CLINICIAN HEAL THYSELF
The moral of the proverb is an adaptation from the proverb found in Luke 4:23. It means that [physicians] (freely generalised to clinicians to include me) need to first attend to their own weaknesses and unresolved issues before criticising (i.e. diagnosing) issues and problems in others. I could translate this to “first pay attention to your own issues and start healing before attempting to heal others (definition freely adapted from dictionary.com).
This all has to do with ethics and values and my core beliefs. Of course, we all are influenced by society and we are molded and changed through all we are exposed to. To those who question this I only have to ask whether they truly can say that they were not taken in by the hype on multivitamins, nutritional supplements, naturopathic and homeopathic treatments, which effects, when you really dig deep into peer reviewed journals, tend to be based on other (or external) variables and a placebo effect rather than on the treatment or pill perse. Oh and I forgot that now sugar is our enemy #1, not saturated fats! (but the latter is true!).
So, this means that my so dearly held values are also reflective of my generation, the society where I currently reside, my upbringing and education. Regardless, I will remain truthful to my values and beliefs and I will take responsibility for the occasions I went in the wrong.
A lot of things have shaken me to my core (stolen from Michelle Obama, October, 2016) and have resulted in me questioning my sanity. One thing however, stands clear to me: In order to become healthy and to remain healthy I have to focus on exactly that: My health!
This is my physical and my mental health. That is what I have been doing for the last week. I am focusing on my physical and mental fitness. I exercise a lot and I am correcting my own cognitive distortions and re-frame them into realistic (logical) thoughts, which will in turn affect my feelings and my behaviour.
There are many gurus and masters of these practical Cognitive Therapy (CT) approaches (see Aaron Beck and Donald Meichenbaum), but for the purpose of this post I focus on Albert Ellis’s Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT).
All studies on CT show that “…when people change their irrational beliefs to undogmatic flexible preferences, they become less disturbed” (Ellis, 2004, p. 187). That is what I need:)!
Ellis writes “…REBT holds that even justified anger is self-defeating and usually leads to poor physical and social results” (p. 28).
I also have to work on Unconditional Self Acceptance (USA) which leads to Unconditional Other Acceptance (UOA). In order to accept myself I have to stop my “musturbational thinking”. I do not need to be perfect and it is acceptable to fail or to experience rejection. Ellis added later on “antineediness and antiawfulising” to his theory (p. 94). I can gain a lot from re-visiting these lessons.
When I act not very wisely, I have the choice to feel sorrow, regret and annoyance, which are healthy feelings and the opposite of “self-shaming, embarrassment and humiliation” (p. 133). I would like to add the healthy feelings that express pain and less than fortunate events; Sadness, frustration and disappointment.
When I focus on perceived harm done to me I have to tune-in with the wisdom of Epictetus who wrote 2,000 years ago that “people are disturbed not by events that happen to them, but by their view of them” (p. 184).
This turns me back to my values and beliefs. I am rephrasing my inaccurate beliefs that people need to treat me fairly (this is neediness), and that being hurt in my relationship is “awful” (awfulising). That what happened in my marriage is humiliating (rephrased: regretful and sad) and embarrassing (altered into: is causing me sorrow, sadness and frustration).
Ellis quotes a few times Eleanor Roosevelt who said that “no one can insult you without your permission!” (p.111). That woman was wise.
Please find another very important addition: We need SLEEP and healthy food as well as the above (Plectrumm, 2017).
“Just keep swimming…” (encouraging words from Dory, Finding Nemo, 2010).
Reference: Ellis, A. (2004). Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. It works for me-It can work for you. New York: Prometheus Books.