A few days ago I ran into a childhood friend and neighbor, who has a PhD in nursing and taught nursing students for years before her retirement.
We got to talking about my family problems which she was aware of and empathized with mine, and her own family problems, which I had not been aware of. We talked about our mistakes and the abuse others heaped on us unfairly. Then she told me an analogy she had used with a nursing student who had made a mistake in a surgical suite during an operation. The girl was embarrassed and devastated that the doctor had screamed at her. She told my friend that she was going to drop out of the nursing school.
My friend then gave her student this analogy. “What would do you do when you have a bowel movement?” The student looked puzzled and said,” well, I flush it away.” My friend then said to her student. “That’s what you do with mistakes….you flush them away. You don’t keep them around to try to figure out how things could have been different, because pretty soon if you keep concentrating on that BM you will have nothing but a big stink, so you flush it and forget it and go on. Live in the HERE AND NOW. Live in the moment, and not in the past which we can’t change.”
The more I have pondered my friend’s wise advice to her student the more I see the validity of her advice to the student. We all make mistakes, we all make poor choices from time to time, but we need to FLUSH THEM AWAY. Get them out of our lives and live in the here and now. What do we need to do TODAY? What do we need to do this moment? Think about it.
My friend also gave her students an assignment. In nursing we make a “nursing care plan” after we have assessed the patient’s needs, then we make a plan on HOW our patient (with our help) can meet those needs. Some of those needs in patients are very very basic, but others more complex.
She assigned her stressed-out students to make an assessment of their own needs, and how to meet those needs. She said many of them simply wanted MORE SLEEP. They actually needed more sleep but many were single parents juggling school, study, children and maybe even a job. She said her students correctly assessed their own NEEDS, but they fell very short of how to provide for these needs for themselves.
There are many times in life when we put other’s needs before our own. If you are on an airplane the steward will tell you “if the oxygen mask falls down, PUT YOURS ON FIRST…and only THEN attempt to help someone else. If we do not meet our own needs there is no way we can continue indefinitely helping someone else.
It is important that we FLUSH AWAY those things in our life that are past, live in the here and now, and take care of our own basic needs FIRST. We can’t heal without our needs being met.
Like me, and many nurses, my friend had put her family’s needs before her own, though she KNEW this wasn’t healthy but we talked about ways to put ourselves first and I think she is going to concentrate now on taking care of her own needs, flushing those nasty things that she can’t change, and get on with her life in a more healthy way.
Even for professionals we don’t always practice the things we preach to patients. Now it is time to flush away the bad and get on with the good things of meeting our own needs.