Mother Teresa walked the streets of Calcutta (and other cities), lending care and aid to “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”* Clara Barton, not only braved the dangers of Civil War battlefields as a nurse and humanitarian (eventually initiating the creation of the American Red Cross), but also fought along with other suffragettes, including friend, Susan B. Anthony, to bring equal rights to women. Like Barton, Florence Nightingale walked the battlefields (during the Crimean War) and fought for better conditions for sick and dying soldiers. Known as the “lady with the lamp,” due to her solitude walks through the sick wards late at night, Nightingale brought kindness and compassion to those in her care.
These great women epitomize the humanitarian call to help those who are sick, poor, or otherwise in need. Their heart for helping others lives on amid those writers I refer to as “Florence Nightingales.” Their impassioned calling to help children, animals, the sick, the disabled, and the impoverished, as well as their work to heal the earth and its resources, drives them to fight injustices and other wrongs to which society has turned a blind eye. For some, their results become the makings of a book, while for others, it’s simply something in their nature residing alongside their other life callings.
This group of writing archetypes, despite its pure heart and noble calling, poses some unusual complications to overcome.
• Nightingales are the symbol of those who would give the shirt off their back to help others. They are there in times of need, not only for family and friends, but also for the unknown, the voiceless, and others who are unable to help themselves. Their tireless giving of self, resources, and time warms our hearts, while also shaming us at times for not being as selfless and compassionate as they are known to be. This call to service is their strength and nobility.
• Nightingales often succumb to illness, chronic pain, disease, depression, or even death, due to taking on too much at one time. By not providing good care for themselves (even less than they might offer to others), they open themselves to poor health by allowing themselves to become run down. Learning when to say “no” may help.
• Due to their giving nature, they are more apt to give away their wares, gifts, and offerings, rather than to ask payment for them, because they want to help others so much. They may even feel their gifts and skills are not worthy of payment, for they are taught their gifts are from God. Yet their endless giving may cause them to end up destitute or deeply in debt themselves, hindering them from helping others to the extent they wish possible.
• Nightingales may undervalue themselves or feel unappreciated if friends or family began to take advantage of their kindness without consideration to the physical cost of their time and effort. They have to beware of becoming victims themselves.
Taking a hint from Whitney Houston’s song Greatest Love of All, Florence Nightingales can gain an understanding that by caring for one's self, said self has more energy and strength from which to give to others. Some may find they need to first take a step back before they can make that leap forward.
With the purest of intentions, they may have given away the bank and may need to take steps to take it back, along with learning how good business practices will advance their efforts, without giving it all away.
View more of the writer archetypes such as the Firefly Catchers.
*Mother Teresa quote per Wikipedia.com
Image Credit: Lady with the Lamp, ©Henrietta Rae, Wikipedia Commons / Library of Congress (Public Domain)