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Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?

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Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Shaun Ivan Muzic 6/9/14 9:46 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Michael A Speese 6/9/14 10:05 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Shaun Ivan Muzic 6/9/14 10:15 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Michael A Speese 6/9/14 10:53 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Shaun Ivan Muzic 6/9/14 11:04 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Michael A Speese 6/9/14 11:25 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Shaun Ivan Muzic 6/9/14 11:38 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Michael A Speese 6/9/14 12:09 PM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Michael A Speese 6/9/14 11:28 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Daniel M. Ingram 6/9/14 11:25 PM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Tom Tom 6/10/14 3:00 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Shaun Ivan Muzic 6/10/14 3:36 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? J J 6/10/14 7:50 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Shaun Ivan Muzic 6/10/14 8:00 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? J J 6/10/14 8:23 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Shaun Ivan Muzic 6/10/14 8:38 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Daniel M. Ingram 6/10/14 12:46 PM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Shaun Ivan Muzic 6/11/14 3:23 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Eva Nie 6/13/14 1:30 PM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Jack Hatfield 6/15/14 7:01 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Eva Nie 6/15/14 1:23 PM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Jack Hatfield 6/16/14 6:26 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Eva Nie 6/16/14 12:46 PM
Replies Shaun Ivan Muzic 6/16/14 2:30 PM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Shaun Ivan Muzic 6/16/14 4:51 PM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Jack Hatfield 6/17/14 3:08 PM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Michael A Speese 6/10/14 2:00 PM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Michael A Speese 6/10/14 2:26 PM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Shaun Ivan Muzic 6/11/14 3:15 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Daniel M. Ingram 6/11/14 4:14 PM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Shaun Ivan Muzic 6/12/14 2:34 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Daniel M. Ingram 6/13/14 3:01 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Michael A Speese 6/13/14 9:46 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? J J 6/10/14 8:20 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Tom Tom 6/11/14 1:23 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Shaun Ivan Muzic 6/11/14 3:18 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Eva Nie 6/11/14 12:03 PM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Shaun Ivan Muzic 6/12/14 2:06 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Eva Nie 6/12/14 12:32 PM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Eva Nie 6/13/14 1:18 PM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Eric M W 6/16/14 7:51 AM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Eva Nie 6/16/14 12:03 PM
RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully? Not Tao 6/17/14 6:33 PM
Please, I ask for your advice.

I'm a failing student. I want to change my life, and I've found the dharma. It makes so much sense to me. So now, I want to start following the path wholeheartedly. I find that the direction of the Buddha helps me deal with these emotions, though slowly. My question is: I have an enormous amount of irrational fear while I'm studying, or at least trying to study - which is the reason I've been avoiding it all the time. I've been pathologically avoiding it for at least a year now. But I have faith that with committed action, new understanding, and stopping all this avoidance, I can start turning this around.

Is it better to trying to start studying gradually or fully? As in, should I aim to increase the amount of time I study a day (2 hours the first day, then 3 hours, 4 hours), or should I start straight out by studying 8 hours a day every day? Should I aim to feel as much discomfort as possible or practice right effort like in the Sona Sutta?

Or, even if you deem the question too specific, how did you start practicing morality?

Please tell me what you think. I'd like to have instructions so I can at least put my mind to rest about them and not having to doubt them. I want to start applying myself correctly.

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/9/14 10:05 AM as a reply to Shaun Ivan Muzic.
Could you ellaborate a little bit?  When does the fear arise?  Is it while you're studying or before you start you have aversions?  If it arises during study, about how long into study does it happen?  What does it feel like when it happens and how are you reacting to it currently?

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/9/14 10:15 AM as a reply to Michael A Speese.
Thank you for your interest! During the day, when I'm not studying I feel completely normal, even happy most of the time. This, though, is mostly due to the fact that I've somehow managed to learn not to think of studying... emoticon even though I'm slowly flushing my life down the drain...

The anxiety (which at times makes me scream into a cushion) starts when I try to study. Even more precisely, as soon as I have the intention to study I feel the aversion, but when I actually start it's like I have a million thoughts in my head. "I'm going to fail this time too, I'm not going to make it, it's useless, there's not enough time, I can't study with these thoughts, Everyone thinks I'm a moron, I'm so dumb, This is so uninteresting, I want to distract myself so badly"...

Now, I know everyone experiences these thoughts at some level... for me though, it feels impossible even to read. I find myself reading the same paragraph for the 5th time without actually remembering anything. The only thing I remember is all the anxious thoughts I have.

I've been avoiding it for this reason, but now I see it's only making it worse. So I want to ask you: is it better to work through these feelings gradually, or put my foot down and insist on studying as much as possible, regardless of my feelings? Should I aim to practice "in the flow", or to experience the discomfort strongly and analyze it?

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/9/14 10:53 AM as a reply to Shaun Ivan Muzic.
I've been there Shaun and it sure doesn't feel good.  If you are approaching this from an insight meditation point of view, something you could try would be to try not to focus on content, but focus on feeling the sensations that arise as they come up.  For instance, a thought may pop into your head such as "I'm going to fail" while you're studying.  Instead of paying attention to the thought of failure, see if you can't recognize the actual feeling that comes up when this thought arises.  This could be done by either feeling bodily sensations or by recognizing the emotion (which can be trickier).  Follow that feeling for a little while and see how it changes over time, as it ultimately will.  For example, maybe when this thought arises you notice your breathing gets quicker and more shallow, or you feel sensations in your face or abdomen.  Just pick one of those sensations and follow it.

If you are using emotions as your object, perhaps you notice that you are feeling fear or something else, and you just watch that feeling change and dissapate as it always will.

