Nurse Wisdom from the ICU at OHSU (4.5.19)
“Biological mechanisms are pretty complex calling into play many different areas of expertise. What is needed for healing is pretty simple: love No one needs a medical degree or a special kind of knowledge to participate in that kind of healing. In fact what is needed is the humility to look beyond what you think you know and listen to the patient as if their life depends on it because sometimes it does. You need to listen as passionately as you yourself would want to be heard. Don’t assume you already know the answer. Listen before you prescribe. The first duty of love is to listen. Feeling seen and heard has healing properties.”
Sitting in a chair in the corner of an ICU room for 16 days, I have noticed there are some medical professionals that don’t see a patient but a person. There are some medical professionals that don’t see a symptom but a story. There are some medical professionals who don’t see a consultation but a conversation. There are some medical professionals who don’t start with what they know but with a willingness to hear. These are the ones who aren’t medical professionals. They are healers.
People are not problems to be solved but people who deserve to be seen, heard, affirmed and valued. The greatest gift we can give someone is the willingness to enter into their darkness instead of pulling them into our light where we are more comfortable. This involves listening with the same passion that we desire to be heard.
Neuroscience has revealed the part of the brain impacted by trauma begins to heal when people feel heard and understood.
Parker Palmer wrote, “The human soul doesn’t want to be advised, fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed – to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources, the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through.”