Today I want to consider “physician freedom” and self care in the context of boundaries.
First, what’s going on when we are free?
- Our boundaries are sturdy and healthy.
- Others may cross in and go out of the boundaries without causing much of a disturbance.
Second, what’s going on when we don’t feel free?
- Our boundaries are weak and unhealthy.
- We feel violated, perturbed, traumatized, and injured as others mess with our boundaries.
For example, physicians talk a LOT about financial freedom. If we take this into context of the boundaries it means building up a financial boundary – a sturdy, healthy, secure, safe boundary that protects us and our interests in the form of money. Being able to use our money the way we want. Loans, debt, taxes, and basically stuff we may not want to pay for are violations to our financial boundary. But by expanding and augmenting and improving our finances we are able to build a healthy “castle” with a healthy moat (boundaries), which in the end will keep us safe.
Our physician persona, our work, perhaps school loans all encroach upon the boundary of who we are instead of BOOSTING and augmenting our boundary.
I don’t know about you, but I had an issue with boundaries that was aggravated by my residency training and my time during corporate clinical medicine.
I did not think twice (or even once) about sacrificing my self-care, sleep, time in order to make sure all my work was done: those seemingly EMR inbox items and work e-mail messages, doing scheduling work past-midnight as chief resident, working on a lecture presentation late into the night only to have to wake up early to go to work. In short, I have been letting others invade my boundaries and disrupt my sense of self to a significant degree. Any calls, e-mails, text messages had to answered immediately. I was at the beck and call for everyone not only for work but with others in my life.
It was only until recently I started using the silence/do not disturb function of my phone during nighttime. No more clicks and sounds to respond to at all times of night. I was more easily be able to say no to others requests of me because I was feeding my boundary.
As physicians we can only truly be free if we live and work as a physician if we are living in a way in which our boundaries are not being constantly violated. This will look different for different people. For some, the hustle and bustle of conventional corporate clinical medicine may feed into instead of drain and violate one’s boundaries. For someone else it’s non-clinical work. For some it’s private practice. For some it’s drawing like Dr. Netter or being an entrepreneur, or whatever else feeds you and your healthy boundaries.
So whether it is profession related, finance related, personal life related, try putting it into the context of your boundaries.
You can ask yourself “are my boundaries being encroached upon and violated, or are my boundaries being nourished, built, and being cared for.
How do you nourish your healthy boundaries?
~Dr. Francis Yoo