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You are NOT Your Emotions

emotional wellbeing negative emotions negative thoughts overwhelm Mar 02, 2024
You are NOT your emotions!

I’m not sure how many years it was exactly, but there was a period of several years where my emotions seemed limited to anger, overwhelm and exhaustion.

There might have been some good times sprinkled in there. But mostly anger, overwhelm, and exhaustion.

When you are in that place, where you seem to just bounce from one difficult emotion to the other, it’s hard NOT to believe that you aren’t your feelings. I didn’t think that I was a terrible person, but I did feel pretty defeated, and it was hard to imagine feeling anything different at the time.

I wish that I could have known that my feelings were trying to tell me something important. These emotions were a consequence of entrenched perfectionism and people-pleasing, coupled with having a demanding job that always wanted more from me and young children. I believed that the way I HAD to work and parent meant that I always came last, and that I couldn’t say no, couldn’t take breaks until the work was done, couldn’t disappoint people (except myself of course).

I won’t ever get those years back.

And while I wish I hadn’t spent that long of a time in the dark, I can also look back on my former self with love and self-compassion, and know that she was doing the best that she could with what she thought was true.

But here’s what I want to offer you, so that you don’t waste time in the same place.

Your emotions are here to tell you something. Something important.

If you are frequently angry, drained, overwhelmed, anxious, peopled-out and afraid, it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with you. But it does mean that something needs to change. And before we hop to another job, thinking that this will solve the problem, I ask you to slow down, and examine your mind.

If we accept that working in healthcare means that there is ALWAYS more work to do, always NEW things to learn, ALWAYS more sick people, then we absolutely need to decide where we choose to set our limits. We have to decide when we start and stop work, and stick to it.

Yes, I hear you. We don’t always get to decide our schedule, the FTE we “have to” work, etc. But if you tune into what your feelings are telling you, and you know that you need to work less, or differently, then you can decide where the boundaries go.

  • Do you need to set “on” and “off” hours for yourself, so that you don’t putter around in the EMR perfecting notes/charts and trying to keep your inbox spotless (and then feeling crushed when more stuff dumps in)?
  • Do you need to extricate yourself from the committee that you were voluntold onto?
  • Do you need to decide that it’s not good for YOUR mental health to work this FTE? And that this means not only changing jobs/roles, but ALSO working on your mental health

You don’t have negative emotions because you aren’t “tough enough” or “aren’t cut out for this job.” You have these emotions because you have thoughts and beliefs about how you work AND usually people at work and at home that demand a lot from you. Let’s think about what’s helpful, what’s reasonable, what you need, and what you need to let go of.

Let’s use YOUR emotions as important data; and not as a personal flaw.

Check out these podcast episodes for more thoughts on this, and schedule a call with me if you want to talk more. I’d love to help you solve this challenge.

Episode 84, October 3, 2023, “When There’s Nothing in the Tank”

Episode 67, June 6, 2023, “Actions Don’t Create our Feelings”

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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