders, the public servants, the government workers, the clergy, the journalists, the international aid and development corps, the judges, the lawyers, and all those who work have dedicated their lives to serving others and alleviating pain and suffering in the world.
    I want you to know that I see you, and I appreciate you.
    As we bring this podcast to a close, I want to leave you with one last thought: the work never ends, and at the end of the day everyone—and I mean everyone—is replaceable. We have to choose to prioritize our health and well-being as individuals and as organizations. Doing so is not selfish or unprofessional—it’s an absolute necessity if we want to continue doing the work we love, and that the world needs us to do, now more than ever. 
    My greatest wish is that you begin to create awareness and practice self-compassion to heal your stories and move toward being happier and healthier in your life and work. Remember that the narratives that have shaped us and defined your experiences and actions up to this point, don’t have to be permanent. Through mindful awareness, self-compassion, and agency, you can cultivate the capacity to make new choices that will better serve you, help you to heal, and move forward with greater hope, joy, and connection. 
    Remember, at the heart of the word “humanitarian” is “human.” We can choose to serve others without sacrificing ourselves. Thank you for all that you do, and thank you for your service.
    If you're inspired by this message and want to dive deeper into how to embody service without sacrifice, you can learn more in my book, “Tell Me My Story—Challenging the Narrative of Service Before Self.”  Let's continue to support each other as we challenge outdated narratives and move forward in our journey towards a more compassionate and sustainable approach to serving others without sacrificing ourselves. And please consider sharing this podcast and my book with others who need to hear this message.
    Highlights from the Manifesto:
    * As humanitarians, we face unique challenges and are asked for deep sacrifices. "For generations, we've been conditioned to believe that by choosing a career in service of others, we agree to sacrifice our time, our relationships, our health and well-being, our humanity."
    * The organizations we work for also play a role in ensuring we are able to continue that work in a healthy way. "The organizations through which we serve often choose not to see our humanity. They choose not to acknowledge our trauma. They choose not to help us heal our pain."
    * You are not selfish for taking care of yourself. "To do anything different, to set boundaries, to prioritize self-care, to be less than perfect, is selfish, unprofessional."
    * Global crises like the pandemic have a deep and lasting effect on us. "We, too, like the people we serve, have navigated the challenges of a global pandemic. We, too, endure the traumas of social and racial inequities, subtle acts of exclusion and war."
    * There is a better way for all of us. "We now choose to believe that we deserve more, we deserve better, and we deserve to have our humanity acknowledged and protected."
    * Commit to changing the status quo and create a human-centered approach to service. "As individuals, we commit to taking radical responsibility, to embodying mindful awareness, to redefining self-care, to setting clear boundaries, and to becoming radically human leaders."
    * The only way we’ll succeed in this is through our combined effort, including everyone whose lives are touched by those who serve. "We'll work together to rewrite the longstanding narrative of service before self and shift our collective expectations about what it means to be of service."
    Dimple Dhabalia on the web | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Substack
    Pre-order a cop

