How To Cope When You Feel You Haven't Done Enough
By Bertha Mukodzani
I am always banging on about how nursing is no walk in the park. Well, it is not! It is an emotional rollercoaster and if you are one like me you probably have had occasions when you have gone home feeling well trodden and helpless. You beat yourself up for not having completed a task or when things have gone wrong either with a colleague or your patient. Losing a patient's dentures, failing to comfort a distressed patient or having a patient, fall or die on you - you name it, it can happen. Whatever the adverse incident, it could leave you reeling for days, sometimes weeks.
A nagging voice enters your head and makes you question your competences, practice as well as your standards. You lie awake at night, tossing and turning wondering what you could have done or said to make a situation better. It happens to the best of us and there are ways of coping should you find yourself in such a predicament.
I have compiled a list of tips for coping on an emotional level should you find yourself haunted with feelings of doubt, guilt and despair.
1) Nursing is a continuous process. If you have not completed a task for your patient it does not mean that you have failed. It means you have done what you can for the patient and it is time for others to take over from where you left off. After all it is our combined effort that produce the best results for our patient.
2) Acknowledge that an adverse incident has occurred, never ignore it. Talk about it with someone in confidence if you have to provided it does not breach an confidentiality laws.
3) Cry if you have to. Crying aids healing. If you are religiously inclined pray about it. I have often experienced a great buoyancy as if a load has been lifted off my shoulders after I have prayed.
4) Forgive yourself and move on when things go wrong because sometimes things do go wrong. Always remember that you are only human and sometimes all you can do is your best.
5) Acknowledge the fact that we are gifted in different areas and that we cannot run the show alone and there is no shame in failing. After all it is only when we fail and make mistakes that we are given the opportunity to learn.
No matter where you work, things are bound to go wrong sometime. As a human being you will make mistakes. You're not there to save the world but to do your best. The most important thing is to learn from your mistakes and grow as a human being as well as a nurse.
The Power Of Vulnerability
By Bertha Mukodzani
Half the time we walk with wide grins on our faces, pretending that everything in our universe is okay or indeed perfect. We laugh out loud at lousy jokes, choose our words carefully, and wear nice clothes. And if you are a woman like me you spend hours at the beauty parlour having your hair fixed and your nails polished.
We may do this because we really care about one another's feelings and about our looks, but sometimes it's because the thought of having a hair out of place or being seen as 'that' terrifies us. Even though our worlds are falling apart, and are far from perfect, we walk with our heads held high, looking people in the eye, convincing them that we have everything under control. But inside we are like a volcano, waiting to erupt.
A little prod on the right spot is all it will take for us to explode, destroying everything in our path. It is when this happens that those around us turn in awe, wondering what the hell happened. They are puzzled why a woman or a man of such a stature and human decorum could snap and lose it like that. Well, I reckon it’s because human beings don't allow themselves to be vulnerable!
For me to understand human vulnerability is to draw from my own life experiences, and perhaps experiences of others. Making yourself vulnerable takes a lot of courage and may be the bravest thing you've ever done. As human beings we want to be accepted for who we are, warts and all. And yet half the time we hesitate to reveal our true selves to another human being. The thought of being rejected or being judged terrifies us we would rather hide than come out in the open.
But being vulnerable implies the opposite. It means loving someone with all your heart even though there is no guarantee that they will love you in return. It’s not being afraid to not be perfect and revealing your true self, warts and all, giving them the choice to fall in love with who you really are and not who you think they want you to be. It’s taking that leap of faith as you go after that which your heart desires.
Vulnerability is being able look someone in the eye, confessing all your deepest fears. Standing in front of someone, admitting your wrongs and asking them to forgive you. You can’t always tell how you will be perceived after that, but it is trusting that they will appreciate your effort and gesture regardless of the outcome.
Have you ever had to shed tears in front of someone? If you're anything like me you probably have. Being vulnerable is crying in front of your pastor, your friend, your wife or indeed your boss without having to worry that they will think any less of you. It's being able to turn to someone admitting that you are hurting, you need help, you can't cope, and that you've had enough. It's letting them see you in your weakest state, and allowing yourself to feel what you feel without fear of being judged or being ridiculed.
I reckon if we all exercised a healthy amount of vulnerability, this world would be a better place. If only we could allow ourselves to be who we are, to feel what we feel, I believe there would be less suicides, abortions, resentment, pride, anger, frustration among other things.
To Err Is Human
By Bertha Mukodzani
"Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or to lose." L.B Johnson.
