In order to be successful you must walk the tight rope of gratitude, humility and pride. As a practitioner, you have already accomplished so much for your patients, your community and your culture.
Now it's time to be real about it. Students can also find much to be proud about in their career/passion undertaking. Both practitioners and students don't have to look far to see the positive influence they have had on others.
Think of pride a little like food coloring. A few drops of pride can change the hue of everything you mix it with. I would like to remind you that your thinking about your professional life and practice needs to reflect what is positively true about you, the absolute, beautiful truth, even with your imperfect humanity - the yin within yang. You need to remember your pride, to pull it out and display it for yourself. You won't be as good a doctor without it and you won't be walking the walk with your patients if you urge them to raise their self-esteem, self-care and positive self-awareness as part of their healing process. You owe this to everyone involved with your practice.
I'm not speaking of shallow self-aggrandizement. That's just fluff. The real stuff may need to be gathered from some dark closet of memory, dusted off, washed, and hung in the sunshine to breathe and shine. Our professional ancestors knew that bringing true genius to one's work required an honest appraisal of one's abilities. One must live fully within one's self to "know" the Tao. One must clean out the dark places and know what is there.
The founders of our work were not "self" oriented as we are in the west. Individuality wasn't part of their culture. But each person knew his or her place. The great medical minds of our profession's past knew what they brought forward and believed in what they knew. Many generations risked their own lives trying formulas with little understood herbs. Many died for their experiments as formulas and herbs proved toxic. They tested new theories and practices with tremendous courage, they faced epidemics the severity of which most of us will never know. Many faced multiple epidemics in a lifetime. How could they have accomplished these things, how could their work have survived, how could they have built both the infrastructure and detail of what we practice today without pride?
These people were followers of teachers who grew to become teachers with followers. This has been our way for thousands of years. They studied books. But later in life they were taught to stop acquiring knowledge (Earth) and practice only from wisdom (heaven). Historically they would have given their books to their students and relied upon their essences as healers. This has always been the path of our professional ancestors. This is our path today.
What I am urging you to think about isn't the "stand out" stuff. You do not need to limit pride to the big experiences such as the terminally ill patient who has responded so well to your work that her physicians can't figure out why she's still alive.
Pride is not arrogance. Arrogance is a full energetic condition of self-aggrandizing compensating for low self-esteem. Pride has depth of its own.
It doesn't come from other people and it's not something that anybody else needs to know about. It's not the result of someone else's regard for you. It's yin, born inside the self and it's yang, radiating from your core, the quiet, self-knowing, inner voice.
Do you think you might have inadvertently given too much away to your teacher or colleagues? Is too much credit going outside the self for your contributions large and small? With so much yang energy being blown around to run our cultural and economic engines, it would make sense that we would have imbalances.
We are blessed with this medicine. It is a gift to us. What we do with it is a blessing to others. We can be proud of participating in this cycle of life. It is correct to feel that way.
There are many things that you can do to remember your pride, to live from it and to let it fortify your marketing and your practice. Right now, as you read this, can you think of four things you know you are proud of in reference to your work? As I have mentioned in past articles, my favorite hexagram of the I Ching is titled "The Taming Power Of The Small." What are the small things that make all the difference and are reflections of your brilliance, intelligence, skill and effort? Why should a patient choose you to be their guide and healer? What do you bring them that warrants their choice of you? You need to know the answers to these questions. You need to honor the answers as our professional ancestors did. Would it not be helpful to think every day of such things? Would taking a few moments to see the truth of your contributions and achievements be a constructive use of time and ultimately make you better at what you do? When we know our strengths we can capitalize upon them, choosing to build specific skills even more, inviting patients to ask questions in reference to those strengths.
At the bottom of one's ability to heal is self-assessment. You can do what you believe you can do, and a bit more. The more accurate you are in your vision of your abilities, the more comprehensive your understanding and use of your skills. The more readily you tap into your intuition, just as the long line of practitioners before you.
Simply, you are important. You belong here, you are a link in the chain. Claim your place with pride. Be honest about the gifts you bring. Doing so will bring you the courage you need to change the world for the better, one patient and one syndrome and one treatment at a time.
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