Many times anxiety stems from thoughts of the future.  Thoughts like "I'm going to fail" and "there's not enough time" are future oriented.  They're not happening right now but are worries of what could happen in the future.  Try to stay present minded as much as you can.  It sometimes helps to break down your time increments.

While in school, I found this helpful.  I would think, "oh no, I've got 100 pages to read and I just started. What am I going to do? I'm never going to learn it all...".  You can set an intention to stay more in the present such as for the next 2 minutes I am going to focus on really learning page 1.  If you're still not absorbing anything, even break it down by the second by setting an intention "I am going to read and absorb this next sentence".

As far as time, its really a matter of what you can handle.  For you dive in and sit to study for 8 hours straight, only to sit in anxiety of 7+ hours wouldn't be all that productive, however sitting for only 5 minutes to study wouldn't be enough time either.  See what you are capable of and try pushing enough that you can challenge yourself a little, but not so much that you are making it even harder for yourself.

There's a saying, "don't feel your way into actions, but act your way into feelings".  When you think of studying, you may feel anxious so your natural reaction is to wait until you don't feel anxious so you can study.  How you could apply that to your studies would be don't wait until you feel like studying, just start studying.  A schedule can help you battle feelings of unpreparedness.  For instance, set a schedule that from 6-8 you're going to study and when 8 arrives, you're done no matter what.  This will make it such that you know when you have to study and when you don't, and may help you focus during that time.

I had very similar problems in school and can tell you what has helped me, but if my advice is not helpful, be open to other suggestions and see what works for you.  Good luck and feel free to follow up here if you have any questions.

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/9/14 11:04 AM as a reply to Michael A Speese.
Michael A Speesler:
I've been there Shaun and it sure doesn't feel good.  If you are approaching this from an insight meditation point of view, something you could try would be to try not to focus on content, but focus on feeling the sensations that arise as they come up.  For instance, a thought may pop into your head such as "I'm going to fail" while you're studying.  Instead of paying attention to the thought of failure, see if you can't recognize the actual feeling that comes up when this thought arises.  This could be done by either feeling bodily sensations or by recognizing the emotion (which can be trickier).  Follow that feeling for a little while and see how it changes over time, as it ultimately will.  For example, maybe when this thought arises you notice your breathing gets quicker and more shallow, or you feel sensations in your face or abdomen.  Just pick one of those sensations and follow it.

If you are using emotions as your object, perhaps you notice that you are feeling fear or something else, and you just watch that feeling change and dissapate as it always will.

Many times anxiety stems from thoughts of the future.  Thoughts like "I'm going to fail" and "there's not enough time" are future oriented.  They're not happening right now but are worries of what could happen in the future.  Try to stay present minded as much as you can.  It sometimes helps to break down your time increments.

While in school, I found this helpful.  I would think, "oh no, I've got 100 pages to read and I just started. What am I going to do? I'm never going to learn it all...".  You can set an intention to stay more in the present such as for the next 2 minutes I am going to focus on really learning page 1.  If you're still not absorbing anything, even break it down by the second by setting an intention "I am going to read and absorb this next sentence".

As far as time, its really a matter of what you can handle.  For you dive in and sit to study for 8 hours straight, only to sit in anxiety of 7+ hours wouldn't be all that productive, however sitting for only 5 minutes to study wouldn't be enough time either.  See what you are capable of and try pushing enough that you can challenge yourself a little, but not so much that you are making it even harder for yourself.

There's a saying, "don't feel your way into actions, but act your way into feelings".  When you think of studying, you may feel anxious so your natural reaction is to wait until you don't feel anxious so you can study.  How you could apply that to your studies would be don't wait until you feel like studying, just start studying.  A schedule can help you battle feelings of unpreparedness.  For instance, set a schedule that from 6-8 you're going to study and when 8 arrives, you're done no matter what.  This will make it such that you know when you have to study and when you don't, and may help you focus during that time.

I had very similar problems in school and can tell you what has helped me, but if my advice is not helpful, be open to other suggestions and see what works for you.  Good luck and feel free to follow up here if you have any questions.

Thank you for personal and thorough answer, Michael. I think you're right. The question that most bothered me was whether I should, straight from the start, give myself fully to studying (thinking that this might lead to improvement faster) or whether I should take it up until where I can feel a moderate amount of discomfort, and stop there. Starting and stopping. Though I don't have a grasp of how I can stay present-minded when all these thoughts start attacking, I guess the best alternative to staying in the present is study in small amounts of time and acquire the habit through moderation... though I know that it's going to take me some time.

However, if I could ask just a final question: while I'm studying, is it correct to say that I just need to briefly notice the sensation and try to focus at the subject at hand? Or do I need to follow the feeling and investigate it?

Thank you again emoticon

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/9/14 11:25 AM as a reply to Shaun Ivan Muzic.
The longer term goal of feeling the sensations while studying is to eventually get to a point where the sensations don't take over.  If the feelings are so much that you're not studying anyways during that time, take the time to examine the feeling.  In other words, when you're not feeling the sensations, you are generating thoughts that lead to more anxiety and lead to a further inability to study.  The idea is to stop the cycle. 

When it comes up, you could try rating the intensity of it on a scale of 1-10, feel the sensations for 10 seconds or so, and rate it again until it seems to lower to the point where you can study again.  If it doesn't subside right away, don't get caught in thoughts like "this isn't subsiding" or "I can't make it go away", just keep following it and it will eventually go down.  It may even go up before it goes down. I find looking at physical sensations easier than dealing with emotions as sometimes looking at emotions we can get too stuck in content.  For instance if anxiety arises, its much easier to look at and skillfully deal with breathing patterns.

