Thursday, October 22, 2009

a question for all of you

A question for all of you, my kind readers--from where does your spring and supply of compassion originate and continue? What keeps it flowing? What do you do if it runs dry? What do you do when hope becomes a wrinkled, burnt raisin on the vine? tell me please how do YOU maintain compassion.

6 comments:

lesbonurse said...

I work with a lot of very desperate, disenfranchised patients (I'm a nurse practitioner) and when I feel burnt out there are 2 things that keep me going. 1: I remind myself that I am so fucking lucky--not that my life has been super easy or pain-free, but that I have the education and the smarts and the coping skills to be a functional adult. and 2: I like to wave at my patients in the waiting room and smile when I see them sitting there. I'm not kidding, I like when they look happy to see me and it reminds me of how involved I am in so many people's lives. People care whether I'm happy or sad or mean or kind when I interact with them, and that makes me be kinder because I know it affects them.

ang said...

I try to remember that i have compassion for things outside of work: friends, family, animals, community, etc. I find it is easier to revitalize my compassion stock from things not work-related. i try to recognize and be grateful for other people's compassion for me and ponder where i would be without it. like lesbonurse i also try to remind myself how lucky i am compared to my clients and how relatively uncomplicated my life is. i use gallows humor, which can look inappropriate if viewed from the wrong angle but is not actually inappropriate. cheesy as it sounds, i keep little thank you notes from clients in a drawer so that i can look at them again when things are really bad. like my co-worker said today, "I need to go talk to a sane and grateful client now" after she spent a long day dealing with ones who are not so sane and/or grateful for the time and energy we spent trying to resolve their legal problems. when all else fails, i do try to at least plaster something like a smile on my face, and fake it till i make it. make it to the end of the day, out the door, to where the rest of my life is waiting. (i'm assuming you're asking about work-related compassion.)

Att said...

When I'm having problems being compassionate, I think of every time I've taken my partner into the hospital, and how each experience has branded itself into my memory. I know if the nurses were nice, if they were sympathetic and helpful. I also know if the nurses were mean, if they ignored us or treated us like second class citizens. I remember when they listened to my partner moan in agony while her jaw was dislocated, and they did nothing to ease her pain. I think of how helpless I felt, how angry and scared I was when there was no one there to comfort us or give us any insight into what was happening. I never want anyone to feel the way we did in those hospital rooms, scared and abandoned. In any situation, a lack of compassion means someone is going to suffer for it. Why put more suffering on the earth... suffering that is intentional?

Compassion is a complicated thing for me. Having such intimate knowledge of the medical field, as a student AND a patient/patient's significant other, I'm a huge advocate for compassion being supported and celebrated in the workplace. When my partner had jaw surgery, there were some bad nurses, but they were mostly good, and celebrated every small accomplishment and victory in her healing process. They listened to her and addressed her problems as they appeared, even at 3 a.m. Those nurses reminded me of what the healthcare system SHOULD look like.

I'm trying to translate it into work. Even when I feel down, I "turn that frown upside down" by looking forward to something work-related like talking with a great co-worker or snagging a mini chocolate bar from the break room. Little things to make me smile again and try going at the day from a different angle.

tessa said...

my home is not on fire, my piano is in-tune, my favorite book is not lost, my chairs can hold me, i have love in my life, i see trees and birds every day, the sun showed up, i love the taste of acorn squash. i start wherever i can, acknowledging what is right in my world.

the injector said...

thank you all for sharing. it does help to be reminded. i am trying my hardest to replenish the fountain before heading back to work. because, often, there i get dried up and terrified by all the sadness...i will think of the smiles of people, the love of friends, the kindness of birds, the taste of food...all of it. thank you.

Mrs. Basement said...

i have more trouble being compassionate toward myself than my clients.