What is done is done. No one is perfect. We all have flaws. Some more than others. We flounder. We fall. But it is in the way in which we rise that we are truly defined. As trite as that sounds, it is also very true. If you are like me then you've probably made a mistake or two in your life. You've hurt someone, erred in judgement, allowed a situation to drag on unnecessarily, perhaps taken a wrong turn in your journey. Whatever. Then one day it hits you. You realise what you've done. Perhaps, someone alerts you, gives you a little nudge or a kick in the you know what, to make you realise. To open your eyes. You finally come to your senses and realise the extent of your blunders.You messed up! Maybe by this time you've lost friends, family and all that you care about. Then panic, embarrassment, fear and contrition follow. You beat yourself up for it. It is only natural. No one is immune. And then there are those who won't let you forget it. They play on your weakened emotions, reminding you what a complete fool you've been. How wrong you've been. They thrive on your vulnerability and bring you further and further down into the doldrums. But I am here to tell you that it does not have to be like that.
Take a step back. Take time for silence and reflection. Acknowledge that a mistake(s) was made. Embrace the ugliness of the situation if it is that ugly. It is the season you are in. You may even have to bear the consequences. That's okay. With every action comes consequences. Ride the tide with courage and dignity.
We, as humans are not infallible. We are weak and can easily be influenced. We are prone to be led astray by our thoughts, our feelings or indeed by other forces beyond our comprehension. The consequences we have to bear are what grows us. Contribute to our understanding of self, others and the world around us. This way we become better, stronger and wiser beings. But only if we are willing to learn from our mistakes. To bounce back from this setback. Because that is all it is. A setback, though caused by you. Life doesn't have to end because you're having a bad day, a bad week or month.
So if you've ever made a mistake in your life, done something you shouldn't, said something or made a wrong turn, know that it is okay. What is done is done. You cannot undo your wrongs but you can work/improve to put things right. And if it’s too late to put things right, then deal with the consequences with grace and dignity. But most importantly, realise that you too, just like everyone else, deserve a second chance. To wipe the slate clean. Do not allow anyone or your past wrongs to hold you hostage.
Forgive yourself and move on.
How to Fight for Love
By Bertha Mukodzani
I haven’t written about love for a while, so I have decided to throw in a little blog for you today. My daughter calls these love blogs 'fluffy'. Well, who cares? Love makes the world go round, right?
Why won’t he/she hear me? Why is she/he shutting me out? What is happening to us? If you have ever found yourself on the brink of losing the love of your life, then you will know where I am going with this. You know you love him/her and yet for whatever reason, you cannot seem to agree on anything. It appears as if some a vicious worm has penetrated your once solid relationship and all you have left are holes. Holes you cannot seem to fill no matter what you do or say. Have they fallen out of love? You wonder. So, what do you do when that happens? Do you just throw in the towel and hope that one day you will once again stumble upon another amazing love? Or do you stay and fight?
Someone once said, ‘There is value in the valley.’ I am inclined to agree. The reason is that when we find ourselves between a hard place and a rock, true value comes from the ability to sit back and reflect. Truly reflect. No sugar-coating anything. Just being real with yourself as you try to understand and figure out where you went wrong. Once you’ve reflected, it is time to decide what you want. Do you want to fight or are you done? Most importantly, can you live with the result, good or bad? The strength, energy, and skills you will need for this will make you a better person in the end.
This woman I know never knew what fighting for love meant until she met the love of her life. Here she was, nearly losing the man who had opened her eyes and her heart, her best friend. When she came to this place, she began to reflect on the good times. How it had all started.
She had loved him from the moment she laid my eyes on him. When he took her hand and twirled her on the dance floor in a club one night, and for the first time, her heart pounded, and her spirit soared as it had never done before. As he had whispered in her ear, his voice serenading her, her heart had bubbled with joy. Her friends who had watched them from a distance had later told her what they had seen. ‘You are so good together. You look so happy.’ They hadn’t told her what the woman’s gut didn’t already know. She’d had already had an epiphany that she had met the one. If there’s such a thing.
Days, weeks and months followed, and they soon arrived in ‘blissland’. Then life happened. The inevitable, that phase that every relationship goes through came. Her partner became distant and emotionally shut down. The more she chased, the faster he ran. And, the harder she knocked, the tighter the hinge on his door became. They swiftly drifted apart, and there was nothing she could do about it. Or was there?
Then, after she had spent many sleepless nights, she decided enough was enough. She was not going just to roll over and let her love die. So, she fought for her love.
If you’re going to fight, then fight for love. Another cliché I know. But, isn’t it true, though. If you cannot fight to preserve love, what else do you want to fight for? This love, I must emphasise, does not have to be the romantic kind. It can be a friendship. The love between siblings or child and parent. Sometimes these relationships drift apart, and people are left wondering, bewildered and confused. At times, because of pride or miscommunication, the love simply dies down, and people spend the rest of their lives with scars. Scars they cannot get past.
So, how do you fight for love? Well, I reckon, in this kind of war, two crucial ingredients need to be present.
1) Both parties must recognise what they have and what they have to lose.
