Tag Archives: byron katie

Trying To Squeeze Blood From A Turnip and The Power of No Force

Part of a series exploring each of the Breema Nine Principles of Harmony turnips001 Trying to squeeze blood from a turnip is a lot like being at war with reality. What are the ways we use force against what is, in an attempt to make things the way we think (and thought is the key word here) they should be? Does it ever really work? And at what price? When we use force, do we even know that our sanity, our inner peace, our body, exists? Or do we only see the blood we want so desperately to come from the turnip, or whatever we are applying force to? If we see clearly, we first begin to recognize that we are not getting the blood we want, despite all the effort. If we continue to look, we might be able to recognize that there's a turnip involved, a turnip that is quite innocent, being a turnip. It has no blood to give. It's just being squeezed, and squeezed some more, harder and harder. You (the one who is squeezing) keep getting more frustrated, but the turnip is not doing anything different. Surprise, surprise, it's still a turnip! Your squeezing, your effort, your frustration, your attempts, have done absolutely nothing to change that. Continue reading

Love Hurts…Is It True? A Few Things I Once Learned About Love…And How I’m Unlearning Them

Have you ever thought about how you learned what love means? What moments in your life explicitly taught you how to love? What examples of love did you observe, and what did you unconsciously learn from them? For most of my life, I have had a murky understanding of the words "love" and "compassion". They were abstract concepts, which I felt no bodily connection to. They were supposed to be good things that good people expressed and felt all of the time, but I had no clue what they felt like to me. "I love you" was not something ever uttered in my household. As far as I know, the phrase doesn't exist in the Chinese language, at least as it applies to families. For most of my life, "love" was a word used by my parents to rationalize their financial anxiety, anger, worry, asking for too much information, and criticizing. "If we didn't love you and care about you, we wouldn't bother to nag you so much," they'd say in defense of themselves. Continue reading

Physician Burnout and Wellness Resources

My take on physician burnout focuses on self-empowerment and witnessed self-inquiry to create a personal definition of physician wellness. There are many academic journal papers outlining the symptoms, prevalence, and possible explanations for physician burnout at every stage of medical training and continuing through practicing physicians mid-career. Here are a few of my favorites:

Mid-Career Burnout in Generalist and Specialist Physicians

Medical Student Burnout and Unprofessional Conduct

Mindfulness Intervention For Primary Care Physician Burnout

Depression and Suicidal Ideation Among Medical Students

Interview with Dr. Laura Roberts on Medical Student Depression and Distress

The blogosphere contains lively discussions on the subject of medical student and physician burnout. For example:

Physician burnout in residency

How physician burnout impacts patient care

Primary care physicians burnout and health care reform

New York Times article on medical student burnout and challenge to patient care

FREE recordings from my "Get the 411 Before It's a 911" coaching calls for medical students, residents, & fellows (also valuable for practicing, mid-career physicians):

Coaching Call #1 - I work with a practicing physician on the stressful thoughts of being on call.

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Coaching Call #2 - 5 Principles of Self-Care for Caring Professionals

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Coaching Call #3 - Creative Leadership for physicians

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Coaching Call #4 - Boundaries, Self-Care Principle #1 for Physicians

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Coaching Call #5 - Reactive to Creative Mode, Self-Care Principle #2 for Physicians

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FREE episodes of "Revolutionizing Medicine...One Belief At A Time" podcast - examining the commonly held stressful thoughts among physicians:

Episode 1 - "I need to take care of my patients."

Episode 2 - "I am surrounded by illness and suffering."

Episode 3 - "Patients demand my time."

Episode 4 - "People need me to respond."

Blog posts I've written:

Why I Created "Self-Care For The Caring Professional" Online Course

5 Principles of Self-Care for Caring Professionals

Doctors On The Brink Of Burnout: The Way I See It

Who Is Responsible For Physician Burnout?

Creativity: A Prescription For Doctors

Diagnosis: Human

BUY the book, Physicians In Transition, including 25 interviews with physicians who have made the transition away from clinical careers and created the life of their dreams! I am included on page 27!

Want to learn more and get "virtual coaching" on this subject?