Eventually, you'll be studying and anxiety may arise and you'll be able to look at it and think "there's that anxiety" and observe it melt away and continue studying.

You might try setting an intention of "I will study for 1 hour and if I notice that I am not studying and am taken over by anxiety, I will observe that anxiety for x amount of time and then try studying again"

Even if you don't follow the sensations for very long, just taking an instant and noticing the fact of "I'm feeling anxious and I'm no longer absorbing the material" is a great start.  Just by getting that far, you're anxiety level is likely to to not go up as much.

Its going to take some time, so be patient with yourself.

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/9/14 11:28 AM as a reply to Shaun Ivan Muzic.
Another place to check would be if your school has a counselor's office.  They deal with these types of problems all the time, so if you feel like its too much do it on your own, take advantage of the resources the school provides.

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/9/14 11:38 AM as a reply to Michael A Speese.
Michael A Speesler:
The longer term goal of feeling the sensations while studying is to eventually get to a point where the sensations don't take over.  If the feelings are so much that you're not studying anyways during that time, take the time to examine the feeling.  In other words, when you're not feeling the sensations, you are generating thoughts that lead to more anxiety and lead to a further inability to study.  The idea is to stop the cycle. 

When it comes up, you could try rating the intensity of it on a scale of 1-10, feel the sensations for 10 seconds or so, and rate it again until it seems to lower to the point where you can study again.  If it doesn't subside right away, don't get caught in thoughts like "this isn't subsiding" or "I can't make it go away", just keep following it and it will eventually go down.  It may even go up before it goes down. I find looking at physical sensations easier than dealing with emotions as sometimes looking at emotions we can get too stuck in content.  For instance if anxiety arises, its much easier to look at and skillfully deal with breathing patterns.

Eventually, you'll be studying and anxiety may arise and you'll be able to look at it and think "there's that anxiety" and observe it melt away and continue studying.

You might try setting an intention of "I will study for 1 hour and if I notice that I am not studying and am taken over by anxiety, I will observe that anxiety for x amount of time and then try studying again"

Even if you don't follow the sensations for very long, just taking an instant and noticing the fact of "I'm feeling anxious and I'm no longer absorbing the material" is a great start.  Just by getting that far, you're anxiety level is likely to to not go up as much.

Its going to take some time, so be patient with yourself.


This, in my opinion, is one of the best, step-by-step, precise answers I've ever heard, and I've searched for a lot of answers. I might not even need any further answering emoticon Thank you!

And about the school counselor - sadly, he is very influenced by his Christian religion. As soon as he heard I was studying buddhism, he attributed it to "falling out of grace".
Thank you again for your reply! Have a nice day emoticon

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/9/14 12:09 PM as a reply to Shaun Ivan Muzic.
I'm glad you found the advice helpful.  Keep us up to date and let us know how it works out.  Best of luck in school!

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/9/14 11:25 PM as a reply to Shaun Ivan Muzic.
You sent me an email, but I am replying here if that is ok. Plenty of good advice has been given above.

First: consider why you are studying and what that knowledge is going to do. It really helps to remember why you are learning what you are learning: it helps with the motivation a lot. If you really love what you are doing, if you understand why you should know something, if you find it intrinsically fascinating, then that helps. If you don't have those things, it is going to be much harder to do. Is it possible that you have forgotten how amazing your subject matter is and why it is so relevant? Considered thinking more about the people you are learning it to help? Need to take a break and go do a year or service somewhere to remember how important what you are learning is and how it is applied and how many people need people who know how to care for them? There is nothing like a year in the trenches somewhere to help remind you of the why of the thing, to reconnect you with something out beyond your own fear. Volunteer in some inner city clinic, or go do a medical mission month or something and remember that the world needs this stuff.

I should mention that it just might not be your thing and you might not be able to admit that. If you don't find the body and physiology and the like totally amazing, you will likely really resent the endless continuous education that is involved in board certification and recertification, in the endless exams and CME, in the endless articles and things you will read to try to keep up with how fast the field changes. If all of that isn't you, you might want to do something else. Consider why you are in medical school: better be for the love of the thing, that is for sure, as no amount of money makes it worth it, I can tell you for certain. I deal with way too many consultants who really don't love what they do and subject everyone around them to their misery, as anything you really don't love gets really old at 80+hours per week no matter how much they pay. Do not, under any circumstances, become some second-rate, bitter, burned out physician. The world doesn't need those. Do something else with your talents, which must be substantial if you got that far, something you love, something worthwhile, and you and those around you will all thank you.

When studying the huge amounts of information you are going to have to learn to be successful, each of us had to figure out something new about ourselves, how we learned, what made the long hours bearable, and the like, as the volume of information was like drinking from a fire hose. Some watched videos. Some solved problems. Some studied in groups. Some assigned everyone the task of outlining part of the material and then would meet and discuss the outlines. There were endless variants of these sorts of strategies. Some had to draw diagrams. Some had to do case-based learning, as only by that sort of human relevance did they find that they cared. Some learned by listening to podcasts. Some could just crank for hour after hour through the material alone, though this was definitely not a common strategy without some of the others.

It is possible that you crossed the A&P and now are in some Dark Night phase, which would explain the real-world dysfunction and the fear, so, if that is the case, can you find a way to take a semister or year off and go do something relevant like serious intensive meditation practice somewhere cloaked in things like "MBSR" or "Alternative and Complementary Medicine" or something like that? A friend from medical school found himself in a predicament like yours and did that and got stream entry during that year and it really helped, and it didn't derail his medical career but gave him alternative medicine cred that he used later on. This can be done if you are creative in how you frame it and set it up.

Any of that helpful?