    • 7 min
    Part 6 | The Manifesto - Featuring Steve Wiley

    Part 6 | The Manifesto - Featuring Steve Wiley

    We live in a world that doesn’t simply overlook the sacrifices made by those who have dedicated their lives to serving others but often expects it. It's time to challenge outdated narratives of service before self and create workplace cultures steeped in an ethos of empathy, compassion, and self-care. It's time to acknowledge the occupational challenges of mission-driven work, to normalize the need for individuals to prioritize self-care, and to hold organizations accountable for protecting the human beings in their workforce. This manifesto for a new approach is at the heart of my discussion with today’s guest, Steve Wiley, on this final episode of Service Without Sacrifice.
    Steve Wiley is an executive coach and president of CEEK LLC. With a mission to redefine wellness in organizations, Steve dedicates his time to helping companies create human-centered cultures that prioritize the well-being of their employees. Over the course of our conversation we explore the inherent tension faced by many organizations between achieving results and fostering relationships, the importance of brave spaces, and the role of storytelling in addressing trauma within professional settings.
    This was an important conversation that sheds light on the complexities of service, trauma, and resilience and provides practical tools and advice to help leaders and organizations value the humanity of their greatest resource–their people.
    Highlights from the Episode:
    * The world asks us to sacrifice, but we must prioritize self-care and setting boundaries in service-oriented professions: "We've been taught that to do anything different, to set boundaries, to prioritize self-care, to be less than perfect, is selfish. Unprofessional." - Dimple
    * Organizations must acknowledge and support their staff's mental health and well-being: "The organizations through which we serve often choose not to see our humanity. They choose not to acknowledge our trauma. They choose not to help us heal our pain." - Dimple
    * Results are often the only metric an organization looks at, which is to the detriment of the people involved. "One of the primary tensions in organizations is this tension between results and relationships." - Steve
    * Trust is earned and easily broken; once it’s broken, it’s difficult to rebuild. Trust is essential in creating a healthy workplace culture: "We foundationally believe that fear and blame destroy cultures." - Steve
    * One of the best ways organizations can support their employees is to provide a platform for them to care for themselves: "By giving the platform to have the discussions and to empower individuals to care for themselves, empower individuals, as you say, to share their stories, to be OK not being OK, that is very good and helpful to achieve results in the long run." - Steve
    * There is a very real case for prioritizing staff health and well-being, one that has been overlooked in the past: "We believe that it's really good business and that empowers us to be better, to be more productive." - Steve
    * Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools for connection, growth, and healing, especially in challenging workplaces. "There's a real power in actually being able to share our stories with others." - Dimple
    Resources
    Steve Wiley on the web | LinkedIn | Instagram | X(Twitter)
    Navigate Chaos: A 5-Step Guide to Balance Work, Family, and Other Life Priorities by Steve Wiley
    Dimple Dhabalia on the web | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Substack
    Pre-order a copy of Tell Me My Story today!
    Want to support this show and my work? Consider becoming a paid subscriber at dear humanitarian on Substack.
    If you would like to support the launch of Tell Me My Story, you can learn more at rootsintheclouds.com/launchteam.
    Subscribe on Apple | Spotify | Amazon | Google


    Get full access to dear HUMANitarian at dearhumanitarian.substack.com/subscribe

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Part 5 | Sharing - Featuring Dr. Yvonne Ator

