Patients Who Don’t Ask for Help May Still Need It
Marian Barnick

Marian Barnick

Registered Kinesiologist and Human Movement Specialist


It was my son who pointed out this statement to me. 

The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways.

We were on our way out of the hospital and he stopped to look at a bulletin board with what looked liked hundreds of little pieces of papers and pictures.  Somehow he picked out this one in the midst of all the clutter.  He looked at me and pointed.  No words. 

How profound considering what my son’s been through.

And I think this applies in so many ways to so many people. Not just kids.

As a Kinesiologist and Cancer Movement Therapist I see people who are not always in the best place in their life.  Patients can express their fear, frustration, worry, and pain in many ways.

We all have protective mechanisms.  When we’re vulnerable or scared or hurting, sometimes our best self doesn’t appear.  This can include how we treat others, especially those who are close to us.  Our partners, friends, loved ones can see these protective strategies way more than what we show to total strangers.  

Because we feel safe around our loved ones, we can respond without the filter we use for the outside world.  This can come out with short nasty comments, pushing people away, being sarcastic, the list goes on. 

And as human beings, our defense mechanism when we hear these comments or the sting of sarcasm is to protect ourselves – either by walking away or by responding right back.  But I’m asking you to take a moment.  Take just a second or two before turning away or before responding.  Consider where the yelling or screaming, the confrontation or the attitude may be coming from. 

Let’s Consider Compassion

The word that guides me when I’m evaluating, treating, talking, or listening is compassion.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t get upset by comments or attitudes.  It means that I try to keep those feelings in check because I consider the reasons behind the comments.  And when I consider what my patients may have been through, what they’re going through, and how hard it can be to try and move forward, I have compassion.

Compassion is not pity.  Compassion is being sympathetic and understanding.  Pity is feeling sorry for someone’s pain or suffering.  Pity is about self: it’s how you feel.  It doesn’t put you in a state to help anyone.  Compassion is FOR others.  It’s actionable.  It involves your desire to support and help alleviate the pain you see in others.

If you want to help someone, look past the protective exterior.  Beyond the words and actions, beyond self.  


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