It’s winter in New Zealand and just about every man and his dog has turned up to the clinic with some type of cough, runny nose or sore throat virus. And I’ve been feeling a bit burnt out by it. And I’m sure other doctors are feeling the same. And admittedly, it’s harder to care when we feel burnt out. But recently I met a patient whose wellbeing I just couldn’t help but care about. They’ve had such a hard life and have been dealt such an unfair hand. They reminded me of why it’s important to care- so I reflected on the idea of caring.
Now we are lucky to live in an age where ‘self-care‘ is a well-known concept. And a big part of the idea around caring for yourself, is ensuring that your care for others does not encroach on your own mental well-being.
And I tend to agree with this. But sometimes this narrative of ‘caring for me before I care for others‘ can instead be easily misinterpreted as ‘caring for me and I don’t have the capacity to care for anyone else’. You know, instead of ‘I gotta fill my cup before I can fill anyone else’s’ it becomes ‘I fill my own cup only’.
And to be honest I don’t really have a problem with this either. But I do think we periodically need to be reminded of the power that we hold through caring about others. And while yes, it does cost us to care… and sometimes it does take a toll on our own mental-wellbeing; we must pick and choose the things that we believe are worth caring about.
There are many successful people in the world who got to where they are today because someone cared about them, and showed them that they were worthy of being cared for. Take for example LeBron James. You may know him as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. And if you ask my husband, LeBron IS the greatest basketball player of all time. I’m not into basketball so it doesn’t bother me too much which ever way you look at it. But I became interested in LeBron’s story when we watched the documentary that he was in called ‘More than a Game’. It’s basically about LeBron and his highschool friends, and their basketball journey through their school years. Let me tell you I did not expect to cry at all over a basketball documentary but I cried so much that my eyelids were swollen the next morning and I needed to cover them with an ice-pack for at least an hour.
And the reason why I got so emotional? It’s because you get to see a different side of LeBron in this documentary. Instead of LeBron the great basketball player- you see that he was just a kid moving around from house to house with his mom who had him when she was 16. You see (or eventually learn through other sources too) that it wasn’t until the likes of Frank Walker (football coach) and Dru Joyce (basketball coach) that he eventually started going to school more regularly, enjoyed sports and learned important life lessons and virtues through playing sports. He became the man that he is today, because people cared.
Now, if the potential of someone as great as LeBron James could be unlocked by people who cared, imagine the potential that we can help to bring out of people or patients if we cared for them? If we showed them that they deserved it. If we cared for them even at a much smaller scale. And although they may not turn into celebrities, the impact that we may have on someone simply by caring for them may be much greater than we could ever imagine.