NaBloPoMo 2017: Field Notes from a Life in Medicine
I’m so grateful for my many friends who make a daily practice of examining and reflecting on feelings, behavior, and meaning. We see each other often and trade stories of enlightening, demoralizing, enraging, moving, curious, inspiring, dismaying, confusing, validating, and human experiences. Tonight one of them texted me about a conversation with a fellow cosmic journeyer: “Wise Friend told me that when he’s really wrong is when he’s the most defensive and I thought about it and it’s true for me, too.”
It didn’t take me long to relate viscerally to this message. I tried reading The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford some years ago. It’s all about facing our specific areas of self-loathing and overcoming them with I don’t know what. Because while I usually take pride in my ability to explore my insides and be with the ugly, I could not make it through that book. When I got to the comprehensive self-loathing-identification exercise, I had to stop, and my subconscious gnarled such that I picked a fight with the husband that lasted two weeks. I like to think that I have evolved since then, that my inner life is slightly less gnarly these days. I now choose to work through my self-loathing one small piece at a time, in small doses with my therapist, on and off.
I texted back tonight from my gut, “I think it’s true for all of us, most defensive when most wrong. Our consciences know better than our egos.” It was one of those unguarded moments that allows for a new (for me) expression for an old concept. And now I have a new idea to consider: how do conscience and ego interact, and what are the products of their collaboration and/or competition? More importantly, how does the interaction (entanglement?) show up in our relationships? Marriage, parenting, friendship, physician-patient? How can we manage these relationships optimally through exploring this mental/emotional interplay? Maybe I’m overthinking… If it’s mostly true that our consciences know better than our egos, then maybe I can just continue practicing awareness of Ego’s tendency to bully Conscience, and training Conscience to peacefully and firmly Resist.