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Over the years I have had many patients and friends share with me their experience of feeling “dismissed” by the doctor they were seeing.  It may have been a dismissal of symptoms or feelings or they felt they were not listened to.

Having reflected on their experiences, I recalled times when I had acted in the same way as a provider…when I was too overwhelmed to let one more thing inside my mind, heart and body.  While at first glance this seems like a valid strategy, it is actually an ineffectual one for the provider and probably harmful, or at least hurtful, for the patient.

What happens when we deny another’s experience is they begin to not trust themselves and viola we have created a victim, or disempowered another person.  When we deny another’s feelings, we deny their humanity, as well as our own.

I said many times over the years of practicing Obstetrics, “Thank goodness for epidurals.  If there were not epidurals, I couldn’t do this job.”  I started to question why I said that.  What has come forth is that I could not be with my own pain, thereby how could I be present and attend to any one else’s pain?  Whether is it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual pain, unless we are able to be with and attend to our own pain, we cannot honor and attend to another’s pain.

We all have pain from minor disappointments to major tragedies.  This is the nature of living this life.  The beauty of such is it provides us the needed contrast to experience happiness, as well as the fuel to heal.

In order to be an effectual healer, and we all are healers, we need to first cultivate the capacity to face and be with our own pain.  Then secondarily without effort, we transmit that healing force to all those we interact with no matter our profession.  Although overused, when taken to heart and felt, this is the essence of Gandhi’s saying “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  Many blessings!

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