Recently my attention was drawn to something that made me feel very sad. It was an article about bullying in midwifery.
The article quoted a piece of research carried out by the RCM in 1996 saying that of 1,000 midwives and trainee midwives surveyed, from which a reported 46% responded, 43% had experienced bullying. It also referred to a later study done in 2002 by Ball et al looking at why midwives left the profession and it identified managers as bullies.
Because both of these pieces of research happened quite some time ago I thought I’d ask our midwives who teach The Wise Hippo Birthing Programme if they had experienced and/or witnessed bullying. Not very scientific I grant you but I heard back a resounding yes!
It is baffling to us at The Wise Hippo that a profession that is all about supporting women at an emotional and vulnerable time in their lives can attract such a huge amount of bullying.
Sadly we don’t think The Wise Hippo are in any position to change this but on an individual midwife by midwife basis there is some support we can offer. It may not stop the bullying but it may prevent some of the long lasting effects that bullying can have. But before I go on I want to refer you to the article that originally drew my attention to the bullying. There is some really useful stuff in it that will very much complement what I am sharing with you here.
Back to what The Wise Hppo can give you which is a way of protecting yourself emotionally.
The first time I used this particular technique was with a client to help with bullying but it is also a technique that we teach our pregnant clients to help protect them from negative stories about birth. You most likely know the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”. This isn’t actually true, words do hurt. Bullying in the workplace can cause such things as stress, anxiety, panic attacks and trouble sleeping. Overtime it can also cause long term physical effects.
This technique wont stop you being bullied, although by using it you will become confident around the bully so they may turn their attentions elsewhere (at which point you can share this blog with their new victim). It will however help protect you from the emotional harm that a bully can do to you.
It works because it isn’t actually the words that impact on us but the emotions that those words evoke.
Imagine for a moment that you are looking at a picture of a baby. You don’t know anything about the baby it just happens to be a picture you are looking at. Someone comes up to you and comments that the baby is ugly. You may think them mean or rude but you probably aren’t going to be particularly upset by their comment. Now imagine that it is your baby or a baby that is close to you. How do you feel about their comment now?
You see it isn’t words that are important but the importance we put on the words themselves.
This link will give you access to an mp3 that will teach you how to place an invisible Cloak of Protection around yourself. Within it you will have stored all of your strengths, confidence, and skills, anything that makes you feel powerful. Remember it is much harder for someone to bully you when you are in a strong place emotionally so this is going to be a great help.
However, that is not all…
From this place of strength your Cloak will be able to prevent any negative emotional impacts from another person’s words from getting close to you. Before your shift (or any other time you may need it) you will put your Cloak on and instantly notice all of those feelings of strength building up within you.
Don’t look for the feelings instead remember some of the great times you have experienced when listening to the mp3. The Cloak will then shield you from the harsh words or actions from the bully. When they are around you pull your Cloak closer and imagine their words bouncing off of you and preventing the emotions from impacting upon you.
A final word – if you happen to be reading this and you know that you are yourself portraying bullying behaviour please know that this comes from a place of weakness. Listen to the mp3 and make that a starting point for you to restore your self-confidence so that you won’t need to bully others in order to make yourself feel good.