Daniel

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/10/14 3:00 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Above points that deserve more emphasis:

It is possible that you crossed the A&P and now are in some Dark Night phase, which would explain the real-world dysfunction and the fear, so, if that is the case, can you find a way to take a semister or year off and go do something relevant like serious intensive meditation practice somewhere cloaked in things like "MBSR" or "Alternative and Complementary Medicine" or something like that?


Is it possible that you have forgotten how amazing your subject matter is and why it is so relevant




RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/10/14 3:36 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
You sent me an email, but I am replying here if that is ok. Plenty of good advice has been given above.

First: consider why you are studying and what that knowledge is going to do. It really helps to remember why you are learning what you are learning: it helps with the motivation a lot. If you really love what you are doing, if you understand why you should know something, if you find it intrinsically fascinating, then that helps. If you don't have those things, it is going to be much harder to do. Is it possible that you have forgotten how amazing your subject matter is and why it is so relevant? Considered thinking more about the people you are learning it to help? Need to take a break and go do a year or service somewhere to remember how important what you are learning is and how it is applied and how many people need people who know how to care for them? There is nothing like a year in the trenches somewhere to help remind you of the why of the thing, to reconnect you with something out beyond your own fear. Volunteer in some inner city clinic, or go do a medical mission month or something and remember that the world needs this stuff.

I should mention that it just might not be your thing and you might not be able to admit that. If you don't find the body and physiology and the like totally amazing, you will likely really resent the endless continuous education that is involved in board certification and recertification, in the endless exams and CME, in the endless articles and things you will read to try to keep up with how fast the field changes. If all of that isn't you, you might want to do something else. Consider why you are in medical school: better be for the love of the thing, that is for sure, as no amount of money makes it worth it, I can tell you for certain. I deal with way too many consultants who really don't love what they do and subject everyone around them to their misery, as anything you really don't love gets really old at 80+hours per week no matter how much they pay. Do not, under any circumstances, become some second-rate, bitter, burned out physician. The world doesn't need those. Do something else with your talents, which must be substantial if you got that far, something you love, something worthwhile, and you and those around you will all thank you.

When studying the huge amounts of information you are going to have to learn to be successful, each of us had to figure out something new about ourselves, how we learned, what made the long hours bearable, and the like, as the volume of information was like drinking from a fire hose. Some watched videos. Some solved problems. Some studied in groups. Some assigned everyone the task of outlining part of the material and then would meet and discuss the outlines. There were endless variants of these sorts of strategies. Some had to draw diagrams. Some had to do case-based learning, as only by that sort of human relevance did they find that they cared. Some learned by listening to podcasts. Some could just crank for hour after hour through the material alone, though this was definitely not a common strategy without some of the others.

It is possible that you crossed the A&P and now are in some Dark Night phase, which would explain the real-world dysfunction and the fear, so, if that is the case, can you find a way to take a semister or year off and go do something relevant like serious intensive meditation practice somewhere cloaked in things like "MBSR" or "Alternative and Complementary Medicine" or something like that? A friend from medical school found himself in a predicament like yours and did that and got stream entry during that year and it really helped, and it didn't derail his medical career but gave him alternative medicine cred that he used later on. This can be done if you are creative in how you frame it and set it up.

Any of that helpful?

Daniel


Thank you for your thorough answer, Daniel. I was hoping you'd reply, since you too had to pass medical exams and came out on the other side. About whether I crossed the A&P - no, I don't think so. Though in the small time I've practiced I have had some insights and some great developments that improved my life, I don't think I'm even close to effective concentration practices. I guess it must have to do with the morality part of life, specifically Livelihood, not being even remotely in check.

I must admit, I think you're right regarding motivation. I just assumed that if I managed to work as much as the others, that I'd just breeze through this. But the truth is, I never really liked medicine. There were times when I'd get a high out of managing to get a high grade, but truthfully, I find it uninteresting. A thought I always had in my head is "Why hadn't I insisted more with my parents?" - in high school, it turned out that I was very advanced in informatics work, learning to code small programs just for the fun of it. I yearned to study it. But my parents were categorically against it. So I decided to go through with something that would give me money instead, which was medicine. There, I finally said it out loud. The only motivation I had in medicine was the money and respect I'd earn. There were rare times when I was interested in doing something for the patients, but these thoughts were swept away by the massive amounts of data.

There's actually even more things I'm so interested in. I was considered a child prodigy at the piano, but my parents told me there would be no use in continuing to study "a hobby". On that though, they might be right. But right now I'd prefer a job that doesn't pay than continue studying this.
This problem itself has made me study so many different philosophies and religions seriously, until after going back and forth I saw Buddhism as most sound... all of it while maintaining a relatively high average.

I'll be honest. I don't like medicine. At all. But I want to start liking it. I want to start loving it. I don't want to throw 4 years of my life, and my parents sacrifices, down the drain. I want to learn to love it. I think I might commit on starting doing voluntary work at my hospital, visiting the patients and actually seeing their pain. Practicing metta towards them and towards what I'm studying. I think, and I hope, that there is a way to start loving it and seeing it as it should be seen.

What do you think?

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/10/14 7:50 AM as a reply to Shaun Ivan Muzic.
Shaun Ivan Muzic:
Daniel M. Ingram:
You sent me an email, but I am replying here if that is ok. Plenty of good advice has been given above.

First: consider why you are studying and what that knowledge is going to do. It really helps to remember why you are learning what you are learning: it helps with the motivation a lot. If you really love what you are doing, if you understand why you should know something, if you find it intrinsically fascinating, then that helps. If you don't have those things, it is going to be much harder to do. Is it possible that you have forgotten how amazing your subject matter is and why it is so relevant? Considered thinking more about the people you are learning it to help? Need to take a break and go do a year or service somewhere to remember how important what you are learning is and how it is applied and how many people need people who know how to care for them? There is nothing like a year in the trenches somewhere to help remind you of the why of the thing, to reconnect you with something out beyond your own fear. Volunteer in some inner city clinic, or go do a medical mission month or something and remember that the world needs this stuff.

