Title with thanks to Tessa Loftus Armenis, a colleague with whom I have shared many flights to and from out-of-town lectures. We have discussed this phenomenon at length. Often over wine. We figured if we could bottle it, and sell it, there was no end to the good that would come of it….
It occurred to me yet again earlier this week – whilst encouraging a patient to stop, breathe and be present – how often we don’t follow our own known ‘best practice’. I refer to myself, as much as anyone else.
How often do I let the situation become bigger than my involvement warrants?
How often do I care too much about my patients – you can’t help everyone, because not everyone has a problem that is responsive to your offering.
Do I clutch my son too tightly: not letting him get lost to find his way home – surely an essential skill? Not letting him get hungry – then how and when will he learn to feed himself? Not letting his hurt intrude too deeply – but isn’t the world a cold, cruel, unfair place? I ponder on these things. How to love and protect yet still toughen-up. Or must I be Zen about the inevitable pain and suffering he will endure – that’s just life?!
How often does one get caught up in the narrative? The patients who prioritize the morning meeting over the morning dump (poo); or worse – the throbbing ache in their rectum/testicle/labia that gets all the attention and focus. Certainly more brain-space than the boss gets!
The mother who doesn’t prioritize hugging her kids now – they won’t be that size, or that keen, for much longer. Be present now.
I am aware of the words I tell patients, only to wonder why I am not living up to them. Why don’t I stop, breathe and be still – why do I still keep juicing, and packing ultra-healthy lunch boxes (for the kid) and not eating breakfast myself? Do I really have to run from the car to the office and back to the car again, to morph into a driver (parkour and trail-running rather than soccer, but essentially the same thing!!?). Then flow into simultaneous homework-motivator and problem-solver, slash chef-of-balanced-wholesome meal?
When do I get to breathe?! To be honest, its usually after the first glass of wine. And yes, I do know how much I drink. More than I should, and probably more than you do.
So, before its wine’o’time, let me take a moment to be present, still and mindful (with the incessant hammer from the neighbour’s building site)….
Stop. Breathe. Centre.