Healing Ourselves Can Help Heal Others

Dr. Jonathan Fisher, Harvard trained physician, believes that supporting not only others but ourselves can truly create a compassionate healing environment.

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When we allow ourselves to practice self-care, Dr. Jonathan Fisher trusts that we can achieve anything. Putting ourselves first can make all the difference in all aspects of our lives. 

Thank you so much for your time! I know you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what early experiences brought you to choosing a career in the medical profession?

Thank you so much for the invitation and for the interview! In a way, my future in medicine was predetermined. My father was our small town’s doctor, and his shingle hung on the sycamore tree in front of our house. Patients would come in and out. I am the youngest of seven children and all of us chose to follow in his very big and inspiring footsteps.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you in your career as a doctor?

After over 20 years in medicine there is no single story that captures what it’s like. I will share that one evening as an attending, I had a moment to rest after being called back into the hospital for one of several emergencies. I was lying in the bed, looking at my pager, feeling quite hopeless about my future and overwhelmed by the existential nature of being a cardiologist. In the next moment I had a vision of feeling overwhelmed as I saw a giant wave crashing over me. And then it occurred to me that a shift in my thinking might free me from my pain. I began imagining that perhaps instead of drowning, I was surfing. I was surfing at the top of the wave with a unique view of the current state of health care. It was after that moment that I felt empowered to share my stories.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting out on your career? What lesson did you learn from that?

This is a great question. No easy answer comes to mind. The reason is because for over a decade, I viewed all mistakes as potentially deadly to my patients and to my own reputation and career. It was that sense of dreading mistakes that led to a chronic and relentless sense of stress that is shared by so many of our colleagues.

To #DareToCare means to survive and thrive in today’s medical world. How do you take care of yourself? What’s the routine you must do to thrive every day?

For me, the practice begins first thing in the morning before getting out of bed. I take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and tap into the sensations in my body, reminding myself that I am not my thoughts. I then consider people and events that I am grateful for in my life and offer thanks. Next I remember that I am loved and that I love, and bring to mind my community of support and belonging. Finally, I set my intention for the day relating to maintaining a kind open presence, and I visualize myself going through the day maintaining that stance. This is one of many self-care practices that have helped me stay grounded amid the chaos.

I write a series of letters to my God-daughter in my latest book.  In that same vein, what are 5 things you would tell your younger self? 

1. You are worthy of love exactly as you are.

2. Nothing heals like love.

3. You are not the thoughts or feelings that arise. You are so much more than that.

4. You are not alone.

5. Be kind to yourself

How can medical professionals reclaim heart-based healing amid pandemic, political, and other pressures?

First we must heal ourselves. This work takes time, commitment, and compassion for our own history and present moment. Only when we develop deep self-compassion, and especially unconditional self-love, can we begin to offer healing to others and help them tap into their own heart’s wisdom and true potential.

Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your work as a healthcare professional? Can you explain?

“Hardwiring Happiness” by Rick Hansen helped me understand the concept of self-directed neuroplasticity. I remain fascinated by the potential of the human mind and spirit to overcome obstacles and achieve great things, even while rewiring the neural networks we have inherited or developed as a result of our past conditioning.

Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence in the healthcare community. If you could inspire other doctors and nurses to bring change to affect the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Said another way, what difference do you see needs to be made for our collective future?

I firmly believe that if we are to care for our brothers and sisters around the world, the wounded healers among us need to heal and support each other. Our leaders must recognize that caring for those who give the care yields the greatest return on investment.

How can people connect with you?

Visit www.endingphysicianburnout.com and learn about the world’s first global summit to help heal our healers and end the crisis of burnout affecting all healthcare workers around the world. You can also find me on Linkedin, YouTube, and other social media platforms by searching for HappyHeartMD.

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