I do love this question. It strikes at our core.
Once, one of my favorite people, a social worker, said to me, “Patients do exactly what they need to do.” It was one of those spot stopping statements that has stuck.
I remember it every time I sense my judging self creep up.
Did you hear the news story this week where a dad reached out to the kid who was bullying his son. And as it turns out, that kid was being bullied in his life. It has a nice ending.
They say, People who hurt hurt; People who are bullied bully, etc
The Maclaren quote is another statement that pulls my reigns on judgment ….
Of the people we observe or meet, we can rarely know their full story before a judgment flashes; this is especially true of our patients in the short time we know them.
Our minds are always busy sizing people up without our being aware …. unless you are advanced in mindfulness. I am not – yet.
And there’s a reason we go to Automatic Judgment
America is a society based on individualism.
Our culture’s groupthink is: each of us needs to be responsible for ourselves.
We expect every person to be doing his/her best …. the people on the street, our co-workers, and even our patients.
**** The side effect of individualism is …. their best may not meet our expectations. And before you know it, we are judging these individuals for the situation they are in.
That is especially true of patients in all walks of life …. with substance abuse, in traumas, incarcerated, even chronic diseases, etc. ….
With age, reflection and deep gratitude, I know, “… there but for the grace in my life, go I.”
This is my antidote to Individualism
My philosophy is that the nurses and the healthcare system exist to care for humanity—human beings collectively.
We are here to respond to the human condition — all the things that can happen in life and leave humans in vulnerable situations.
When I look at every patient as someone who is experiencing the human condition…. that we are all a part of …. it helps me see the bigger picture.
It helps me see me and the patient in the same picture. And I feel immediately less judgmental.
And I know, again, that everyone is doing the best we can.