After almost four decades of working as a doctor, and observing both my patients and peers, I am still learning about where most of us camp.
By camping I mean where we hang out; where we craft our individual stories; where we drop our anchors when waves rock our boats (We all developed our own, unique stories of how to approach various problems and reduce the suffering of our patients)
To function above the clavicle is to be intellectual. Some call it logic. Others call it left-brain thinking. Or perhaps evidence-based medicine.
But there are times when we experience a situation, and it changes or perception and awareness forever.
Take for example the statement: “We learn much from our patients” We can hear that and it sinks deep into our intellect. We agree it is true.
But then one day we ask a question such as “What is the worst part of this?” or “What do you think this could be due to?”
I recently had the opportunity to meet with a very kind and caring mother and her child who suffered because of gender-identification issues. Let’s say the mom’s daughter always felt she wanted to be a boy. The mom carried guilt it took her so long to discover this. That was her answer when I asked her what she learned from looking back at her experience and what the worst part of this was.
In this context, what does it mean to move forward? How about agreeing that to stay energized in our careers—to avoid burnout— means to cultivate our ability to grow (Move Forward) ?
It is directly connected to our ability to let our patients teach us.
Why do this?
Isn’t compassion one of the main reasons we decided to enter a career in medicine?
Compassion is cultivated by being more mindful; to be more attending; to grow our becoming-more-awareness muscles.
The journey from the brain to the heart is far more than 12 inches. What will you do about that distance?