Healthcare and psychology practitioners are facing increasing burnout rates in record numbers, so much so that the American Psychiatric Association focused their 2017 annual conference on the “burnout epidemic.” It has only continued to escalate. The 1,710,000 psychology professionals and 12 million+ healthcare workers in the United States provide an essential service to the population. They heal. They listen. More often than not, they genuinely care. If a chain is only as strong as its weakest link then a community might be similarly threatened by its weaker and more vulnerable members. That's why it helps to remember the importance healers have in our communities.
While I urge healers to take their own medicine and practice self-care (get balance in other areas of life, find support, take breaks, take care of your body, take care of your mind—and spirit), I suspect another contributing factor is the attitude a community has about its healers. Are healers supported, valued and appreciated? Or are they the target of criticism and contempt because insurance plans don't cover something someone needs? Are healers discounted because they are part of a "Western Medicine" and "Big Pharma" giant that is taking money from innocent people and making them sicker?
Is the dominant narrative around medicine consumed with fear, mistrust and resentment?
I observe frightened and angered people every day. People don't know what to trust or who they can count on. Instead, people tend to flock to the Internet and diagnose themselves at an almost compulsive level. Armed with reams of online results and haughty know-it-all and defensive attitudes, more and more people jadedly tell their medical professionals what is wrong with them and what to do. Hopefully, a good practitioner can listen without defense and seek to inform, help and heal in a way that earns trust.
Sometimes, the burden of endlessly soothing defensive people can take a toll. In addition, healthcare workers get exposed to repeated traumas and run the risk of suffering re-traumatization of personal wounds along with vicarious suffering. Long hours and back-to-back one-way relationships add to the burnout. The career is strife for burnout. Greeting disgruntled patients just makes it worse.
If I could wave a magic wand, I would make sure that every person in the community was safe and that the relationship between healer and community member could be restored to one of mutual safety, mutual care, genuine connection, and positive healing outcomes. That both people would leave the interaction feeling lighter, freer, happier, healthier--and grateful.
Joseph Campbell said, "One of our problems today is that we are not acquainted with the literature of the spirit. We're interested in the news of the day and the problems of the hour."
I think he taps into this grander issue. The real healing comes from each person's inner spirit. It is in connecting to the spirit (the heart) that forgiveness and healing emanate. It is where loving and grateful discourse is born. We can do this one person at a time. One heart hug from one person to another. One moment of listening. One moment of respect. One moment of forgiveness.
To my almost 2 million psychology colleagues and 12+ million healthcare workers (and all those around the world) and to every other person around the planet who makes up our Earth community, I send you these Spirit-filled wishes of healing, love, peace, forgiveness, and more. May we each seek to become acquainted with the literature of our—and our bothers' and sisters'—SPIRITS. Perhaps when burnout, illness and discord arise, it can serve as a wake-up call to get re-centered into Spirit and cultivate a spirit-focused interaction.