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Today I ran across the perfect example of a caregiver’s nightmare. It is why I teach the compassionate caregiver’s course. The course is designed to help caregivers build trust and stay in rapport with their patients or clients. And when they do, it helps put their clients at ease while helping them stay resourceful. And in general, no matter what kind of work we do, when we can remain resourceful in difficult situations or environments, we automatically increase our curiosity while decreasing stress.
So based on what I saw today, I imagine a tough situation could go like this. Imagine you are at your six month checkup. You typically have an okay time at your checkup. You are comfortable in the environment and this is important to you because you tend to be more “sensitive” to the energy around you.
You make your way to the next segment of your appointment when you notice a shift. You sense a different energy. The room is different. The person you meet is different. You feel so much energy and so overwhelmed and you wish the world would just take a breath. There is so much activity around you and while you are trying to orientate yourself to the new surroundings and new person the activity is going full steam ahead. What you need is some connection but you notice the person taking care of you also needs something. And as you look at them you notice that they seem tired or wired or something.
Two worlds are colliding now. They sensitive person wants to get the heck out of dodge because they don’t seem to matter. Doesn’t anybody see their discomfort? “Why can’t this person hear what I am saying?”, they ask. It seems the caregiver is interested in the “things” and the results of the task. The sensitive person feels their only choice is to stay and do all they can to get through the next moments. “Maybe this person won’t be here the next time I come…what happened to that nice lady I saw last time?…”
Oh yeah? The caregiver is giving their all. And, by the way, they are tired of people giving them lip service. They are tired of people giving them a hard time when they are just trying to do their job. Can’t people see how hard they are working? When did the patients become so unreasonable? Have they lost their ability to help people?
So here’s the situation. There is one person who is the caregiver and one “in care”, you. You don’t know anything about the caregiver’s job but what you need as a sensitive person in the world is reassurance. And the only person you can turn to is your caregiver. You are feeling more than you are processing or “thinking”.
And for the caregiver, they don’t know your experience. In fact, they don’t know what its like to be sensitive like you. Their experience of your appointment is different. They are used to seeing people all day long in the same situation, same environment. You can’t possibly know how hard their job is or how many people they are expected to see in a day.
How do two people build rapport in this kind of situation? It is hard and unfortunately, in this case, the service is provided by the caregiver and if they can’t seem to bridge the gap for the patient, its going to be seen as their “bad”.
It’s hard being a sensitive person in the world. It’s hard being a caregiver. Imagine not being able to comfort someone in your environment. It would be frustrating and this frustration over time builds into stress and uncertainty. Not all caregivers know how to build rapport and show their love for assisting people through tough times but it is not because they don’t care. They do the best they can with what they know but sometimes it feels like it is not enough.
And this is why I teach compassionate caregiving – so caregivers don’t burn out. During the compassionate caregiving course, people get the opportunity to explore their own reality (map of the world) and level of compassion for themselves. And as they learn about their map and level of compassion, they are building skills that help them elicit other people’s maps, so they can more easily meet people where they are (compassionately) and gain trust through rapport. I believe this makes it easier for them to deal with people who seem more difficult (like the more sensitive person in our story) without taxing the caregiver emotionally.