The Myth About Resilience
The biggest myth of burnout is that we as doctors need to be more resilient.
There are institutions researching it, journal articles written about it, hospital organizations surveying it, so called "burnout experts" creating programs to "increase resilience".
Well, I call bullshit!!!
Doctors DON'T need to be more resilient! We never lacked resilience in the first place. Think about it. What other profession do you know that can bounce back from 24 even…..36 hr. days…filled with sickness, death and demanding family members.
What other profession do you know where it's constituents will ignore their natural signals for hunger, ignore the urge to pee, and deprive themselves of sleep ongoing while dealing with very emotional and sometimes highly charged situations?Wait, then those same people go home, and post up for their families… engaging when they are completely exhausted…. emotionally and physically tapped out.
What other group of people do this day… after day… all the while telling themselves "Maybe It'll be okay…" "I'm making a difference…" "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger…"
I'll tell you what other group…soldiers, you know the kind that walk into live fire on an order, yes them.We are not unlike soldiers in many ways (God bless them for their service). We may not walk into live gunfire, jump out of planes into hostile territory, and die in war (although, one could make a case that some of us do some sort version of all of that, and with 300-400 doctors committing suicide each year, you could say we ARE in war of sorts).
We are by our very nature resilient. Look, if you finished medical school, completed your residency, and have entered practice, you are the very definition of resilient.
That, actually, is precisely the problem. We are too resilient. We have been trained and conditioned for so long to be resilient, that we have forgotten that we are also human.
We ignore our basic needs, feel selfish when we want or need time for ourselves, feel guilty about taking any time off (whether it be time off from the family, or from work).
Our humanity has gotten lost in our resiliency.
So, what now?
Now, we wake up. Forget resilience, we need to wake up to what it feels like to actually be human again. How does one wake up to their humanity? We start by figuring out what we want. What makes us happy? What brings us joy?
And look some of you can't even remember the last time you felt happy, fulfilled, excited, or at peace.
But if you can remember a time that you used to feel completely confident, accomplished, excited, fulfilled, and happy, then that is a place to start.
If you cannot remember that time, then it may be time for you to seek some outside support in helping you move from a place of stuck-ness to a place of more empowerment and freedom.Look at what's important to you… and where are you putting your energy? Are your priorities matching your values? Are your actions in line with priorities? These are the questions that if we ask ourselves will wake us up to where we have fallen off the path. From there finding communities of like mind that support you in stepping off the hamster wheel and actually creating a life by design, rather than a life by default.
Resilience is NOT the problem, folks.Remembering who we are as living, breathing, bleeding, loving, and even hurting human beings is; and tending to these issues is what will give us the ultimate access to our own healing and recovery. Then, just maybe, we can begin to find balance in the midst of this grossly unbalanced profession.
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