I can remember working a shift that ended at 11:00PM. One of my last patients was a young lady in her thirties. Per the nurse’s notes in the chart, she had come to the ER secondary to complaints of chronic abdominal pain and constipation. After reading that, a barrage of thoughts flooded my brain. “Did this patient come here just to receive narcotic pain medications?” “Is she lying about her pain?” “It’s almost the end of my shift, why did she come here so late at night with a complaint of constipation?”
Almost immediately, my perception of her was distorted. I already had thoughts about the type of person she was when I had not yet exchanged a single word with her. I was seeing her through cloudy lenses.
However, I decided to approach her as I do every patient–with kindness and an open mind. I spoke with her at length and learned a bit about her. It turned out that she was a genuinely warmhearted individual who was going through some difficult times. I tried to figure out what would be the best way to help her. She actually declined any offer of pain medications. All of my initial perceptions were incorrect.
We all encounter people in a host of different locations and situations. So often it is easy to prejudge other individuals without ever giving them an opportunity to express who they are, what they are feeling or what kind of day they are having. Have you ever had the experience of interacting with an unpleasant and impatient cashier at the checkout counter of your local supermarket? I would propose that instead of acting in a similar fashion, you look at that individual through clean lenses. After all, perhaps he has a sick child at home, maybe his car just broke down, or perhaps he doesn’t have enough money to buy dinner for his family. Or perhaps he is just grumpy all the time. In either case, a little kindness on your part can go a long way to brighten that person’s day.
Thus, before you venture out into the world each day, please be sure to clean off your lenses.