Each Shot of Satisfaction is related to one of the seven steps back from burnout in the process of REFLECT. My hope is that, by sharing with you how I apply these steps in my daily life, it will help you on your journey to a fulfilling life of caregiving.
Originally published December 2nd, 2009
This Shot of Satisfaction relates to Step 5 – EVALUATE your results. Recognize what you bring to the encounter. Is your giving care effective? If not, go to step six and begin again.
Look for the good in everyone
“It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.”
–Henry Louis Mencken, A Little Book in C Major, 1916
Forty-five minutes before the end of my night shift, the charge nurse Jeff, approached me with a problem. “I just put a domestic violence case in 24,” he said, “I feel really bad for this woman. She’s going through a nasty break-up and somehow her ex found out where she was staying. This morning, as she was picking up her kids, he rammed her car. I guess it wasn’t the first time the guy did something like this. She already filed a police report. But now she’s complaining of head and neck pain as well as left rib and shoulder pain.”
I felt the pressure. I was exhausted, but Jeff wanted me to find a way to stretch myself a little more, to get in there and help. He genuinely felt bad for the woman. Just then, I was called away on an important matter. I was on the phone when the incoming doctor arrived. As he opened the curtain on 24, I heard him exclaim, “He did it again? I just saw you two weeks ago for the same thing! But it looks like you had a different name back then.” In an instant, the allegedly battered woman was miraculously healed. She got up and walked out the door.
Turns out, she lied. She registered without an I.D. And she almost got away with it. If any other doc showed up that morning to relieve me, or if I had found a way to get into the room before the phone rang, her lie would have gone undetected. What possessed her to get up at the crack of dawn and come to the hospital with such an elaborate story? On her previous visit, the woman saw the same doctor, and left with some pills to help ease her pain. My guess is that she wanted more pills. The question is, “Why?”
Was she in an abusive relationship where her tormentor forced her to get these pills? Was she addicted and looking for a fix? Did she need the pills to sell for cash to put dinner on the table? While we’ll never know which scenario applied, it is clear that she came to the Emergency Department because she had a problem that she could not fix herself. She needed our help.
In our work of helping others, it is easy to see how and why we can become jaded or burned out. Until humanity perfects itself, others will always try to take advantage of our good nature. So what? Who cares? Desperate people do desperate things. We cannot let others make us bitter. We can’t choose what happens to us, but we can make a choice about how we feel and think about those things. We could focus on the bad we see in humanity. We could react and get angry, or frustrated, and let them wreck our day, or we can pause, and choose a different heartfelt response.
When things like this happen, we can take the opportunity to see our own kindness, tolerance and compassion reflected back to us. We can feel good, we can feel satisfied with who we are as people, and with what we do. No doubt, as the holidays move closer, we will all be in this same position over and over again. But if we follow Jeff’s lead and express compassion anyway, we will experience all the joy this season brings.
Make the choice to see the good. Be good, do good, look for the good, and most importantly, feel good!
All the best,