I should mention that it just might not be your thing and you might not be able to admit that. If you don't find the body and physiology and the like totally amazing, you will likely really resent the endless continuous education that is involved in board certification and recertification, in the endless exams and CME, in the endless articles and things you will read to try to keep up with how fast the field changes. If all of that isn't you, you might want to do something else. Consider why you are in medical school: better be for the love of the thing, that is for sure, as no amount of money makes it worth it, I can tell you for certain. I deal with way too many consultants who really don't love what they do and subject everyone around them to their misery, as anything you really don't love gets really old at 80+hours per week no matter how much they pay. Do not, under any circumstances, become some second-rate, bitter, burned out physician. The world doesn't need those. Do something else with your talents, which must be substantial if you got that far, something you love, something worthwhile, and you and those around you will all thank you.

When studying the huge amounts of information you are going to have to learn to be successful, each of us had to figure out something new about ourselves, how we learned, what made the long hours bearable, and the like, as the volume of information was like drinking from a fire hose. Some watched videos. Some solved problems. Some studied in groups. Some assigned everyone the task of outlining part of the material and then would meet and discuss the outlines. There were endless variants of these sorts of strategies. Some had to draw diagrams. Some had to do case-based learning, as only by that sort of human relevance did they find that they cared. Some learned by listening to podcasts. Some could just crank for hour after hour through the material alone, though this was definitely not a common strategy without some of the others.

It is possible that you crossed the A&P and now are in some Dark Night phase, which would explain the real-world dysfunction and the fear, so, if that is the case, can you find a way to take a semister or year off and go do something relevant like serious intensive meditation practice somewhere cloaked in things like "MBSR" or "Alternative and Complementary Medicine" or something like that? A friend from medical school found himself in a predicament like yours and did that and got stream entry during that year and it really helped, and it didn't derail his medical career but gave him alternative medicine cred that he used later on. This can be done if you are creative in how you frame it and set it up.

Any of that helpful?

Daniel


Thank you for your thorough answer, Daniel. I was hoping you'd reply, since you too had to pass medical exams and came out on the other side. About whether I crossed the A&P - no, I don't think so. Though in the small time I've practiced I have had some insights and some great developments that improved my life, I don't think I'm even close to effective concentration practices. I guess it must have to do with the morality part of life, specifically Livelihood, not being even remotely in check.

I must admit, I think you're right regarding motivation. I just assumed that if I managed to work as much as the others, that I'd just breeze through this. But the truth is, I never really liked medicine. There were times when I'd get a high out of managing to get a high grade, but truthfully, I find it uninteresting. A thought I always had in my head is "Why hadn't I insisted more with my parents?" - in high school, it turned out that I was very advanced in informatics work, learning to code small programs just for the fun of it. I yearned to study it. But my parents were categorically against it. So I decided to go through with something that would give me money instead, which was medicine. There, I finally said it out loud. The only motivation I had in medicine was the money and respect I'd earn. There were rare times when I was interested in doing something for the patients, but these thoughts were swept away by the massive amounts of data.

There's actually even more things I'm so interested in. I was considered a child prodigy at the piano, but my parents told me there would be no use in continuing to study "a hobby". On that though, they might be right. But right now I'd prefer a job that doesn't pay than continue studying this.
This problem itself has made me study so many different philosophies and religions seriously, until after going back and forth I saw Buddhism as most sound... all of it while maintaining a relatively high average.

I'll be honest. I don't like medicine. At all. But I want to start liking it. I want to start loving it. I don't want to throw 4 years of my life, and my parents sacrifices, down the drain. I want to learn to love it. I think I might commit on starting doing voluntary work at my hospital, visiting the patients and actually seeing their pain. Practicing metta towards them and towards what I'm studying. I think, and I hope, that there is a way to start loving it and seeing it as it should be seen.

What do you think?


Dear Shaun,

It is immediately obvious to me that you don't like medicine, in fact you hate it.

I then, do not understand, why you continue to pursue it. Why even try to like it?

James .:
Shaun Ivan Muzic:
Daniel M. Ingram:
You sent me an email, but I am replying here if that is ok. Plenty of good advice has been given above.

First: consider why you are studying and what that knowledge is going to do. It really helps to remember why you are learning what you are learning: it helps with the motivation a lot. If you really love what you are doing, if you understand why you should know something, if you find it intrinsically fascinating, then that helps. If you don't have those things, it is going to be much harder to do. Is it possible that you have forgotten how amazing your subject matter is and why it is so relevant? Considered thinking more about the people you are learning it to help? Need to take a break and go do a year or service somewhere to remember how important what you are learning is and how it is applied and how many people need people who know how to care for them? There is nothing like a year in the trenches somewhere to help remind you of the why of the thing, to reconnect you with something out beyond your own fear. Volunteer in some inner city clinic, or go do a medical mission month or something and remember that the world needs this stuff.

I should mention that it just might not be your thing and you might not be able to admit that. If you don't find the body and physiology and the like totally amazing, you will likely really resent the endless continuous education that is involved in board certification and recertification, in the endless exams and CME, in the endless articles and things you will read to try to keep up with how fast the field changes. If all of that isn't you, you might want to do something else. Consider why you are in medical school: better be for the love of the thing, that is for sure, as no amount of money makes it worth it, I can tell you for certain. I deal with way too many consultants who really don't love what they do and subject everyone around them to their misery, as anything you really don't love gets really old at 80+hours per week no matter how much they pay. Do not, under any circumstances, become some second-rate, bitter, burned out physician. The world doesn't need those. Do something else with your talents, which must be substantial if you got that far, something you love, something worthwhile, and you and those around you will all thank you.