ENROLL in my online course, "The Art of Self-Care Primer". 21-day online interactive course takes you through each of the Principles of Self-Care (outlined in Coaching Call #2 above) in greater depth, including daily exercises that you can incorporate into your life. You complete the activities at your own pace, and have access to all materials after the course is completed! More info here>>

Revolutionizing Medicine…One Belief At A Time – Episode 4

Welcome to a weekly podcast where I’ll take physicians’ commonly held stressful beliefs and go through an inquiry process on each. I have recorded the questions so that you can listen and follow along, providing your own answers to the questions. It’s important to find YOUR OWN answers that feel true and genuine in your life. I’ve provided the recordings as a tool for slowing yourself down and taking the time to allow these questions to sit inside. [display_podcast] *This process is based on The Work by Byron Katie. For more information, visit www.thework.com. Today’s belief is “People need me to respond.” The questions:
  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you know that it is absolutely, 100% true?
  3. How do you react, and how do you behave, when you believe the thought, “People need me to respond”?
  4. What is the payoff you get for believing the thought, “People need me to respond”?
  5. What are you afraid might happen if you didn’t believe the thought, “People need me to respond”?
  6. Who would you be, and how would you behave, if you didn’t believe the thought, “People need me to respond”?
Now turn the thought around, as I have done below. Find three genuine examples in your life for how each of these new thoughts is as true as the original thought.
  • People do not need me to respond.
  • I need people to respond.
  • My thoughts need me to respond.

Revolutionizing Medicine…One Belief At A Time – Episode 3

Welcome to a weekly podcast where I'll take physicians' commonly held stressful beliefs and go through an inquiry process on each. I have recorded the questions so that you can listen and follow along, providing your own answers to the questions. It's important to find YOUR OWN answers that feel true and genuine in your life. I've provided the recordings as a tool for slowing yourself down and taking the time to allow these questions to sit inside. [display_podcast] *This process is based on The Work by Byron Katie. For more information, visit www.thework.com. Today's belief is "Patients demand my time." The questions:
  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you know that it is absolutely, 100% true?
  3. How do you react, and how do you behave, when you believe the thought, “Patients demand my time”?
  4. What is the payoff you get for believing the thought, “Patients demand my time”?
  5. What are you afraid might happen if you didn’t believe the thought, “Patients demand my time”?
  6. Who would you be, and how would you behave, if you didn’t believe the thought, “Patients demand my time”?
Now turn the thought around, as I have done below. Find three genuine examples in your own life for how each of these turnarounds is as true as (or perhaps truer than) the original thought. Patients don't demand my time. I demand my patients' time. I demand my own time. Another possibility, not covered on the audio: My thoughts demand my time.

Revolutionizing Medicine…One Belief At A Time – Episode 2

Welcome to a weekly podcast where I'll take physicians' commonly held stressful beliefs and go through an inquiry process on each. I have recorded the questions so that you can listen and follow along, providing your own answers to the questions. It's important to find YOUR OWN answers that feel true and genuine in your life. I've provided the recordings as a tool for slowing yourself down and taking the time to allow these questions to sit inside. [display_podcast] *This process is based on The Work by Byron Katie. For more information, visit www.thework.com. Today's belief is "I am surrounded by illness and suffering." The questions:
  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you know that it is absolutely, 100% true?
  3. How do you react, and how do you behave, when you believe the thought, “I am surrounded by illness and suffering”?
  4. What is the payoff you get for believing the thought, “I am surrounded by illness and suffering”?
  5. What are you afraid might happen if you didn’t believe the thought, “I am surrounded by illness and suffering”?
  6. Who would you be, and how would you behave, if you didn’t believe the thought, “I am surrounded by illness and suffering"?
Now turn the thought around, as I have done below. Find three genuine examples in your life for how each of these new thoughts is as true as the original thought. I am not surrounded by illness and suffering. My patients are surrounded by illness and suffering. My thoughts surround me with illness and suffering.

