Caring Less

I have been given two life changing pieces of advice by colleagues. First: pick a side of the parking ramp, north or south, and always park there. It will save you a lot of time and frustration (and embarrassment) wandering around the ramp at the end of a long day. Pleasures of the simple, as my mom would say.

Second: care less. This one is a little more complicated. I was all in on my adminmistrative job, and I was becoming enraged. There were things that were very wrong and had to change. I was throwing my full force at these issues, making no progress. A wise friend, also a physician administrator, sat me down and talked me through it. Once he finished asking questions and listening to the answers, he said “Hmmmm……Maybe you just need to care less.”

“Maybe you just need to care less”

I was startled, even offended. As a doctor, caring is binary – you do or you don’t. There are no gradations, no caring “a lot”, “more”, “some”, “less”. You care or you don’t care. You’re all in or you’re not in it at all. It has to be that way when we are caring for people’s lives. But there are very few other things in life that work that way. A binary approach to caring is a prerequisite of being a physician. But it is an uwise approach to most other things in life.

Since then, I’ve realized there are things I can’t change – things that should be changed but aren’t ready yet – and I do need to care about them, but less. I put my energy where it can be used, not dissipated. It may not, at first, be where my passion lies. But satisfaction comes as I see change bloom. Passion follows. I find a new thing to “care more” about.

2 thoughts on “Caring Less

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  1. So true! I literally park in one of the same set of ten spots 95% of the time. So much easier. In regards to caring less, I might counter with the idea of “caring enough”. There is an amount of care that each situation needs. And we should care enough to get there. I think it is instinctually difficult for physicians to care less. But if we can begin to critically think about our care like a key ingredient in a recipe, it becomes easier to understand that even though you might have the best bag of salt in the world, putting it all in ruins the soup and doesn’t leave any left for the cake.

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    1. Hi Bob. I think “caring enough” is a better way to put it. I probably wouldn’t have been so put off by the advise initially if it had been framed that way. But the essence is the same and I know I needed permission to “care enough” and stop obsessing. Thanks for reading and commenting. You always make me think 🙂

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