2) Both parties must be willing to get in the ring because it's a futile attempt to fight for someone who doesn't want you in the first place.
So, I am just going to expand on these two crucial points and break them down the best way I know how.
In the battle of love, you cannot win, unless both of you are on the same team and fighting for the same result. Broach the subject with patience, love, and understanding. If you are going to communicate, then be honest and don’t hold back. Holding back means you are willing your partner to fail. Because, how are they going to know how to proceed if you are not real with them. Let them know where the holes in your relationship are and then give them the chance to fill them up. Be honest about your feelings and thoughts. That way, you are guiding and showing your partner how to love you. They will never know unless you’re honest with them. The truth will hurt but, if you are on the same team, it is easy to ride the tide.
Compassion suggests that you can place yourself in the other’s shoes. Getting to a place of understanding the other person and how your words and actions impact on their ability to love and understand you. When both of you are fighting for the same resolution, you find it to stop each other when you know a line is about to be crossed. You don’t stop them by pointing a finger, but by saying something which shows you’re operating from a place of compassion and understanding.
Trust is earned and built through honest communication. Respect also comes in. So, resist the urge to entertain that negative voice which tells you not to believe anything they say. If you are ever in any doubt, now is the time to ask all the relevant questions. Even if you don’t like what you hear, be willing to tackle it with an open mind. Even if you don’t agree with what they are saying, let them know, but respect their opinion at the same time. After all, we are all individual beings entitled to our opinions according to how we view the world.
It is crucial that you reassure your partner of your devotion, commitment and love. Because you have found yourself in this painful, and uncertain place, the tendency is to entertain doubts. Do they love me at all? You may wonder from time to time. Know and realise that your partner needs to hear those words of reassurance, whatever they are. If it means reminding them why you love them in the first place, then remind them. They need to hear that. It is hard right now, but if they know you love and appreciate them and have no intention of bolting on them, then you will be fine.
Change. Make amends. Do whatever you need to do to improve your relationship/friendship. As you work through your problems, lay your cards on the table. Specify what bothers you. If you both want to see an improvement, then the change should not be too difficult. This change will not happen overnight, so, exercise patience. Give the other person space and time to process everything. Reward positive change but not in a condescending and patronising manner. Show gratitude and be genuine in your thank yous. And when you change, be consistent. You will find that when you do this, nothing will seem like a chore because what you will get in return, will be ten times fold.
You will lose the fight if you don't learn to forgive. Forgive with all your heart and do not keep dragging up the past each time you disagree because you cannot avoid conflict. It's part of life. What matters is how you fight. As you forgive, receive forgiveness, you are developing as a person. You learn to be humble, to love others unconditionally and to be accommodating. Overall, you develop resilience because as you tackle the challenge that comes with dealing with another human being, you discover your strength and other qualities you never knew you had.
And, now, for that all-important ingredient – love. I believe where there is love, real, genuine love, nothing is impossible to tackle. You are not afraid to lay bare your soul and to be vulnerable. It may take a little while, and the process may be emotionally taxing for both of you, but with the love that binds you, you will yield the results that you both want in the end. Talk, yell, cry, throw tantrums, break a cup or two even. If you do it for the right reasons, it will be alright. What you will end up with is a true acceptance of the other person - unconditional love.
By Bertha Mukodzani
"You set yourself free when you forgive." Great quote and I couldn't have said it better myself.
Anger can be a necessary emotion at times. If forces us to reflect and perhaps make some changes for improvement. But anger, if not well managed, is one of those emotions whose consequences are truly destructive. Anger leads to bitterness which is a stronger emotion. Furthermore, when you are angry you have a tendency to spew words without thinking or make rush decisions. Often times the words uttered in anger are words best kept to oneself. Because once words are said, they can never be taken back. They can be forgiven but never taken back. Some decisions made in anger once taken cannot be reversed. These too can leave a lasting dent. A dent that can become impossible to repair in both the one doing the spewing and the person on the receiving end.
Forgiving someone who has wronged you can be the most trying thing one can ever do. More so if the person who has hurt you is unrelenting. They won’t acknowledge your pain and/or show the slightest bit of remorse. When you find yourself in such a quandary, you lie awake at night tossing and turning, your heart racing, and your blood hot and rushing to your face with rage. A part of you wants to squeeze the life out of them. You want to grab hold of them and shake the insensitivity out of them. You curse and wish all the awful things you can imagine for them.
Heaven forbid, should you see them walking down the street, your heart races once again. You muster a frown or look away to prove a point. And when they are out of sight you take a deep breath, feeling pleased and satisfied with yourself. You have indeed shown them just how displeased you are with them. But lo and behold, it doesn't last. It never does. Before long the anger comes rushing back. Your body goes into a frenzy as it slips back into another whirlwind of emotion. Once again your heart starts pounding with rage. Your body begins to experience the same kind of stress all over again. It can be the most tiring experience ever.
