For many in medicine, a driving quality that brought us into medicine has been wanting to help others. When we were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, if asked why we chose to be in medicine the answer was always to help others.
Helping those in need with skills we acquire is a noble thing to strive for. However, it is not surprising that always giving to others and not spending time to pause and refill the tank so to speak can leave us feeling drained, overwhelmed, apathetic or cynical, classic signs of burnout.
There is no difference between your car gas tank or your cell phone battery and with you. If you don’t stop and fill it up or recharge it, you will literally stop moving and working well. For some reason, physicians especially have been indoctrinated to act as if we have no needs and we should not and cannot receive help. Somehow, acknowledging we have basic needs, need help, or furthermore accept it, would crumble a false belief of our superhuman nature that has been ingrained in our psyche.
The problem with this false belief is we are not superhuman, and having this idea leads to feelings of inadequacy, and impostor syndrome and quickly begins to spiral into anxiety and depression because we can never uphold this façade for too long. Our walls quickly begin to crumble and guilt, shame, and fear begin to reign over our emotions.
So how could we get out of these emotions and low levels of consciousness and begin to feel enthusiasm, love, and joy again?
We begin with gratitude.
Gratitude for all that is going well, for all that we have, and for all that we are. Just our being is worthy without any of the fancy bells, whistles, or diplomas on our walls. The definition of success moves from having and achieving to “being.” Being an instrument of love and light for others, being present without all the “doing” we are told we are supposed to do or fix. Healing others can be “being” without doing. However, to continue to shine our light we must pause and accept we cannot do it all alone and we need rest, a time to pause and reflect, and help.
When we are struggling with too many roles, and too many emotions, we may need others to remind us of our inherent worthiness and of our true state which is joy, love, and peace. To allow others to help us is really a gift for oneself and for others. When you allow others to help you, it is not a sign that you are vulnerable and weak, but it is a strength in that you realize helping each other (just like you vowed to do when you entered medicine) can only happen when you allow the help in.
When we are struggling with too many roles, and too many emotions, we may need others to remind us of our inherent worthiness and of our true state which is joy, love, and peace. Click To Tweet
If you are a physician or a nurse, how frustrating does it become when you try to tell a patient that they need a certain medicine or treatment, but they outright refuse? You try to convince, bargain, or even scare them with risks and data, yet they will not budge and accept the help. How do you feel when this occurs? Do you feel drained, rejected, and disconnected? Do you feel energized? It is likely you feel drained because the love, care, and energy you are sending is getting rejected and there is resistance to not let it in.
It is like trying to push open a glass door that is too heavy or stuck. You can see the other side and it seems so close, but it will not move. You can also think about pets if you have any. Pets do not have an ego and they are pure loving souls. They receive and give love freely. When you are greeted by your dog, do they run away when you try to pet them, or do they wag their tail and lick you with excitement to see you? They accept and give love freely and you feel calm and joyful, and their love always lifts your spirit. The exchange comes freely without resistance.
So, when it is your turn to receive help, accepting it leads to a bond and strength between you and the giver. It starts the cycle of loving energy passing between the giver and receiver. Have you ever thought about someone and gotten them a gift because you thought they would love it only to have them say they could not accept it and reject it? How did you feel? Again, likely depleted and disconnected.
So, when someone gives you a compliment, a word of encouragement, or a suggestion that maybe you are heading down the precipice of burnout and you should reach out for help with a mentor, therapist, or coach: accept the encouraging words or help. It will not make you weaker but stronger, allowing others to care for you and realize that you are not superhuman. We can never be. We are also not islands and we are all interconnected. When we realize that many of us struggle with the same worries, habits, and beliefs it is unifying not divisive.
Allowing people in your life is a gift that we were not taught to accept. Accept the gift of love and care. It will transform you and start you on a path to wellness and connection with others.