Put Down The Knife

“Life begins when you put down the knife that you’ve been holding to your own neck.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love
Elizabeth was addressing the crowd gathered for O Magazine’s 10th Anniversary bash in New York City, using her signature blend of truth, humor, and self-compassion to remind us that in our quest to “live our best lives”, we can easily fall prey to perfectionism, trying to fix everything that we find broken, and holding ourselves hostage to our own ideal images of who we believe we should be. It’s a challenge in our culture of extremes to find what feels like balance for YOU. We’re being told by a lot of people what balance “should” be, and given formulas for how to achieve it. Go to a retreat center. Get a massage. Hire a life coach. Read this book. Watch this video. Join this community. Listen to this teacher. It’s enough to make you feel so overwhelmed that keeping the status quo seems a whole lot easier than trying to do something about it. Continue reading

Revolutionizing Medicine…One Belief At A Time – Part 1

If you have behaved yourself into a situation, you must behave yourself out of it! The behavior in this case is the behavior of the mind. As a physician, you went through systematic training of the mind to get you to believe certain thoughts. When was the last time you questioned one of these thoughts? Learning that the mind's natural tendency is to attach to certain thoughts and believe them; and observing that the root of all painful, stressful feelings is believing certain thoughts, was revolutionary for me. I uncovered a system of thoughts that I believed without question, and realized that I already had all the freedom I was longing for. I simply had to question my thoughts. To show you how this process works, it's best to use real examples. Each week I’m going to take a stressful thought that is central to the physician’s belief system, and question it. Follow along, and even listen in on the audio podcast as you do your own work on the same thought. [display_podcast] *This process is based on The Work of Byron Katie. For more information, visit www.thework.com. A list of physicians’ common stressful thoughts: “I need to take care of patients.” “I am surrounded by illness, suffering, and death.” “Patients demand my time.” “People need me to respond.” Continue reading

Who is responsible for physician burnout?

I went to medical school and know something about what it’s like to work in clinical environments. I’ve recently started reading blogs and articles about “physician burnout” and I can’t help but notice that there’s a lot of blame being placed on “the system”. Doesn’t this kind of storytelling just reinforce that physicians are victims? I’d like to see physicians adopt a way of thinking that will enable each of them to create the desired changes in their own lifestyles, levels of satisfaction, and ultimately patient care. In 2001, I made the choice to graduate from medical school but not pursue a residency. I benefited countless patients by making this decision. The key realization I made as a third-year medical student on my Vascular Surgery rotation, was, “I don’t have to do a residency.” So much of my suffering up until that point was based on the single erroneous thought, “I have to do a residency!” I also thought, “I don’t want to live this way! But I have to! These are my only choices!” Well, none of those thoughts was true. Continue reading

Mastering Your Mind (& Not Letting It Master You) – Life Coaching Basics Part 4 of 4

"It is on no map. No true place ever is." - Melville
Trying to describe the nature of the mind is a little bit like giving directions to a place that is on no map. How do I tell you how to get there? It might be easier to come along with me and see for yourself. If you pay attention along the way, you'll learn how to get there on your own. This is the last in my 4-part series on Life Coaching Basics. I started out with my best description of what a life coach does, with a reminder that there are some things you just have to experience first (and getting coached is one of those things). Then I presented Martha Beck's beautiful model of The Change Cycle. It's a great starting point for making sense of things when everything is changing and you're wondering what to do. Next I dove deeper into the subject of how our essential self speaks to us, and how our bodies convey important signals to listen to. The final part I'll cover in this series is perhaps the most important, and also the most challenging to grasp at first. Since we are using the mind to consider the mind, it's a little...well, mind-bending! I like to call this "Yoga of the Mind", because it's really about building flexibility, balance, and strength (yes, all three!) in your THINKING, in the same way that most people think of yoga doing this for your BODY.

Turning Your World Upside Down

Lately I've been trying to stand on my head for at least a few minutes each day. Not only does it help align my spine and bring energy to my body through the brief reversal of blood flow, but it helps me literally see the world from a different perspective. Up is down. Down is up. It's not just making fancy shapes with your body, it's literally yoga for your mind. In order to change your experience of the things that happen in your life, your awareness needs to change. That means, not only your thinking, but becoming aware of what you are thinking. Becoming the watcher of your thoughts requires asking the question, "What am I using my mind for?" Continue reading