Commentary

Cleaning Out Your Emotional Junk Drawer

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Some of the changes I’ve made as a result might seem subtle to an outsider, but they have made a huge difference to me internally—and that seems to reflect onto the people surrounding me.

The biggest complaints I hear from hospitalized patients are that “nobody tells me anything” or “they come in with one leg out the door.” So now I ask for permission to enter the patient’s room. I introduce myself, then ask if it’s OK to sit down with them. This seemingly small action makes such an impact. I began to notice that, in response, patients were thanking me for coming to see them, for listening, and for spending time with them.

The best example I have is a hospitalized patient who had undergone major surgery. She was upset about her care and getting frustrated with staff. I had seen her once before, and when she looked up and saw me at the door of her room, she said, “Oh, let her in! I know she’s really ‘here’ with me.” What a confirmation that this simple change of mindset on my part is helping to make a difference in the care I deliver to my patients!

I realize many of you might be as skeptical as I was when I read the first workshop invitation. You may be thinking, “This won’t help me.” I understand your doubts—I shared them. But that first workshop was so inspiring that I felt compelled to share my experience with others. I believe in the benefits so completely that I pursued training to become a voluntary facilitator. It is indescribable the results I witness in participants. I can only encourage you to give these types of workshops a chance. (If you are uncomfortable about doing a workshop with coworkers in attendance, or just want to do some traveling, workshops are available in many states and different countries.) A simple search for “internalization/externalization workshops” could change your life as much as it did mine!

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