I'm prepping for tonight's call and it's like a trip down memory lane to look back at the way my young, impressionable mind believed everything I was told to be true in medical school. Just drank it in like a free cup of coffee at Trader Joe's. But now that I am beginning to understand and see the difference between REALITY and THOUGHTS about reality, it's a whole different game. Things have loosened up in my mind, and all of a sudden there's this vast amount of SPACE. It feels ROOMY in there! After a lifetime of jamming my head full of things to remember, and things I believed to be true, all of a sudden, I have more room to move around. This, I sense, is what the word FREEDOM means to me. We are so blessed to live in a country with many freedoms, but the most important place we experience it is in our own minds.
I'm so excited to be chatting it up tonight in a FREE coaching call with medical students, residents, & fellows who are curious about the topic of PHYSICIAN BURNOUT. It's a frequent subject on the blogs, in the New York Times, and in the academic medical journals. Doctors seem to be on the brink of something. While to many others it may seem like a crisis, I find myself getting very excited about this juicy opportunity to share what I've learned from my life coaching practice as well as my personal meditation and yoga practices.
To get your appetites whetted, here's a little sneak peek.
First I'll be talking about our "To Do" lists. We'll zero in on exactly that task that you never talk about - the one you really don't want to do, but find yourself forcing yourself to do anyway, on a regular basis. Chances are, you have a long list of mental rationalizations about why you "have to" do it, why you "should" do it, or why you "can't" do anything else. I love diving into these rationalizations as a way to illustrate how our minds work, how they entangle us in patterns of behavior based on explanations that may or may not be true.
Then, we'll look at the difference between REALITY and THOUGHTS about reality. When we question reality, we suffer. When we question our thoughts, we become free. This is such an important discussion that I thought I'd give you a headstart with some examples, listed below. See if you can come up with any of your own examples from your life. It's essential that the thoughts you work on come from YOU. Notice the difference between REALITY, which is a statement of facts or circumstances that are irrefutable, and THOUGHTS, which are interpretations or value judgments placed on reality.
Reality: I am in medical school.
Thought: Medical school is hard.
Reality: I am a doctor.
Thought: Being a doctor is stressful.
Reality: I am on call tonight.
Thought: I should be getting more sleep.
Reality: I am learning to practice medicine.
Thought: I need to do everything perfectly, or I won't get into the residency or fellowship program I want.
Reality: I work in a system of 3rd party payor reimbursement.
Thought: I should be getting paid more for the work that I do.
Reality: Insurance companies determine what I am paid for certain procedures.
Thought: I should have control over how much I am paid.
Reality: Doctors' reimbursement for certain procedures has declined in recent years.
Thought: Doctors are supposed to earn more money than they are now.
Reality: I am a human being just like my patients.
Thought: I need to be smarter than, stronger than, and more responsible than my patients in order to take care of them and be a good doctor.
Reality: No human being can know all the right answers all of the time.
Thought: Good doctors don't make mistakes.
Reality: I have student loans from going to medical school.
Thought: The only way I'll pay off my debt is by working as a doctor in this system. I have to, I have no choice.
As you look at this list, and come up with your own examples, also notice the content of a typical social conversation you might have with a classmate, coworker, family member, or friend.
- Are you discussing reality, or your thoughts about reality?
- Do you spend your energy arguing with reality by coming up with more layers of thoughts that prove your own beliefs?
If you're like I was when I was in medical school, you might find that the only conversations with classmates are around your collective, self-reinforcing thoughts about reality. The other option might be to escape to the latest bar night, where a temporary, alternate reality is offered in the form of alcohol, noise, and release of repressed emotions. Neither of these really moved the needle for me.
It's up to you. I hope you'll join me tonight on the call! And if you can't make it, please send me a message and I'll email you a recording of the call afterwards.