    Part 5 | Sharing - Featuring Dr. Yvonne Ator

    Caregivers on the front lines, regardless of their industry or role, face the unique challenge of managing their own fears, anxieties, and trauma while maintaining an unyielding facade of strength and resilience. In Part 5 of Service Without Sacrifice, Dr. Yvonne Ator and I reveal the hidden impact this has on caregivers. As the founder of Thriving Physicians and Thriving Idealists, Dr. Ator has felt and seen the toll this takes on caregivers. Drawing from her personal experiences with compassion fatigue and burnout in the medical sector, she has become an advocate for physician wellness, courageous service, and creating wholehearted cultures in the workplace.
    Together, we explore Part 5 of my new book "Tell Me My Story - Challenging the Narrative of Service Before Self," which focuses on the theme of “sharing.”  In our conversation, we tap into the power of sharing our stories to foster empathy, connection, and healing. We discuss the culture of shame and lack of psychological safety within mission-driven organizations, the importance of self-compassion, and the need to break through the isolation that those working in service of others often face. Humanitarians don’t need superhuman strength. They need healing and connection through sharing. Part 5 highlights include:
    * "Sharing is the culmination of the story healing cycle... It helps us experience a sense of common humanity and reminds us that we're not alone in our suffering." Dimple, from “Tell Me My Story: Challenging the Narrative of Service Before Self”
    * The pressure to uphold a facade of unyielding strength and resilience during times of crisis can be overwhelming. And yet, there seems to be an unspoken expectation that this is how we're supposed to behave in the name of service.
    * Cultures within mission-driven organizations often perpetuate shame and a lack of safety, hindering individuals from acknowledging their own hardships. "These cultures have often looked the other way as we hide parts of ourselves behind masks of perfectionism and silently engage in a game of whose trauma is worse." - Dimple
    * Burnout and compassion fatigue are all too common in humanitarian organizations, and they often remain hidden behind a superhuman mask. "The vulnerability we experience through sharing empowers us to write a better narrative, not only for ourselves but for those we serve and lead." - Dimple
    * Growing up as third culture kids and witnessing disparities in healthcare and social conditions shaped the decision to enter the medical profession. "Seeing people dying from preventable diseases just blew my mind... I wanted to change the world and make a positive impact." - Yvonne
    * The corporatization of healthcare has led to a clash of values, causing moral injury among medical professionals. "You have a set of values that are driving medicine that are very different from the set of values that brought people into the profession." - Yvonne
    * Storytelling and sharing experiences can help healthcare professionals realize they are not alone in their moral injury and burnout. "Sharing those stories is helping people realize that they're not the only ones... the same thing is happening here, and it's happening there." - Yvonne
    Resources:
    Thinking About Quitting Medicine co-authored by Dr. Ator
    Sparked by Jonathan Fields, featuring Dr. Ator’s story
    I Quit by Kunur Bihal, featuring Dr. Ator’s story
    Dr. Yvonne Ator on LinkedIn | Thriving Physicians Website | Facebook Group
    Dimple Dhabalia on the web | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Threads | Substack
    Pre-order a copy of Tell Me My Story today!
    Want to support this show and my work? Consider becoming a paid subscriber at dear humanitarian on Substack.
    If you would like to support the launch of Tell Me My Story, you can learn more at rootsintheclouds.com/launchteam.
    Subscribe onApple |Spotify |Amazon |Google


    Get full access to dear HUMANitarian at dearhumanitarian.substack.com/subscribe

    • 41 min
    Part 4 | Shifting - Featuring Gemma Houldey

    Part 4 | Shifting - Featuring Gemma Houldey

    The world feels heavy these days. Issues go far beyond our little bubble of life to the furthest reaches of the earth: pandemics, global warming, fires, floods, wars . . . it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. As humanitarians, we not only work to alleviate the pain and suffering in the world, but we also have to navigate it for ourselves. In this episode of Service Without Sacrifice, Gemma Houldey and I discuss how we can continue to show up in dark times and do the work the world needs us to do now more than ever.
    Gemma’s work with international NGOs and civil society groups in East Africa and the Middle East allows her to bring unique insight to our conversation about shifting–the act of moving from autopilot reaction to intentional response. We discuss the importance of vulnerability, connection, and empathy and how grief plays a significant role in our shifting process. We also touch on the need for organizations to create brave spaces where individuals can honor their feelings and find support. Join us as we explore the power of shifting, the importance of self-compassion, and the role of grief in our personal and professional lives. Together, we can find hope and light in dark times. Part 4 highlights include:
    * We need to create brave spaces for vulnerability where individuals can connect and honor their personal and collective grief. Gemma emphasizes the need for courageous conversations and intentional practices that allow people to show up with vulnerability and connect with one another.
    * Pausing as a practice in shifting. Dimple talks about how when we think about pausing there’s a feeling that we’re simply stopping, but that in actuality, pausing is a choice.
    * Our work often requires us to carry the grief of the people we serve, and this can be a huge challenge. 
    * Gemma and Dimple discuss societal expectations around productivity and the importance of using our agency to choose to focus on work as a means of avoiding difficult emotions vs. doing so out of habit.
    * Gemma highlights that managers have “a responsibility in setting a good example so that people feel that they can show up in their vulnerability."
    * As we grow up, we’re often conditioned to suppress emotions and push through difficult situations. Society wants us to constantly be productive rather than indulging in emotions. Gemma shares her personal journey of unlearning these patterns, not relying on unhealthy mental crutches, and embracing practices that support emotional well-being. She states, "It takes a while to unlearn that and to sort of remove that conditioning."
    * Dimple talks about how in order to shift, we must take time to pause and practice self-compassion. This pause allows us to reset our nervous systems and operate from a place of intention. Gemma adds, "It means remaining continuously conscious of, “What does Gemma need right now?” and just being okay with that, even if it's sometimes working even more or distracting myself even more."
    * Dimple talks about the power of sharing our stories and creating ritual and practice around empathy and connection.
    * The space between seeing and shifting is the pause. We now have self-awareness and before we can shift into intentional action, we need that pause to collect ourselves and reset our nervous systems so we’re not operating from survival mode, but from a place of intention. Dimple says that even though they know these things, people like her and Gemma doing this work still have to work at this every day. 
    * How can we be carriers of hope when we have difficulty finding it in the first place? The answer is that we work together to create spaces that honor feelings and remind individuals of their shared humanity. Dimple says, "Without hope, how do we keep moving forward and showing up every day?"
    * Gemma highlights that there are markers of privilege around certain practices and interventions, and we need to keep that in mind. There are different needs as we think about

