Have you ever found yourself beating your head against the wall? Acting out the definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over expecting different results)? Feeling that you just can’t solve a problem no matter what angle you attack it from?
King Kong versus Godzilla. An irresistible force meets an immovable object.
Do doctors get frustrated? Of course they do.
One of my online friends, Dr. Mike Sevilla, got so frustrated that he recently decided to bow out of social media all together. Another friend, Dr. Jordan Grumet, has gotten so frustrated and fed up with the status quo in medicine that he has launched a new type of practice, a concierge model of sorts, and is now sweating the details in hopes that it works for him. A third friend, Dr. Rob Lamberts, is a few steps ahead of Dr. Grumet in establishing a different kind of practice that focuses on his patients, their needs, and how he can give them excellent customer service with a limited amount of external oversight and hassle.
Me? Well, you know what I’m struggling with. I don’t like the way psychiatric patients are treated in emergency rooms, in clinics, in hospitals, by the medical establishment. I’m trying in my small way to make a difference, to effect change in my small corner of the universe.
Frustration is an emotional response to opposition. Whether one is trying to change a system, change an attitude or create a new paradigm, meeting with resistance and seeing that one’s will is not going to be easily imposed leads to an inevitable state of frustration. The greater the external obstruction and the greater the internal will to get it done, the bigger the frustration.
Now, I happen to believe that with doctors, myself included, the frustration is often internal and self-imposed. We doctors are prone to putting on hair shirts disguised as button-down Oxfords in the morning. We self-flagellate with stethoscopes instead of cat o’ nine tails. We poison ourselves slowly with alcohol and drugs and food instead of quickly with cyanide.
We doctors are taught that everything can be understood, parsed, categorized, and diagnosed. By extension, it can then be wrangled, manipulated, excised, zapped, and annihilated.
Doctors are healers. Fixers. Doers. Changers.
Sometimes, the irresistible force of our indomitable wills and boundless energies rush headlong into the immovable objects of government oversight, social change and inertia.
We want to turn the aircraft carrier on a dime, to change course one hundred eighty degrees now. A big ship can technically be turned around in just a few minutes. The problem is, the deck will pitch at an angle of thirty degrees and everything that’s not tied down will slide off into the sea.
How do you handle the day to day frustrations in your life? Are most of them external or do you fight internal frustrations that only your closest friends see? Do you really expect to turn your ship around, and what things in your life will slide into the sea and be lost if you turn things around too fast?