I am feeling very distraught today, and not just because my candidate lost. The undeniable division we all knew existed on some level can no longer be denied. It’s right there for all to see and, more importantly, feel.
The late Debbie Ford coined the term “the beach ball effect.” When we try to hold a beach ball underwater, it pops right up – the same is true for any emotion we try to hide. Regardless of your political affiliation, I don’t think anyone can deny that this election has been one of the nastiest, most toxic races we’ve ever experienced. It hasn’t been fueled by logic and reason – it’s been entirely driven by raw emotion.
I’ve noticed my own personal “beach balls” popping up like crazy, and of course I’ve seen them in others, both in my community and all over social media. It would be convenient to say “He or she made me feel this way,” but that’s not the truth. Our candidates simply gave a voice and face to the emotions so many of us feel on some level, but are afraid or don’t know how to express. And, perhaps more importantly, our candidates have exposed the undeniable separation we all feel.
An old friend of mine said, “Humanity has become an inconvenience – like we don’t have time to be civil to one another.” I know from personal and professional experience that this is what happens when we aren’t paying attention to what we are feeling internally. We project our emotions externally, forget our own humanity, and see others as separate.
We don’t see people with different opinions and perspectives. We see democrats and republicans, men and women, rich and poor, etc. We also don’t see the people we serve and work with on a regular basis. We see the patient, the nurse, the resident, etc. It’s so pervasive that we do not fully appreciate just how subtly it creates more separation and limits our ability to connect and serve.
I recently overheard two doctors in the elevators talking about “the patient” multiple times. Without any judgment, I said, “You mean Ms. X is waiting in her room.” They both looked at me and indicated a genuine sense of regret for forgetting they were treating a person. While I remained stunned at the results of our election, I am very hopeful because it’s prompting many of us to “check in” with our own humanity, and to make a conscious effort to pay more attention to how we are presenting ourselves to the world. As Gandhi said, “We must be the change we want to see in the world.”
This is obviously important in all aspects of life, but perhaps even more essential in healthcare. In my book, I advocate for abolishing the word “patient” from our healthcare vocabulary, and for doing our best to bring a greater sense of humanity into our healthcare environment.
Please join me in my effort – together we can change the face of healthcare from the inside-out.