Caregivers, I live in Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands, WA. We have a lovely little downtown district and the San Juans provide enough natural beauty to last a lifetime. Last Thursday, several of our historical district buildings from the late 1800's which housed 4 businesses and several offices burned to the ground at 4 am. Inspectors from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have arrived to investigate the cause of the fire. Needless to say, the community is in mourning. As I followed throughout the hours until the fire was extinguished, one thought continually surfaced. It is a quote Fred Rogers shared years ago. When he was a child whenever he was frightened by something he witnessed, his mother would address his fear with these words: Look for the helpers. Those words quieted his fear. I looked for the helpers and they arrived. Our Washington State ferries stopped visitor services and ferried firefighters and fire trucks from our surrounding islands - Orcas and Lopez, along with Skagit County fire department. Together with our San Juan Island firefighters they worked to stop the massive fire from devouring more structures on Spring Street, the heart of our town. All reports claim the owners of the buildings and businesses hope to rebuild. There are so many lessons to be embraced at a time like this and each one of us will take from it what we will. I'll stick with the helpers. They came and risked their lives and put their time, skills and talents to the best use possible. They thought of others before they thought about the danger to themselves. They made a difference. Just like all of you. Thank you for the caregiving work you do everyday.
"Much of our suffering comes from wrong perceptions. To remove that hurt, we have to remove our wrong perception." Thich Nhat Hanh (1926-2022)
Caregivers, I read this quote from the man who spent his life sharing his knowledge of love, understanding and compassion. I've never read one of his quotes without feeling he is spot-on. And this quote is no different, especially in regards to our world today. One of the questions I often hear when presenting a training is: how do I deal with someone who disrupts my life and creates drama wherever he goes? Often this question is in relation to the workplace environment. This is happening on a very grand scale today due to the challenges Covid has placed before us. Thich Nhat Hanh, who left us recently at age 95, offers deep listening and loving speech. In other words, communication that is open to empathy and compassion for another. He notes what he suggests is not easy, especially in our Western world where being wrong eats away at our self-esteem and causes shame. When all is said and done, we can't all be right all the time! Enter perceptions. We are masters at perception. We see the world from our own perspective and that usually leads us into trouble. If we are right, can everyone else be wrong? We tend to think so. The pressure we put on ourselves to condemn others for the purpose of being right creates high, high levels of stress, burnout and compassion fatigue. Changing this pattern takes time, effort and commitment to a universal truth - we are interconnected. To understand another is to understand ourselves. And that is worth all the effort.
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