Embracing Our Humanness and Each Other

Posted on September 27th, 2012 by Vidette Todaro-Franceschi

Recently a student came to my office and after closing the door, burst into tears.  She shared that she was going through a personal crisis at home and was having a difficult time focusing in class.  I rode home that evening thinking about the people I have worked with over the years in various health care settings who were having difficulty in their personal lives, but who came to work and tried to function as if all was well.  Indeed, I have done this myself on many occasions.

I have never understood how anyone can expect people to go to school or work each day and leave their personal lives at the door, and how it could ever be expected that we can go home at the end of the day and entirely leave our work at work.  It puzzles me.  Do I hang up my emotions and the feelings that define what and who I am?  How can I do that?  How can I expect my co-workers, my students, the man in the toll booth, the woman behind the register, the child crying at the bus stop, how can I expect all of these people not to feel as they go about their day-to-day living? Why would I want to deny them their humanness?

Nurses and other health care professionals know better. We know that all people suffer from all kinds of things; nurses especially know this because we look at the wholeness of human beings.  Yet, we go to work in places where we do not acknowledge our own personal or professional suffering.

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone acknowledged that human suffering exists everywhere? In a healthy workplace (or educational) environment quality caring is evident when there are opportunities for everyone—coworkers, classmates, staff, etc., to share their concerns in a supportive environment, one that embraces everyone’s humanness.


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2 Responses to “Embracing Our Humanness and Each Other”

Laura FranceschiOctober 17th, 2012 at 9:54 pm

It is true that many in human services are told “leave your emotions out of it,” but I too, struggle with this idea. How could I count myself amongst the “helping professionals” if I leave my emotions at the door. Emotionless helper=oxymoron, and one that I would never choose to be.

It would be great if everyone acknowledged human suffering exists everywhere, but like so many things I think society, people in general, choose instead to turn a blind eye and pretend that it simply does not exist for others. In many this is seen as apathy, we just assume that people do not care. Unfortunately, I think the inverse is true for many of us–we care too much, and in today’s society it becomes overwhelming and ultimately burns us out! Is that apathy? I don’t think so!

Vidette Todaro-FranceschiOctober 18th, 2012 at 12:18 am

Thank you for your comment Laura. At the point that someone is burnt out, they no longer display signs of caring, they truly appear not to care. I do believe that one can peal away the layers and in so doing, open their wounds to healing. But first we have to recognize there is a problem. I too believe that in what you refer to as the “helping professions” which includes teaching, nursing, medicine, social work, psychology, chaplaincy, physical therapy, nutrition and even law (and probably other fields I am missing) burnout often evolves from caring too much in an environment that is not conducive to caring the way we believe we should be caring. But I would ask, are we really “caring too much?” I sincerely hope not. For me its like that idea that one can have too much passion or as in Patch Adam’s case, excessive happiness. I do not believe we have enough passion or happiness in the world. I’d like to see excess of both! What we have to figure out is how we can continue to care the way we do ( and should) in the environments we are working in. That is the challenge.

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