8/15/2021 0 Comments
Why is it so hard to rest?
Question: How are you?
Answer: I'm fine.
Question: How are you, really?
Answer: Well actually, I'm exhausted.
The above scenario is not an uncommon one. In speaking to team members, clients and friends, when asking the second question, the response is almost always different than the initial answer. I'm guilty of this myself, especially when the question is asked in the midst of a period of busyness.
While well-intended, the question, "How are you?" tends to elicit a habitual response. In our fast-paced world, we rarely take the time to pause and check in with ourself to see how we are. The follow-up question provides an opportunity to disrupt the automatic response.
After tuning in, many realize that they are tired, exhausted, depleted. When do you take your rest? Do you wait until you are completely exhausted or are forced to rest (illness, injury, etc.)? The natural thought that follows the awareness of depleted energy is a need to get more rest. It sounds simple, but getting the rest we say we want can prove to be challenging.
In exploring why it feels so hard to rest, I did some research and reflection and learned a few interesting things that I wanted to share.
There are many different types of rest.
When you think of rest, what comes to mind? If you're like the majority of the population, you think of sleep, but according to Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD, author and rest expert, there are 7 types of rest: Physical (includes active and passive forms), Mental, Sensory, Creative, Emotional, Social and Spiritual. She says that many of us are "rest-deprived". Noticing what type of rest you need is really important. Keep in mind you may need more than one form of rest depending on what's going on in your life. If you participated in a weekend educational conference that included a series of Zoom calls and online networking, you may need mental, sensory and social rest. That may consist of a day without screens, spending time outdoors in nature alone or with people where the interactions feel restorative and rejuvenating.
Rest will feel out of reach until you address the obstacles in the way.
We tell ourselves that we need rest and almost immediately our mind begins to run a long list of of very convincing reasons for why we can't rest. I spent some time reflecting on my own reasons (otherwise known as excuses) for why I don't allow myself to rest more. Here are the ones that come up most often:
If you're interested in finding more information on rest, check out the following resources:
Hopefully this article gets you to think about the last time you felt truly rested and encourages you to take action to remove your obstacles to rest.
What gets in your way of rest? Share your top challenge with rest in the comments below along with any strategies you've found helpful.
Let's start a radical rest revolution.
I was catching up with a friend and colleague and shared my recent decision to pass on an opportunity to pursue a new project that would require a significant investment of time on top of my usual responsibilities. Little did I know how timely that decision would be.
The impetus for making the decision came from a voice that whispered, “Create space and time to be there for your family.” Normally, I would believe that I could do both - handle all that I already had on my overflowing plate AND support my family. But, on this occasion the message caused me to pause and reconsider the habitual response.
Just a few weeks after that decision was made, my brother died. I was grateful that I had freed up time and space to be able t travel to be with my family and grieve the loss.
This is not the first time that I’ve been glad that I’ve listened to that voice. After entering my rank list for the residency match, while still sitting at the computer, I heard that voice ask, “If you knew you could go anywhere you wanted to go, where would you choose?” My answer was currently sitting at the middle of my list. It didn’t seem to be the logical choice as I was a newly single mother with a five-year old and no family in the area of that residency program. But, I made what at the time seemed like an impulsive decision to move that program up to the number one spot, rationalizing that I wouldn’t match there anyway so what difference would it make.
Fast forward to Match Day. I almost cried when I realized I’d matched to my first choice. Why wasn’t I happy? Because the logical side of me kicked in and shared with me a long list of all the reasons that this was a bad idea. For those of you who know me, you know how it turned out. It was the best decision I could have made at the time and I went on to have a long and successful career as an academician and clinician.
So what is this inner voice? Some people call it your intuition or gut instinct. It’s the sense that you feel when you walk into a room full of tension without anyone having to say a word. It’s the whisper you hear to change direction to avoid danger. Or the gut feeling you have when you meet someone that they’re not who they appear to be.
Your inner voice is the soft, gentle voice that helps to guide you and direct you by sharing wisdom. It is kind and intelligent and has your best interest at heart. It’s a kind of knowing or innate wisdom. It is not the inner critic which tends to be harsh, judgmental and sometimes just plain mean.
It’s helpful to listen to your inner voice as it can serve as an important guide in your life as you’re making decisions, both big and small.
Here are 3 simple steps to start listening to your inner voice:
1. Discern - The first step is simply in learning to hear the voice. There is often so much noise in our world that it drowns out the soft inner voice. When you’re constantly busy, there’s not much time to hear it either. Slow down and create some space in your day for solitude and stillness. It may be first thing in the morning before everyone else is up. Or late at night if you’re a night owl. It may come to you while you’re in the shower, during a drive or while out walking/running. The key is to carve out time for you. This is usually when the voice is more active and can get your attention.
