Recently, I had the opportunity to be a facilitator in motivational interviewing sessions with medical students in which they discussed with me the benefits of a wellness activity they had researched. All the students, with passion and enthusiasm, tried to convince me to pursue the activity they recommended. The conversation had multiple facets, including identifying problems and barriers as well as how to overcome them. Throughout our discussions, with me being the patient and students acting as my physician, great empathy and politeness were expressed. When the sessions ended, I would ask them “Have you talked like this to the most important person in your life?” Most of them would think for a while and tell me “maybe during tough times or when they really need help.” Then I would ask them “Do you know who the most important person is?” I’d follow-up with, “It is you, yourself.” All of them were struck by this new idea of self-healing. It was a good exercise for me too, because it made me wonder how many times I have bashed myself and not talked to myself the way I would speak to any person in need of some guidance and help.
This self-rebuke happens quite frequently in the medical field, in which medical professionals blame themselves for different occurrences. This becomes more common, among numerous factors, during periods of stress, long shifts, continuous shifts, and with difficult decision making. It is easy to blame yourself unnecessarily; It is easy to become one of the benighted. My ritual to deal with this changed a few years ago: I started spending at least 1 hour with myself every week with one of the books from my bucket list. During this hour, there is no talk of work, no indulgence in financial queries, no worry—just me trying to have a good time. After this hour, I talk to myself, write my concerns down in nurturing language, and then try to find solutions with an open mind. Many times, the answer doesn’t come naturally and takes effort, but that’s okay, and that’s what I tell myself just like I would tell any other person who would seek my advice, with the same demeanor, poise, and intent.
We should all try to have some way to nurture ourselves. Lately, I have been reading many books, 1-2 in one day! (my son is a few weeks old, and his books aren’t that long.) I took him to a book store recently and sat in the children section and read this to him:
“Out there things can happen, and frequently do,
To people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry, don’t stew.
Just go right along, you’ll start happening too!”
(Oh, the Places You Will Go! –Dr. Seus)
With that perspective, I ask you: Have you said beautiful things to yourself lately? If not, please do.