Taking Care of Patients Made Me Less Empathetic
Are you one of those people who feels the feelings of others? Do you get overwhelmed with other people’s “stuff”?
I used to be the same way until I worked in healthcare for a few months. When you work with enough anxious people you learn to take a few steps back from their feelings. My job was to help patients and being pulled into their emotions did not allow me to do my job properly. When I stayed strong and confident I was able to help them more than when I teared up over their struggle.
Have you ever been really stressed out while your friend or family member remained strong? They were a witness to what you were going through so they didn’t experience it as you did. You were able to lean on them while they held you up to help you get through the situation.
That is similar to what it is like to be a healthcare worker. I learned that being the strong pillar was more helpful to my patients than when I joined them in their stress. I was able to have empathy for what they were going through while remaining strong and confident so they were reassured that all was well.
As a parent, you do something similar with your children when they are hurt or stressed out. Seeing the worry in your eyes will make them break down faster than seeing your confidence that everything is okay. They trust in your strength to know they will be okay again soon.
We can’t live and work closely with those who are hurting and continue our own healing if we don’t create loving boundaries around all of the emotions. It is important to keep healing so you can extend a helping hand to those behind you to help them continue forward.
When you are around stressed-out people it is super important to take good care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Eat well, get as much sleep as you need, talk to others, journal, or do whatever helps you blow off some of the emotions you are tempted to take on from others.
There is strength in having the ability to remain above emotions when you are in a crisis situation or helping someone else who is ill or hurt. Just because you have this strength doesn’t mean you have to use it all the time.
When I work with patients I go into “healthcare worker” mode. I have a totally different way of talking and presenting myself so I am able to help patients. We can do the same thing with our emotions and how we care for others.