    • 36 min
    Part 3 | Seeing - Featuring Kay Adams and Melissa Palmer

    Part 3 | Seeing - Featuring Kay Adams and Melissa Palmer

    In this fast-paced world, many of us live in a state of autopilot. We are numb, not just to the world, but also, to the signals our bodies are desperately sending us. In Part 3 of Service Without Sacrifice, Kay Adams and Melissa Palmer join me to explore how we can shift from operating on autopilot to a more mindful and intentional way of living.
    Over the course of our conversation we delve into the concept of "seeing" as a way of being: the ability to notice what’s happening as it happens. Kay and Melissa share their experiences in the fields of geriatrics, hospice, palliative care, and mental health and how they found their way back to a more fulfilling and balanced approach to their work despite the challenges and burnout they faced along the way. Join us as we explore the importance of self-compassion, the burden and impact of systemic expectations, and put forward a call to action for organizations to prioritize the well-being of their staff by offering a holistic, human-centered duty of care. Part 3 highlights include:
    * Living and working on autopilot can lead to missed signals from our bodies and default survival reactions, resulting in conflict, stress, and unhealthy patterns. "As human beings living in a fast-paced world, we spend a lot of our time operating on autopilot, often missing the signals our body is sending us to let us know something's wrong."
    * Burnout and moral distress are common challenges faced by individuals in service-oriented roles. "I hit the wall there over and over again... I was burned out when I moved from Minnesota to Colorado, swearing I'd never do it again—and then I did it again."
    * Practicing self-compassion and self-care is essential for breaking old patterns and avoiding burnout. "We have to have self compassion, because for every one step we'll take forward, we're going to take two steps back, we're going to backslide, we're going to find ourselves back in the same pattern again."
    * Creating a culture of connection and belonging in the workplace is crucial for the well-being of employees. "There's a disconnect between the mission of serving all these different types of people and groups and what we're requiring of the people doing the work."
    * Holding sacred space and being present for individuals in need can have a profound impact. "The best time that I ever have when I'm at work is when I can be present in that moment... It's almost a mindfulness practice when I'm doing my therapeutic interventions and listen without judgment, without trying to fix."
    * Organizations must prioritize the well-being of their employees and provide support for their mental health. "We incorporate insight-based learning... If we're not shining a light on that and being open about it, and we keep stuffing it—if it doesn't come out one way, it's going to come out another."

    Resources
    Bedside Witness: Stories of Hope, Healing and Humanity by Kay Adams
    Kay Adams on the web | Facebook | LinkedIn 
    Melissa Palmer on LinkedIn
    Dimple Dhabalia on the web | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Substack
    Pre-order a copy of Tell Me My Story today!
    Want to support this show and my work? Consider becoming a paid subscriber at dear humanitarian on Substack.
    If you would like to support this show and the launch of Tell Me My Story, you can learn more at rootsintheclouds.com/launchteam.
    Subscribe on Apple |Spotify |Amazon |Google


