Putting Stressful Thoughts on Trial
An 8 week course to get you through a lawsuit better than you started
It is a doctor's worse nightmare.
You sign for a slim registered letter, and your worse nightmare comes true. A patient has decided to sue you for alleged medical malpractice. Your mind goes into a tailspin before you can even read the entire letter. "I am finished!" "This will be a long drawn-out process" "I will lose the respect of my colleagues and community."
A lawsuit is one of the most challenging events for many of us. Sadly, most of us will get sued, and the vast majority will end up in our favor. Yet we get so anxious that it affects our practice, families, and entire lives.
Medical Malpractice Stress Syndrome
The stress of a lawsuit is so common and so debilitating that it has been named the "Medical Malpractice Stress Syndrome."
The American Medical Association has published an assessment to help diagnose the problem. You can see the full article here.
The pain of malpractice was so grave that searched for anything that could make me feel a little bit better. I learned meditation, I exercised, I ate well, I reached out to others, and I did talk therapy. While these practices continue to be a mainstay of my lifestyle, it was the process of inquiry that helped me out the most.
Inquiry: Putting our stressful thoughts on trial
External events don't stress us out; our thoughts about them do. When we get sued, we have all kinds of thoughts about the future. It has been shown that 95% of the things we worry about don't happen. What is important to know, is that in the 5% of cases where our worse case scenior does play out, we meet the challenge in a much better way than we expected. We never live the future we imagine for ourselves.
Lawsuits typically bring up thoughts such as:"People are out to get me" "I will lose the respect of my colleagues and community" "I am not a good doctor" "Things will never be the same". None of these thoughts serve us (especially as we try to be likable on the stand), and cause us to be nervous, angry, and absent-minded. They keep us up at night.
Putting those thoughts on trial using self-inquiry is the fastest way to dispel those thoughts once and for all. When we use this process, we can see how these thoughts aren't true. We can stop believing our worst nightmares. We can let go of the painful narrative that has us so anxious.
Who would you be without the thought "Something terrible is going to happen?"
Sometimes we think we need all the negativity we can get in order to perform well in a world that is out to get us. I certainly felt that way. The opposite is in fact true. Without the thought "everyone is out to get me" or "people don't appreciate me" , my hands stop shaking and my belly relaxes. I show up rested, calm and collected, just like my lawyer wants me to be. I am smarter, with my wits about me.
Fast acting medicine
I like to tell my medical clients: "If mindfulness is like medicine, inquiry is like surgery". Questioning our thoughts allows us to be clear, quickly. When we get in the habit of questioning them, it starts to happen automatically until we notice that they no longer plague us. We sleep, we focus at work, we are present for our relationships.
Best yet, as we learn to question our stressful beliefs about litigation, all our other stressful thoughts also start to fade. This is how we can come out of this experience even stronger than before. Inquiry strengthens our control over our thoughts and emotions.
The stress response - How the mind reacts under stress.
Fight or Flight
The Left brain interpreter
The default mode
How this affects your litigation
Introduction to Mindfulness
Benefits of Meditation
How to meditate
Get to know your greatest Saboteurs
How do you show up when stressed?
Review of the ten saboteurs
Assesment of saboteur pattern
Understand your strengths
The Sage mind
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