While I can’t write about a lot of what I am experiencing in Clinical Pastoral Education, because it might break HIPAA or could break the confidentiality of the CPE meeting, I can write about what I personally am learning. What has been really hitting me over the past week is how much I need to ask one simple question of all that I do. The question is…
Why did I do that?
I know this question sounds kind of self-focused but it is actually a way of making sure that I am focused on the the patient that I am visiting instead of myself. A lot of chaplain (and ministerial) work is in high stress, unusual or awkward situations. We all have things that make us feel uncomfortable or disturb us and we respond to those situations in different ways. Maybe confrontation gets your goat. Or maybe it is silence. How do you respond to those circumstances? Your response is important and may effect your connection with the person who are supposed to be ministering to.
Anyhow I have begun to ask “why did I do that” of a lot of my responses and actions. Did I say something because I thought it was actually needed by the patient or did I say something just because it made me feel better? Was I intimidated by the pain I saw in the room and therefore I tried to excuse myself from the room as soon as possible? Did the patient remind me of someone I have a hard time with and therefore I changed my behavior with him? Did the silence feel awkward and therefore I said some platitude to make myself feel better? Why did I respond the way I did? Was it about me or about the patient?
When I know why I did something I am able to make sure that I am responding to the person’s needs rather than my own. This is a valuable lesson that I needed to be reminded of.