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Bridging the Gap: Integrative Medicine Meets Population Health

  Happy International Integrative Health Day !  Let's dive into a high-level solution for transforming healthcare by building our practices around population health and value-based care.

IM Living Present: Conquering limiting beliefs and being present to our life's purpose

Limiting beliefs can sabotage and stall dreams. We face challenges at all career stages in overcoming deeply engrained beliefs that prevent us from being of the highest service in our professions and making a positive impact in the world.

Through my own struggles and revelations in medical practice, I will highlight some common limiting beliefs that prevent us from being present and alive to untapped potential in our careers and lives. 

“Imposter Syndrome”

Ten years ago, I graduated medical residency with an impression of a blueprint in my mind that others had outlined for future career success and fulfillment. However, deep in my heart I had misgivings about the blueprint and myself. A young doctor lacking in experience and confidence, I let others define what success was for me for many years. As a result, I was always one step behind and feeling like what I was doing for my patients and practice was not enough. I didn’t trust myself, and as a result, others could not trust me. I dwelled relentlessly in the past and nurtured regrets and grudges, shadow boxing an enemy that I later found out was none other than myself. All my dreams stalled. I would later find out that the blueprint is our own to create, and we can create successful careers and a healing experience for our patients on our own terms. 

“I'm Not ____ enough”...  “Someone/something will come to save me”

A major wake up call came in 2011, when my first job was not going as planned. In medicine, your value is often defined by how efficient and productive you can be to your practice. I was neither of those things in my first years in practice; I was not a money maker. This was the truth at the time, and it utterly devastated me. My despair led me to take a week off and travel to Esalen in Northern California for a workshop facilitated by Mary Goldenson. I had read her book, It’s Time No One’s Coming to Save You. It had nothing to do with medicine and everything to do with living present through connecting to myself, others, and my life’s purpose. For so long, I had been waiting for my life and work to change for the better, feeling like I had no control. I was waiting for a “dream job” to come along and make everything better for me. After several job changes, I discovered that fantasy simply did not exist. 
I committed to working on connecting with myself and my relationships for next six years and felt a weight gradually lift off of me. The past failures no longer defined me; mistakes now represented a path to learning how to be my best in the present. The lie of the “dream job” became apparent and opened my eyes to possibilities of creating my own dream. My productivity no longer linked to my identity as a physician. I stopped worrying how I would be perceived and started concentrating on how to shift focus to living my purpose and giving my best in my work to those I served. 

“Money is bad”

Years later, I still continued to tell myself “I am not a money maker” even after my productivity improved from my first years. This limiting belief had led to me undervaluing myself in job negotiations and taking lower pay than my peers in anticipation of low productivity. It also stemmed from a sense of shame regarding money.  I felt guilty making money and having abundance in my life when many of the patients I cared for had neither of these. Recognizing this limiting belief was freeing; it allowed me to change the story I was telling myself. Money and abundance can lead to change and the ability to enact programs for social justice among other important causes! Why not have abundance so you can share it with others and have plentiful resources to make a difference in the world!

“I have to do [insert long list of scut work, paying dues, and making sacrifices] to make it”

This brings me back full circle to the blueprint I mentioned previously. If we can create our own blueprints, we know what opportunities to embrace and which to say "no thanks” to. While it is true that we have to start at the bottom. It is not true that we need to remain there for an agonizing period of time doing work we don’t like before we are eventually “recognized” and finally get to do what we want to do in our field. Countless people told me I made the “wrong choice” in going into private practice and should have immediately gone back and tried to get a job in academics. Others told me I needed to open my own practice in order to succeed as a Physiatrist practicing Integrative Medicine. None of these felt right. 
Many other wake-up calls led me along an unconventional path over the last four years. The most impactful change came two years ago, after listening to The Desire Map daily by Danielle LaPorte in the car on my daily long-haul commute. The idea that we can create our own lives and fulfillment through tapping into our present core desired feelings was the first step in figuring what I wanted in life. Especially as a woman physician, I took for granted my own desires in my quest to make others happy and meet their needs. 
The first thing I decided is that I did not want a long commute anymore. Books like The Bones Zones of Happiness hit this concept home. My energy and presence is spent better ways than driving or sitting in traffic for hours. My career happiness is fueled by feeling free, innovative, and creative. 

"I'm Bad at Business"

For years I hated thinking about the business side of medicine, only due to the fact that I believed I was not good at it. It does not help that there is a big myth that doctors are notoriously bad at business, and there was zero business talk in medical school.
One turning point came when I met Dr. Joanne Smith, the CEO of the renowned rehabilitation hospital, now called The Shirley Ryan Ability Lab. She came to one of our resident programs and talked about her career as as CEO. When I heard her speak, something clicked in me. There came an instantaneous and rather comical thought at the time: “That’s what I want to do!” I spent weeks laughing at myself for even entertaining the ridiculous thought of myself as a future CEO. Years later, the thought came back into my mind, and a powerful childhood memory. One sunny weekend, my neighbor friend and I were sitting on her lawn giddy, filled with pride as we counted stacks of money and coins. We did it! Us little girls had run a successful lemonade stand and made $100 that weekend. If us children could do it, the adult version could certainly learn with the proper training. 

We all don’t have to be CEOs, but we certainly need to be CEOs of our own lives and destinies. I’m now devoting a chunk of my spare time learning about business and healthcare administration with a sense of excitement and joy. On the job, I am learning about "getting out of my own way" to be a better leader and physician.

I'm Living Present (in my truth)

By bringing to light limiting beliefs, they can be dismantled and replaced with the truth that we can create our own success on our own terms. The result will lead to present fulfillment that will lead to us fulfilling others through our work. This self-awareness is the first step to living present. The personal work takes time and effort, but the rewards are even greater. I invite you to see if you can relate to some of the lies you may be telling yourself that are stalling your dream career and potential to positively impact the world. This is the embodiment of self-awareness and will open the doors to the steps you need to start living the life you want, NOW!

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