When studying the huge amounts of information you are going to have to learn to be successful, each of us had to figure out something new about ourselves, how we learned, what made the long hours bearable, and the like, as the volume of information was like drinking from a fire hose. Some watched videos. Some solved problems. Some studied in groups. Some assigned everyone the task of outlining part of the material and then would meet and discuss the outlines. There were endless variants of these sorts of strategies. Some had to draw diagrams. Some had to do case-based learning, as only by that sort of human relevance did they find that they cared. Some learned by listening to podcasts. Some could just crank for hour after hour through the material alone, though this was definitely not a common strategy without some of the others.

It is possible that you crossed the A&P and now are in some Dark Night phase, which would explain the real-world dysfunction and the fear, so, if that is the case, can you find a way to take a semister or year off and go do something relevant like serious intensive meditation practice somewhere cloaked in things like "MBSR" or "Alternative and Complementary Medicine" or something like that? A friend from medical school found himself in a predicament like yours and did that and got stream entry during that year and it really helped, and it didn't derail his medical career but gave him alternative medicine cred that he used later on. This can be done if you are creative in how you frame it and set it up.

Any of that helpful?

Daniel


Thank you for your thorough answer, Daniel. I was hoping you'd reply, since you too had to pass medical exams and came out on the other side. About whether I crossed the A&P - no, I don't think so. Though in the small time I've practiced I have had some insights and some great developments that improved my life, I don't think I'm even close to effective concentration practices. I guess it must have to do with the morality part of life, specifically Livelihood, not being even remotely in check.

I must admit, I think you're right regarding motivation. I just assumed that if I managed to work as much as the others, that I'd just breeze through this. But the truth is, I never really liked medicine. There were times when I'd get a high out of managing to get a high grade, but truthfully, I find it uninteresting. A thought I always had in my head is "Why hadn't I insisted more with my parents?" - in high school, it turned out that I was very advanced in informatics work, learning to code small programs just for the fun of it. I yearned to study it. But my parents were categorically against it. So I decided to go through with something that would give me money instead, which was medicine. There, I finally said it out loud. The only motivation I had in medicine was the money and respect I'd earn. There were rare times when I was interested in doing something for the patients, but these thoughts were swept away by the massive amounts of data.

There's actually even more things I'm so interested in. I was considered a child prodigy at the piano, but my parents told me there would be no use in continuing to study "a hobby". On that though, they might be right. But right now I'd prefer a job that doesn't pay than continue studying this.
This problem itself has made me study so many different philosophies and religions seriously, until after going back and forth I saw Buddhism as most sound... all of it while maintaining a relatively high average.

I'll be honest. I don't like medicine. At all. But I want to start liking it. I want to start loving it. I don't want to throw 4 years of my life, and my parents sacrifices, down the drain. I want to learn to love it. I think I might commit on starting doing voluntary work at my hospital, visiting the patients and actually seeing their pain. Practicing metta towards them and towards what I'm studying. I think, and I hope, that there is a way to start loving it and seeing it as it should be seen.

What do you think?


Dear Shaun,

It is immediately obvious to me that you don't like medicine, in fact you hate it.

I then, do not understand, why you continue to pursue it. Why even try to like it?

Hey James,
you may be right. But my reasons for trying to liking it are multiple, though none of them are wholesome. In order of importance:

1) My girlfriend. I love her very much, but I'd either have to give her up or make her wait for me. You see, if I gave up medicine, my parents would very probably make me go back to Bosnia to work. That would make our relationship a long-distance one, and those don't work out so well. I also wouldn't want her to think badly of me for leaving. And in the best case scenario, where she'd want to stay with me and I'd manage to convince my parents to let my study informatics, she'd have to wait for me a long time before I could get a steady job and get married, which is kind of in our plans for the last two years.

2) The money of my parents and benefactors. They placed so much trust and money in my education in the last four years. I don't want to let them down or let the money go to waste.

3) The job. I'd really like a high paying and respectful job like a medical doctor. Though it's ignoble of me to say so, it is the truth. And I really don't like the idea of going back to Bosnia.

4) The opinion of colleagues and professors. I've struck a lot of people as a very bright and talented person. I don't want to lose that.


Those are the honest reasons why I want to like it. If these reasons were to magically disappear, I'd be just so happy to quit medicine.

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/10/14 8:23 AM as a reply to Shaun Ivan Muzic.
Shaun,

You will not succeed in liking medicine, there is no way. It is not that your motivations suck, it is simply because you have no other motivations other than the ones given above. Bluntly: you feel burdened and pressured, and want to please other people.

That is simply not the way to go, YOUR welfare is supreme. You need do what is right for you, not right for anyone else. Believe me, your girlfriend, your parents, your professors, all will be pleased to see someone who follows their dreams and passions. They will be inspired by faith and have passion.

It would be completely dishonest of you to continue to study medicine, as it is barren for you, there is NOTHING left. You will be milking a dead cow, or beating a dead horse.

It's just not possible, I know how you feel, dragging on and on, thinking: if only I could get that degree and motivate myself a little more and get that job, I'll be set. Then I can do what I really want!

No, never subject yourself to something you absolutely, don't want to do. It makes no sense, this is YOUR life, you get ONE shot. Why live it for someone else? Do the right thing, quit medicine, find what you really want to do, and then do it.

