I think Love is a challenging concept, feeling, practice …. as a nurse.
There are so many layers to love, types of love, ways to love, etc.
But nursing aside, there’s a study that just came out that crystalizes the importance of love in our lives.
A 75-year long Harvard study (Study of Adult Development/Grant & Glueck Study) of around 700 men of all walks of life found that Love was the most important variable in their lives that drove their happiness and fulfillment in life and good health.
“According to George Vaillant, the Harvard psychiatrist who directed the study from 1972 to 2004, there are two foundational elements to this: “One is love. The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.””
That second finding, coping with life in a way that does not push love away, got my attention.
This give and take of finding and accepting love in our lives vs. pushing it away is dependent on how we as individuals cope with life’s complexities, challenges and threats.
What we know about nurses and nursing is that we are at the crossroads of peoples’ life crises and medical/technical science everyday. It can’t help but penetrate our armor that tries to protect our personal feelings and emotions.
We know because of this work and other personal variables that life brings, nurses are more exposed and susceptible to becoming wounded.
Woundedness can happen in nursing, followed by reduced coping capabilities and pushing love away.
So the question I pose to every nurse: Do you know if you are pushing love away?
Life is rich. Relationships are messy and complicated. Quality of relationships rests in connection and the ability to share and relax with each other. And it comes down to our own capacity to process our emotions and stress.
As Valliant says, “If you’re struggling, get a good therapist. Join a support group. Invest in a workshop. Get a grief counselor. Take personal growth seriously so you are available for connection.” This is the secret to a successful career, good health, and love and happiness in your life.
What I’m learning is that it all comes down to love or fear at every turn in life.
“The choice for Love is to let our core essence shine forth. If we cannot make that choice in the moment, then the next choice for love is to accept our human condition as it is and work through another healing cycle or life lesson and gain more self-awareness” (Brennan, 1993).