In my effort to simplify how we lead caring, I wanted to look at the pieces and parts of caring consciousness and their mechanisms.
I knew that how we care is grounded in our caring consciousness.
But how is our caring consciousness cultivated? Where does it come from?
Caring consciousness is our integrative awareness of patterns, forces and relationships that exist at the core of our understanding of health, wellbeing and human responses to disease, illness, cure and healing.
This is a lot of elements in one pot, but this is the soup that creates how we care.
As you remember, in school we learned the basics of what health is (more than just being free of illness or injury), what wellbeing is (a state of integration and balance within our mind-body-heart-spirit), and how people respond to disease, illness, cure and healing (from psychology, philosophy & aesthetics).
Along with this objective information that we learn through our education and lifelong learning, our own experiences add to our perceptions and mind-sets that impact our caring consciousness. That’s why and how each of us is so different in how we care.
And that’s why we can’t really base our learning of caring on academics alone. The rest is cultivated through our experiences that automatically thread into our caring consciousness.
I propose the following conceptual equation:
Caring knowledge learned in school and lifelong learning +
Personal Experiences =
Caring Consciousness →
…. impacting our individual level of authentic caring
The subtexts in this equation are the mechanisms at play in our everyday life that impact our life experiences, and lead to ongoing cultivation of our caring consciousness. These are happening subconsciously if we are aware or not…
Here are a few of those daily mechanisms that impact our life experiences and caring consciousness:
- our daily level of self-care
- our relationships and experiential learning with others each day
- the daily swirling of our culture around us (the economy, politics, facebook, etc)
As we reviewed in last week’s blog on Self-Care:
- self-care can be a lot of things, and each activity impacts each of us differently
- nurses’ intentional self-care impacts their caring consciousness
- self-care is always voluntary and personal and can only be motivated and managed by the individual, not by others.
These points make things complicated for nurse leaders whose job it is to “create better caring” environments for patients. We learn quickly that how nurses interact with patients authentically (from deep within) is beyond our direct control.
But beyond all of this, we leaders can impact nurses caring …. by creating experiential learning every day through our use of caring language in ongoing, momentary conversations that tap into each nurse’s caring experiences. Go Ahead ….
Go ahead and talk out-loud and often to individual nurses about their caring experiences,
- ask why they became a nurse
- how are they fulfilling their purpose in nursing
- ask what has been meaningful in their practice today
- ask what patient interaction touched them deeply today
- ask what they do for themselves to help them care for themselves
- share a quick story that shows your caring journey… that makes you real in their eyes
These conversations are consciousness expanding.
Caring potential exists within each nurse; this potential is energized when our sense of purpose is awakened.
Authentic caring is contagious when nurses recognize it within themselves.