Or barring that, at least have a completely open and honest talk with everyone one of those parties listed above (which I admit might not do anything at all).

It would be dishonest of me to not give this advice, you asked for advice, I am qualified to give it, take it.

Edit: Slashed some sentences, don't take life advice from me, period. However the above was my honest advice.

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/10/14 8:20 AM as a reply to Shaun Ivan Muzic.
Also,

I need to add something, traditionally in Buddhism, people who saw the drawbacks of the household life would go forth and become monks. The very purpose of monkshood was to escape suffering, born of the stifling household life.

If you can't quit medicine, because you need the money, then don't. Ideally you should be doing what you love. But ultimately, we cannot all have that.

James .:
Shaun,

You will not succeed in liking medicine, there is no way. It is not that your motivations suck, it is simply because you have no other motivations other than the ones given above. Bluntly: you feel burdened and pressured, and want to please other people.

That is simply not the way to go, YOUR welfare is supreme. You need do what is right for you, not right for anyone else. Believe me, your girlfriend, your parents, your professors, all will be pleased to see someone who follows their dreams and passions. They will be inspired by faith and have passion.

It would be completely dishonest of you to continue to study medicine, as it is barren for you, there is NOTHING left. You will be milking a dead cow, or beating a dead horse.

It's just not possible, I know how you feel, dragging on and on, thinking: if only I could get that degree and motivate myself a little more and get that job, I'll be set. Then I can do what I really want!

No, never subject yourself to something you absolutely, don't want to do. It makes no sense, this is YOUR life, you get ONE shot. Why live it for someone else? Do the right thing, quit medicine, find what you really want to do, and then do it.

Or barring that, at least have a completely open and honest talk with everyone one of those parties listed above (which I admit might not do anything at all).

It would be dishonest of me to not give this advice, you asked for advice, I am qualified to give it, take it.

Edit: Slashed some sentences, don't take life advice from me, period. However the above was my honest advice.

Thank you very much for your advice. I'd really like to take it up. However, those reasons are way too important for me, namely the first reason. I really don't want to lose her. This is why I feel I must at least try.

Perhaps things might start to change now that I have this in mind. Perhaps I wasn't working fully before because I never considered the question whether my motivation was wholesome. Perhaps this is temporary. In any case, I will try to continue. And before that, I will have that talk with these people. Everyone except my parents - as they aren't very capable of understanding and comprehending maturely, in my opinion.

Sometimes, I fantasize about that: being a monk. I've fantasized about that before I encountered the dhamma - my high school was for Catholic priests. However, I see them as thoughts of escape and avoidance, as opposed to persistence. If it was a clear, honest wish, I'd act upon it. But I don't think it is.

In any case, thank you very much for the time you took to reply emoticon I haven't talked about all this with anyone, and finally getting it out now is liberating.

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/10/14 12:46 PM as a reply to Shaun Ivan Muzic.
The prestige thing is important to consider carefully. The average doctor works pretty crazy hours unless you really go out of your way to find some cush job with good hours like working in some 9-5 urgent care somewhere or something like that, most of which won't pay that well, at least at doctor money goes (though it would still be a lot from any ordinary point of view).

So, assuming you work the standard 60-80+ hours per week at a doctor, consider that you will not have much time for anything but that. Thus, as you will spend nearly all of your waking time around techs, secretaries, nurses, midlevels, other doctors, administrators and patients, you must consider that circle when assessing prestige and what prestige means and its context.

In this case, the context of your prestige as a member of a group of doctors, as you are in that group, and your level of value will be judged against where you fall in that herd. Everyone will very rapidly figure out how you measure up regarding the things they care about, and they care about the following things:

1) Ability: since you will be judged among doctors, your level of ability will relative to them, and they are a generally impressive group, obviously, so shining in that club is not easy. Everyone will very rapidly figure out if you are smart and capable, as this is the real world, not some test, and patient outcomes depend on you knowing what you are doing. People will die more often if you don't have command of the core knowledge of medicine. That rapidly gets noticed by everyone, administrators, your medical director(s), nurses, patients, families, and your colleagues. Unless you have lots of ability, in the medical world you won't have prestige. Thus, better study or get out, as without a really thorough and fluent knowledge of the core aspects of medicine, bad things will occur, everyone will know it, and you will rapidly gain the reputation of being a poor doctor. Given that you will be spending 60-80+ hours with people who then think of youy as a poor doctor, there will be no thrill of prestige just because you have an MD after your name, I promise you, and there will be much internal stress unless you are the sort of rare person who can suck and not care. I know doctors who appear to fall into that category: their capacity to handle and/or ignore that internal dissonance is amazing to me.

2) Caring: you will also be judged on whether or not you care about patients and medicine. The patients and families and nurses will all very rapidly figure out if you really are engaged, if your heart is really in it, if you really give a damn. If you don't, you will feel the dark stares instantly, feel the bad reactions from families and patients immediately, day after day, interaction after interaction. You will count the complaints as they pile up, mark your time by the visits to your administrator's offices for conversations related to everything that goes badly because of this, and likely finally get sued, as patient sue doctors who they don't feel care about them. This is not a test: this is real life, and your real life as a doctor who doesn't care about medicine will likely suck. Lawsuits ruin lives, marriages, careers. All your not very hard work will crumble due to not giving it the attention that patient care deserves. Just as the rewards of being a doctor are great, so the penalties for failure are pretty severe. Working 12-16+ hours days doing something really hard and stressful that you also really don't care about leads to burnout, drug and alcohol addiction, serious marital problems, depression, illness, and even death. I see this all the time in my colleagues who should have done something else.

