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Trusting Yourself Again

boundaries coaching limiting beliefs mindset people-pleasing perfectionism self-compassion Jul 16, 2022
A stressed woman holds her forehead by Pexels of Pixabay
Perfectionism is a common habit amongst Physicians. Most of us likely had perfectionist traits that served us well in the road up to medicine; but nearly all of us developed perfectionist habits that seemed very necessary to make it through the rigors of medical schools, residencies, research or clinical fellowships and the like (I highly recommend Kristi Angevine’s podcast episode on this. Her podcast is Habits on Purpose, Episode 3) . And sooner or later, those perfectionist habits lead to exhaustion, shame, lack of boundaries, and never feeling like we are “enough.”
When we experience fall-out from perfectionism in our lives, one of the common symptoms is an inability to trust ourselves. Depending upon the circumstances, this can look differently.
For some, difficulty with trusting our clinical skills and abilities, especially if there has been a difficult outcome for a patient, regardless of your ability to intervene in the disease/injury.
Others might struggle to trust their physical or emotional needs because of a breakdown (illness, outbursts, relationship disruptions).
The good news is that when we have faced these kinds of challenges, all is not lost. So many of my clients and Physician friends feel like “they should know this by now,” when it comes to dealing with difficult feelings in the face of challenges. And the fact that they don’t makes complete sense when we view it in the context of training that asked us to ignore our bodily needs and constantly be striving to know better, strengthen skills and improve. How were we ever supposed to trust in our ability to take care of ourselves when we threw so much effort into caring for others?
An important place to start is to develop awareness of how you are currently treating yourself. Are you feeding yourself healthy food on a regular basis? Are you moving your body? Are you getting rest? If you struggle with a lack of trust in yourself, one reason may be that training in ignoring the needs of your body has worked too well, leading to crisis. Do a self-care audit focusing on your physical needs.
The same audit applies to your mental health. How do you talk to yourself? Are you self-compassionate or judgmental when things aren’t going well? Are you permissive, giving into urges for junk food, social media binges and alcohol? Or are you rigid, telling yourself what you can’t have until those 20 charts are closed.
Gather the data on how you care for you. And then examine it through the lens of trust with curiosity. If I’m not taking good care of myself, why do I expect myself to be performing well? Do I believe that self-punishment has a positive influence on my behavior? Is that true?
Questioning yourself in this way, with genuine curiosity, brings you into a different relationship with yourself. Imagine looking at how you treat yourself as though you were looking at someone treating a close friend, or a child. It can be challenging to open yourself up in this way, but it allows you to see why you aren’t trusting yourself. And can serve as the foundation for creating an action plan to build better self-care skills.
When you create a plan and make steps towards better self-care, you are doing the work of building self-trust. Celebrate your successes along the way, however small, and anticipate obstacles (and strategies to overcome them) ahead of time.
The same way you would want to rebuild fractured trust between you and a friend or loved one, is the path forward with yourself; small steps, repeated over time, imperfectly, but with clear intention for good.
One foot in front of the other.

Hi There!

I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.

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