“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” – Henry Brooks Adams
During one of my clinical rotations I was assigned to a behavior health clinic. Teaching is one of the most important roles as a nurse, and one of our assignments was to teach “something” to an assigned group of patients. I was assigned to a group of young adolescents who exhibited signs of depression through the act of cutting. Knowing that many of these patients were not actually trying to kill themselves but were merely trying to mimic the physiological changes that occur with the sympathetic nervous system, I knew a standard power point or lecture would have been useless.
I needed to get them engaged and make them feel that fight or flight response through a non-life threatening outlet. In an attempt to imitate the rush felt with the fight or flight response I gave them all an ice cube and instructed them to hold it tightly in their hand until it was completely melted. At first they laughed, but as time went on they began to feel a familiar sensation, the sympathetic nervous system began to kick in. Their breaths became quicker and shallow and their hearts began to beat faster. During this time period we discussed the reasons behind the urge to cut, the way it made them feel during the act, how they felt after, and what they could do to replace the urge. I did the exercise with them, which developed trust, giving them the ability to open up and express their feelings with me. This was a simple, but compelling exercise because it gave them the power to stop without the repercussions of a life threatening scenario.
I was able to create a fun and engaged, but serious, learning environment providing tools that could help deviate from lethal masochistic behaviors. I will never know the true outcome from my teaching, but I am confident I made a positive influence. I can think of so many times that a positive attitude made all the difference between weather I was able to accept a lesson or disregaurd it. What I know today is that my role is to bring the most positive parts of my life experience to others so that they can experience some of the same joys that I do.
Affirmation: I am a teacher, and I will continue to positively influence those around me.
Call to Action: Make a vow to replace a negative action with a positive action in your life. Follow this up with sharing your results with those around you, so they too can make a positive change that will have an affect on life’s eternity.