2. Decipher - Once you’ve heard the voice and it has your attention, the next step is to actively listen to the message. What information is the voice sharing with you? It may come in the form of a thought or a feeling. It can also be a sensation in your body, pleasant (gentle warmth flooding your body or chills) or unpleasant (GI discomfort, headache, anxiety) or a change in your behavior, such as disrupted sleep or eating habits. Treat the voice like a dashboard light that has come on in your car. It’s an indicator that’s designed to get your attention and let you know that you may need to check out your engine or oil level. In this case, be curious and see what information the message from your inner voice may be bringing you.
3. Decide — Now that you’ve heard the voice and explored the message, you get to choose what you want to do with the information. Maybe you take action in response to the information or you decide to ignore it. Whatever you decide, be honest with yourself about the reasons or your decision and commit to it. You can always make a new decision when you have more information.
Set an intention to listen for your inner voice. It’s a practice - learning how to tune inward when there is so much in the outer world calling for your attention takes time and skill. Remember to focus on the progress you’re making and don’t expect perfection.
What helps you to hear your inner voice? Share in the comments below or send me a private message to let me know, firstname.lastname@example.org.
8/1/2021 0 Comments
Letting Go of Perfectionism
Do you hold yourself to high standards for everything? If so, you’re not alone. Most high achievers strive for perfection.
But what if inflexible standards are slowing you down and holding you back?
There’s evidence that constant perfectionism can get in the way of a happy and productive life. It’s connected to procrastination, low productivity, and depression.
More often than not, continual high standards aren’t needed for us to succeed in life. Think about people like Einstein, Oprah, Walt Disney and Bill Gates. These famously accomplished people have reported that they owe their achievements to their unstoppable nature and willingness to make mistakes.
The secret is to recognize when high standards are necessary and when they actually get in the way of innovation, efficiency and fulfillment. Getting to the place of good enough on most tasks and projects allows us to get more done without compromising quality. This open minded approach allows for creativity, innovation and fun.
Freedom from perfection starts with flexibility, compassion and faith in self. Remember that you are good enough as you are. You are intrinsically valuable.
The next time you notice that you’re driving yourself hard, procrastinating on projects or tasks, or feeling self critical about your accomplishments, ask yourself:
“Am I holding myself to standards that aren’t needed in these circumstances?”
“What would good enough look and feel like?”
Breathe. Open up your heart and mind. Think flexibly about your project or task and let your standards relax. Try the “good enough approach” for your day to day tasks and reserve your high standards for rare and special circumstances. You’ll not only get more done, you’ll also feel motivated to do more!
While reading an email from one of my favorite YouTube bloggers, I was struck by the question he had been reflecting on to determine whether he would continue with the successful online business he'd created or call it quits.
It made me pause to think about what my own answer would be. As a physician who is now thriving in a second career, it seemed like a relevant question for all physicians to ask themselves, no matter what stage of career they're in.
When it comes to your career and the work you are currently doing, "are you doing it because you want to or because you feel like you have to?"
The road to becoming a physician is long and arduous and most don't enter the profession on a whim. There is a huge up front investment of time, money, and energy (physical, emotional and mental) not to mention the often negative impact on relationships with family and friends.
We often have an idea, well, really a dream, of what life will be like once we reach the light at the end of the tunnel. We believe with all our heart that the sacrifices will have been worth it. Unfortunately, expectations don't match reality.
With that said, the majority of physicians I've talked to say that they would do it all over again. I am also in that camp.
I have no regrets about the career choice that I made. I feel honored to have had the privilege to serve so many families; to advocate and care for numerous children and young adults: to encourage, teach and mentor generations of future doctors; and to support and advise more residents, fellows and colleagues than I can count.
In reflecting more on the question, I think one belief we have that doesn't serve us is that after we complete our training, we must find a job, "the right job", and stay there until retirement.
Many physicians are young adults when they embark upon their career journey. Life brings many changes from the point of entry into medicine until the time of retirement. Priorities, responsibilities, health and other circumstances morph throughout the various stages of life. Why then do we believe that the work that we do would not change as well?
For physicians, clinical practice continues to be the traditional path that the majority of physicians choose. However, there are multiple ways to serve and contribute to the health and well-being of the community. There are numerous opportunities to find career fulfillment in clinical and non-clinical positions. And don't forget that the two are not mutually exclusive. Prior to my retirement from clinical practice, I created a career that included non-clinical work that allowed me to speak, teach and coach. The skills I learned from the non-clinical work also helped me to improve upon my clinical work.