But did you know that what you’re doing is putting your body under a great deal of strain moving from one motion to the other in a matter of seconds. Your body has to try and keep up, but the truth of the matter is it can’t. The lack of sleep, the headaches that you experience as your mind rages is incredible. Sooner or later something will have to give. And what usually gives is your own health. When you keep anger bottled up inside, that anger doesn't hurt the person it is directed at. It only hurts YOU! Yes, it hurts the person doing the hating.
Science tells us that anger as a strong emotion triggers that fight and flight response. The body recognises that something isn't right and it releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to help it along. The gut is compromised as the brain shunts blood away from it and towards the muscles as it positions itself for physical attack. Your blood pressure rises, your heart rate soars, sweat oozes out of you and your temperature rises. And if this happens long enough your body gives way. Disease creeps in. Headaches, digestion problems, stress which leads into depression, heart attack, stroke; I could go on and on.
So how do you liberate yourself? How do you get hold of your life once again and give your body a break? The short answer is you forgive. Yes forgive them wholeheartedly. Set yourself free from the pain. It will be hard, especially if no remorse has been shown, but you will be glad you did. Set yourself free. And when you do that you’re taking charge of your life once more. One quote I read says that you take away the power the other person has over you when you forgive them. They can no longer hurt you because their actions no longer affect you. Realise that no one is perfect, and in life you cannot always get what you want. The most important thing is for you to learn to deal with the cards that you’re dealt.
So as hard as it is, release your anger and let it go for good. Forgive those who have wronged you. You don’t have to shake their hand or give them a friendly peck on the cheek. You don’t even have to let them know that you have made the conscious decision to forgive them. Just do it. Forgive and clear your heart of all the clutter. Forgive and move on.
DO YOU WANT TO BEAT DISEASE?
By Bertha Mukodzani
When it comes to disease prevention is always better than cure. However, we can't deny the fact that diseases are here to stay. Our lifestyle choices, our genetic disposition or indeed the climate in which we find ourselves can put us in a precarious position, and before we know it we've succumbed to one disease or another.
There are those diseases that silently creep upon us such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, and then there are the ones that we see coming. However, you don't have to feel completely powerless once disease has manifested itself inside your mind and/or body. Based on my nursing experience, life's experience, people's testimonies as well as drawing from science, I've compiled a list of basic measures that can help you cope, alleviate, reverse some conditions and in some cases 'overcome' or at least improve your overall condition.
1) Know your enemy
How can you go into battle if you don't know what you're dealing with? Knowing how your enemy's fighting strategies does help. Therefore, you will do well to study as much as possible about your condition. When you do so you are empowering yourself which is what you need. Someone once told me that 'knowledge isn't power' but only 'potential power'. Therefore, knowledge will only take you so far. You need to take it a step further if you're going into this battle.
2) Change your mindset
This is a big one. It appeals to your psychological disposition. Your self-esteem, your confidence among other things. No matter what you're facing stay positive. Believe that you will and can get better, and trust that you have enough courage and determination to fight the disease. Have you ever heard of 6 months prognosis stories that turned out to be decades. Doctors do get it wrong sometimes, or could it be the power of positive thinking!Furthermore, negative emotions are bad for your health. Acts such as forgiving keep disease at bay? When you are holding a grudge your body reacts each time you see the person. Your heart races, blood pressure rises as your body prepares for a fight. You put a strain on your brain, your gut and your heart, and this only leads to further deterioration in your condition, therefore, get rid!
3) Surround yourself with positive people
Your environment is as important as what which is within you. Steer clear of negative people. Avoid them like the plague. Their negativity can only aid in your suffering and puts you in danger. If they don't believe you can make it that is their problem, not yours.You may be battling a disease but don't forget to live. Your life is not over yet. Laugh, play, dance and give yourself a break! Remember to let your loved ones look after you too!
There are some basic principles in maintaining good health. Nothing replaces good nutrition, fresh air, adequate rest, exercise, sunshine, drinking water, and so on. You can't expect to beat any disease if you don't look after your physical self. Now is the time to implement all those health principles you've learnt. They are relevant no matter what kind of disease you find yourself battling.Don't forget to do what your doctor tells you. If it's medication follow the prescription and report any side effects immediately. When you feel discouraged appeal to your positive mindset and don't give up!
5) Have faith
The majority of us turn to that greater being when we are tried and tested, and it is our beliefs that can keep us going at times. Pray and practice what you believe for it is your source of strength which is what you need right now.Fighting disease is no mean feat. It requires strength that comes both from within and without when you're at your most vulnerable. With the right kind of disposition and fighting tools I believe anything is possible. And if in the end you succumb to your condition at least you would've fought a good fight and given it your all!