By FL, Registered Nurse and Midwife, Australia
I was never all that keen on work. For many years I saw it as a necessary evil and hoped the years until retirement would pass quickly and I could get into a laid back lifestyle that would suit me better. I had been nursing for years, really liked the patients and giving care, but felt burdened by the misery and problems I saw every day amongst patients and staff. How could I help them? I had no real clue. I was just as burned out by the ‘system’ as those that perpetuated it. From my university based training, I learned that I had to do everything right and have all the answers as often as possible, placing me under enormous pressure to be perfect. There was no discussion ever about the way in which I worked or the quality I offered to people when I walked through the door.
A few years ago I started attending the Universal Medicine (UM) clinic and met people who worked there who were incredibly dedicated and interested in their work and this was always the case at any session. I never once felt like they were watching the clock or bored out of their minds by clients. Never once did they appear to have “Monday I have Friday on my mind” syndrome. Instead I felt a steadiness; I could tell they actually understood me and they held a love very solid. Hmmm, how was this possible? Were they superhuman or very good fakes?
I attended UM retreats and workshops to discover exactly how this was possible.
I learned about self-love, choices and responsibility and how that impacts on my interactions with all others, whether I like it or not. I learned about my own state of being and how it is crucial to be aware of where I am at on any given day. I discovered that who I am when I walk through a door into a patient’s room actually affects the vulnerable person in there. So if I go to work stewing over what a colleague has done, then that goes with me into all of my interactions with others. “Oh dear – much to examine here!” I thought. But the best news of all, was that I didn’t have to beat myself up over the past, I could learn and gradually alter the way I was living so those issues did not recreate themselves every day.
I learned to enjoy building the love in me enough so I can actually bring it with me to work and my family. This was an amazing process, where I learned to say “No” for the first time ever and to honour how I felt. I learned that I don’t have to have all the answers for me to be of use; I simply have to be very present and loving when I am with people and let them be. That is enough. I have also noticed that I seem to be able to do my job more efficiently, effectively and safely when I am not wasting energy on trying all the time. I am freer to be more aware of what is going on with my patients, as my brain space is not congested with distractions. This has actually enhanced my performance of my clinical responsibilities, as I am far more alert and focused now. If I have a day at work that doesn’t feel so good, I trace it back to how MY day started…..and it usually makes perfect sense. No-one to blame, just more choices to consider.
I know with my own life now that what I am learning with Universal Medicine is very true as I see it constantly pan out in the world around me. I can see and appreciate how much people respond to me being very present with them. I notice how letting go of judgement of others frees them and reduces the tension between people. Hmmm…those UM practitioners are not superhuman or fakes, I have learned they are people just like me.
To this day, nursing students are not taught to care for themselves first and foremost before equally caring for others. It’s a sad omission from the university-based training and could probably explain the ongoing loss of the nursing workforce. For me, everything has changed. It truly is a joy to go to work now, every day gives me an opportunity to bring more presence and connection to the people I care for and work with. I no longer want to think about retiring when going to work has become such fun!