So if you're looking for ways to boost your sense of career fulfillment, consider the following suggestions:
As you think about your current position, as yourself the question. If your answer is you're doing it because you feel you have to, explore some of the suggestions above.
So, how would you answer the question? Let me know in the comments below.
And if you want to brainstorm additional ideas and strategies, reach out to me via email, Michelle@drmichellebailey.com.
Image credit: Depositphotos
"I'm so sorry to bother you...I know how busy you are."
If you're like most physicians and busy professionals, you may be hearing this phrase preface the request or invitation that is about to follow.
It's become common to wear busyness as a badge of honor. Taking on new responsibilities and tasks without letting go of current ones is not a sustainable practice, especially when you find yourself struggling to get in basic self care like eating nourishing meals, exercising consistently and getting enough sleep (quality and quantity).
The constant deluge of email, voicemail, professional and personal tasks quickly add up and become a recipe for busyness. It’s inevitable…at some point in the pursuit of your passions, goals and dreams, you’re going to get tired, frustrated and completely overwhelmed. And in some cases, you'll want to just throw your hands in the air (or curl up under the covers) and raise the white flag of surrender.
So what do you do when you find yourself in the land of overwhelm?
If you find yourself there, know that you are not alone. We all end up there from time to time. The key is recognizing when you’re there so you can take action to get out sooner rather than later.
Here are 3 simple strategies to help you regain your footing and see your way out.
1. Gain Clarity
2. Examine your expectations
3. Practice making front-end decisions
Everyone faces frustration, overwhelm and exhaustion. How you handle yours determines the way you feel as you do your work in the world, and ultimately how you live your life.
What helps you to get out of overwhelm?
7/11/2021 0 Comments
The Power of Community
My family and I have been overwhelmed by the generous outpouring of support received in response to the passing of my brother.
This reminded me of the power of community in helping us navigate major life challenges and changes, both personally and professionally.
These communities can be in-person or virtual and may last for a season or over a longer period of time.
In thinking about the communities I've had the opportunity to facilitate - past and present - the most successful ones have several elements in common.
Creating safe space where people can feel free to be themselves is extremely important in community. At times where we are most vulnerable, this level of safety can allow you to explore thoughts, feelings and actions that lead to valuable insights and clarity.
This goes hand in hand with safety. It relates not only to trusting the individuals that make up the community, but also trusting in the process of giving and receiving that occurs.
The most powerful communities have an agreement of "Vegas rules". What is shared within the group, stays within the group. Most breaches of confidentiality occur without malicious intent, but yet may still unintentionally cause harm. Self-disclosure is allowed. Don't disclose for others.
It's rare to find spaces where you are not judged or judging. In a supportive community, judgment is suspended. This doesn't mean that judgmental thoughts may not arise. The judge is typically the most active part of our mind and many of these thoughts occur unconsciously, With practice and awareness, you can begin to notice when these thoughts are present and consciously choose not to act from a place of judgment. This is not faking it either. People can feel the intent that fuels your words and actions.
There are often events or circumstances that bond us together as a community. Whether it's being born into a family, going through a rigorous training or curriculum together, facing a similar life challenge or collaborating on a project with an important mission, these shared experiences connect us. And this often provides an opportunity to get to know people with different views, backgrounds and other experiences.
This requires that you bring an open mind and an open heart to each interaction you have within the community. Be respectful when someone is sharing and practice active listening. Listen to understand. Be curious. And give people the benefit of the doubt, when needed. We really are all on the same team (you know, that human race).
Another practice that can be invaluable to strengthen a community is compassion for others and also for self. Life can bring us challenges and events that we interpret as painful. It doesn't help to add additional pain in the form of suffering by beating up on ourselves or others. My own coach recently shared a question that she asks herself when she is struggling or life feels hard, "What's the matter, Love?" I thought this was such a beautiful and tender way to talk to yourself. It's how I would show up for my loved ones when they are struggling,
I feel fortunate that I not only get to facilitate community for others, but also to be a part of powerful communities myself. If you are a leader or teacher, you may also facilitate community and hold space for others, but ask yourself if you have a community that you feel you are a part of where you can also receive and not just give. I'm grateful for my diverse, welcoming and supportive community of family and friends. I strongly believe that it takes a village, not just to raise a child, but to thrive in life.
Let me know what you would add to the list above. May you always have the support of community.
The Physician Career Path Reimagined
Copyright 2019-2021. Michelle Bailey & Company, LLC.
www.drmichellebailey.com. All Rights Reserved.
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