    Get full access to dear HUMANitarian at dearhumanitarian.substack.com/subscribe

    • 50 min
    Part 2 | Surviving - Featuring Kristin Cox

    Part 2 | Surviving - Featuring Kristin Cox

    The things first responders see, the stress they endure, and the hearts they try to mend take a toll. Compartmentalizing is often their strategy, but it’s not a sustainable, long-term solution. In this episode, we focus on Part 2 of my book, “Tell Me My Story - Challenging the Narrative of Service Before Self,” and I’m joined by Kristen Cox, MA, a Behavioral Health Coordinator for the Seattle Fire Department, who has extensive experience in coaching leadership and designing intervention programs. She also happens to be a close friend of mine, someone from whom I have learned many valuable lessons. We discuss why compartmentalizing isn’t sustainable and the impact it has not just on each person but on organizations as a whole. We venture into the responsibility of leaders and companies to create optimal conditions for healing, resilience, and self-compassion. Join us for this powerful conversation, filled with valuable insights and practical strategies to help you navigate the complexities of trauma, resilience, and service. 
    Highlights from the Episode:
    * The term compartmentalizing has long since worked its way into our everyday lives, especially at work. As a coping strategy, it is “a common default reaction” that is worn as a badge of honor, but it’s not one that serves us well in the long term.
    * We tell ourselves stories so we can create meaning out of challenging experiences. These stories go beyond thoughts in our minds; they can activate our sympathetic nervous system. These reactions include “fight, flight, freeze, fix, and fake,” and our brain cannot differentiate between perceived threats and real threats.
    * Compartmentalizing as a coping strategy can completely break down under the crushing pressure of stress and trauma, leading to physical and mental exhaustion. This often causes painful conflicts not just at work, but also, in our personal lives and the relationships that mean the most to us.
    * When a person’s attempt to compartmentalize breaks down, they are often accompanied by shame and stigma. They’re left isolated, disconnected, and wondering what is wrong with them. Rather than trying to hide these feelings, we should normalize them and provide support.
    * Making better choices and healing from trauma is nearly impossible without self-compassion. Self-compassion means you put yourself higher on the list of priorities, recognize the need for self-care and well-being, and actually follow through with it.
    * It will take a cultural shift to create more resilient teams, and it begins with prioritizing the well-being of all humans involved. Leaders need skills to manage stress, conflict, and performance issues, and companies must foster psychological safety, connection, and open promotion of mental health.
    Resources
    Navigating Life’s Sidewalks: A Poetic Reflection on Braking Patterns and Making New Choices by Dimple Dhabalia
    Kristin Cox on LinkedIn
    Dimple Dhabalia on the web | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Threads | Substack
    Pre-order a copy of Tell Me My Story today!
    Want to support this show and my work? Consider becoming a paid subscriber at dear humanitarian on Substack.
    If you would like to support the launch of Tell Me My Story, you can learn more at rootsintheclouds.com/launchteam.
    Subscribe onApple |Spotify |Amazon |Google


    Get full access to dear HUMANitarian at dearhumanitarian.substack.com/subscribe

    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
9 Ratings

9 Ratings

Debbie D, Berkeley, CA ,

Putting the “human” back into humanitarian work

Dimple’s openness about the challenges of staying healthy while serving others can give anyone who is a “helper” important tools to avoid burnout. Too many humanitarians and people in helping professions like the medical field put clients, patients, and the organizations they work for before their own physical and mental health. In each episode, Dimple shows us how examining our own backgrounds and stories can help us bring our full selves to our work and start asking our organizations for the support we need. It’s not easy to do, and yet it’s essential to do for both our own health and for the sustainability of humanitarian work into the future.

Puma One ,

Dimple’s podcast is SO needed in this world!

As a HUMANitarian and social worker, I have found Dimple’s new book and podcast to be enormously beneficial and ground-breaking. I feel so fortunate to have discovered her, and the wisdom and leadership she brings to this work.

AnitainVa ,

Caretakers Caring for Themselves

This podcast serves all the people who are caretakers and need to restore and recover themselves. Love it!

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