In the extremely competitive environment of becoming physicians, many of us have had to develop attitudes that we always have to be better than others.  Our self-worth was often based on our grades and our accomplishments, and when we didn’t meet those factors, we became extremely self-critical.

Many of us used the mentality of “not being good enough” to motivate ourselves to work harder.  Unfortunately, this negative self-talk often persists later into our careers and personal lives and we continue to criticize ourselves without empathy or compassion.

It’s this lack of self-compassion that often drives us into depression, anxiety and burnout.

In her book, “Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Oneself,” Dr. Kristin Neff writes about the negative impacts that low self-compassion can have on our overall well-being and then provides steps we can take to improve it.

Evidence has shown that high levels of self-compassion lead to proactive behaviors to improve self-care, and is a key component to striving for one’s journey to wellness.  As physicians, we are worthy of the same high levels of compassion that we give to others and need to learn how to accept it from ourselves.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Michael Lee and Dr. Pam Honsberger (AAMD, Orange County) will co-present on the topic of Caring for Oneself to Care for Others at the Jeffrey Weisz, MD, Wellness Conference later this month.

Book review by
Michael Young Lee, MD
Family Medicine
Orange County