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The Ways In Which We (Are Conditioned to) De-Prioritize Ourselves And the Path to Restoration

The Ways In Which We (Are Conditioned to) De-Prioritize Ourselves And the Path to Restoration

 As a physician, I was conditioned to put myself last. This long-standing tendency likely began way before I hit medical school, but certainly my training reinforced it. I was an oldest child personality natural born caretaker, and while medical school reinforced this personality trait, residency exploited it.

"The patient comes first", "Eat when you can, pee when you can, sleep when you can…" Or perhaps it is a deeper message ingrained from our own family of origin. "It's selfish to think about yourself".

It wasn't until years later that I realized that this wasn't unique to the medical industry. Many industries are seeing employees with mental fatigue, emotional fatigue, compassion fatigue, racial and oppression fatigue as they endure the day to day repetitive trauma and subtle acts of exclusion that occur during work.

On top of that we are fulfilling needs in our personal lives

  • Our children need us
  • Our spouses or significant others need us
  • For many in 'sandwich generation', our parents need us
  • And then there is everything else

It can be easy to forget to prioritize ourselves and our own well-being when we have the world pulling at us from multiple directions, but we must become willing to decondition and decolonize from the old ways that require us to spread ourselves thin for the benefit of everyone except us.

  1. It starts with awareness. Becoming Aware that deprioritizing our self for the sake of the family, the organization, the cause, the "greater good" is not sustainable. Because many people who are trained to be in high acuity environments tend to have higher "pain" threshold (which is not always a healthy thing), sometimes they may not be acutely aware of the level of fatigue or self-neglect that is happening until it is relatively advanced. I'd recommend checking in with yourself by asking the following questions:
    1. How am I really feeling on a day to day basis? What have I been pushing down, surviving, tolerating, or unwilling to say or admit?
    2. When was the last time I chose quiet time? I can already hear the "when do I have time to choose quiet time" rebuttal coming… I understand that there are some who truly do not have the option to escape their dire circumstances in this world, however, for many of us it is more of a choice than we realize. So, whether it's 5 minutes, 15 minutes, an hour or a day, where can you create a moment for yourself to rest, reset, and recover?
  2. Once we become aware, we then must be willing to take action. We cannot be of service to others if we do not take the time to care for and restore ourselves. Notice what I said… I said be willing to take action, not take action. Sometimes we skip steps. We go from awareness straight to action because we are used to doing. Taking that pause to become willing before jumping into the deep end gives us space to find the next right action to take.
  3. Now that we have become aware, and willing it's time to take action, right? NO!!! Before actions can be taken a plan must be in place. If we simply start taking actions without any plan, we may end up even more overwhelmed, chaotic and frazzled from the sheer disruption of what we are used to. So, this is the point that we create a roadmap, a plan of action so that fully integrating self prioritization and self care is workable and can become an ongoing habit.
  4. NOW, we take action!!! A plan without implementation is simply a good idea. Start small and graduate in increments. Understand that every plan when initially implemented may need some tweaking and adjusting. Allow space for that. Taking it slow and steady sets you up for sustainability. Frequent evaluation sets you up for ongoing workability and success.
  5. Finally, we must understand that we MAY need to (be willing to) reach out for guidance. I know, I know, you are a highly trained and educated professional… aren't you supposed to be able to know how to fix it? Well, think of it this way… is it logical to think that, that after being conditioned into way of thinking and being for 8 years, 12 years, and for many who have been out in practice 20+ years, that you can just "poof" shift overnight? Of course not! We all have unconscious learnings that are so beneath the surface that sometimes they can be out of reach. Reaching out for support (when you need it) allows us access those unconscious blocks so that we can create new strategies and new actions that will give us new results and new life. Reaching out is NOT a sign of weakness, in fact it's actually a sign of strength and courage.

Once we are aware, willing, and have the support, we can begin to create our vision, a plan, and the action steps required to make the changes that will give us new life. This is something very beneficial to do this with a therapist or coach. They can help you to access the parts of you that you thought you had lost. They can also help you access internal strengths and resources you didn't know you had (and teach you new ones as well).

Many of us come here to make a difference, and it is the nature of our personality to let our passion fuel us to continue pushing even when we are tired. It's historically how we have gotten things done. However, we don't have to be lone rangers in our plights to transform our spaces and communities. One of my favorite quotes is an African proverb that says "If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together". You can choose to care for the world, but first you must choose to care for yourself.

Need a speaker? Learn more about Dr. Maiysha's speaking and trainings. Bring the tools of trauma responsive communication to your leaders, and create a culture of psychological safety in your organization. Increase employee engagement, fulfillment, well-being, and retention. Contact us today and schedule a call with Dr. Maiysha to learn how we can improve your workplace culture. https://mindremappingacademy.com/corporate-programs

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Monday, 24 June 2024