3) Friendliness: seems related to caring, but I know doctors that care and aren't particularly friendly. Friendly doctors do better. They still have to have the other things, but if you are really nice to work with you will do better, and you are much less likely to be friendly if you are constantly barraged by complaints, if you are aware that everyone around you doesn't feel you know what you are doing, if you are being sued, if patients respond badly to your bad care, and if you yourself feel like a fraud, which you will feel like if you don't know what you are doing, and you would be right.

In short, if you are not a caring, well-educated, smart, kind, able, skilled, engaged physician, you will not have prestige during 60-80+ hours of your waking life, and, in fact, will have the reverse. You will paradoxically be very low on the prestige list, below that of good nurses, below that of good techs, below that of even really helpful janitors and even below that of good administrators. You will be looked at like we look at all the doctors that don't know what they are doing and don't care: we feel they are a dangerous waste of time and brain power who shouldn't be allowed near patients.

Your imagined notion that somehow when you come home to crash after a long day that the prestige you get at home and from your family will compensate for that: it won't. If you are miserable all day long, your spouse will know it and feel it when you get home. There is nothing attractive about that, nothing sexy about it, nothing that makes a partner happy. If they are the sort of superficial person who would care about the fact that you are a doctor who makes good money and cares little about whether or not you are actually happy: don't marrry that person. When you crash and burn, which you likely will, they will take you for what you are worth and skip off to the next sucker. I see this on a regular basis and could list doctor after doctor this has happened to. If they are actually a decent, loving person who really cares about you, then their good heart will break when they see what working like a dog at something you don't really care about does to you: don't do that to them, as it is not fair. It is just tragic.

I will tell you a story that my father told me. He endured a really brutal residency back in the days when they were even harder than they are now in a totally malignant New England hospital that will go unmentioned. They worked 100+ hour weeks. They slept little. They were hazed mercilessly. Luckily, my father loves medicine, but is till totally sucked having to work that hard in that environment for that long. A week from the end of this brutal three-year residency they were all sitting around doing charts when one of the residents that had seemed even more miserable than the rest of them got a phone call. He picked up the phone listened for a minute, said nothing, put down the phone, took off his white coat and stethescope and started walking out the door. The other residents asked him where he was going. He simply said, "My mother has died and I was only doing this for her. Now I don't have to do this anymore," walked out the door and never practiced medicine again. Seven years of misery for nothing.

Again, either figure out how to love it or don't do it. It is that simple and straightforward. It is basically guaranteed that if you don't heed this advice bad things will occur, both in your life and in the lives of your patients, as very soon the decisions will be yours, the responsibility will be yours, and the risks and rewards will be yours. Don't ignore that risks part as you are all focused on the rewards of meeting your family's expectations, as the risks aren't worth that. Medicine is a high-stakes game, and you better not walk up to the table if you don't intend to win and aren't willing to do what it takes, as what you lose when you lose will blow your mind.

Back to the A&P point: are you 100% certain you never crossed it? Interested in the priesthood and monkhood and the like, hanging out on obscure internet forums about hardcore practice, agonizing about dharma pursuits and having career dysfunction: totally certain you aren't having some Dark Night stuff mixed into your very confused career motivations?

Could try to do what I did: I spent a year in India (or Thailand or Burma or some place like that) doing volunteer medical service along with taking breaks to do serious meditation retreats in good monasteries. That year gave me lots of medical cred, also gave me lots of motivation to learn to care for people well, as the need was so staggering that it would be really hard for even the most uncompassionate idiot to not feel the impetus to do something, as well as solved my Dark Night problem and allowed me to get back to my career path with a much more galvanized and inspired vision of how great it would be to really know how to care for people and make a difference in the world. I also learned a ton about all sorts of diseases that we don't see here much and learned a whole lot about myself. I was inspired by doctors like Dr Jack Prager who started the street clinic that I worked in in Calcutta called Calcutta Rescue, and by the difference that all that training made in your capacity to make a real difference in people's lives. That growth helped tremendously, and when I came back a bit wiser and more mature to medical training it made all the difference.

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/10/14 2:00 PM as a reply to Shaun Ivan Muzic.
Let me say, the place you are in is not an easy place to be.  I had a similar experience to yours.  While in undergrad, I hated my studies.  They did not interest me in any way, but I knew it was necessary to complete my undergrad studies to go beyond that.  My parents and some people around me were really pressing for me to go to medical school.  I was always good at school and even though I didn't like my studies in undergrad, I still did well.  I was watching a documentary about a football player who was pressured by his dad to play and made it to the NFL and he asked the question, "just because we are good at something, does that mean we are meant to do it? "

I wound up going to chiropractic school which was really where my heart was.  At first, many people around me were disappointed.  I missed out on many of the things you talked about such as better money, more respect, etc., but in the end, I now really love what I do.  The people around me started to accept this when they saw how happy I was, and my family really started accepting it when they started getting chiropractic care.

All this said, sometimes the situation like the one you are in can seem like an impossible one.  Like everyone else said, you've got to do what's right for you.  If the feeling of really hating what you do is genuine, then better to switch now then wake up at 50 and realize you spent most of your life doing something you hate.

I think Daniel's advice is very good.  Perhaps some time to really evaluate your situation and think about what type of career you'd really like to pursue would be valuable.

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/10/14 2:26 PM as a reply to Michael A Speese.
I'd also like to point out that if money is a great motivator for you, you may not need a medical degree.  There are ways to make lots of money in many other professions.  Even in my profession, some of the best clinicians I know are not the ones who make the most money.  The people who make the most money in my field have a very strong business sense.  I worked for someone previously who was not a great clinician by any means, but was excellent at generating money.  Quite frankly though, he would have made money in any profession he chose most likely due to his personality.  As they say, he could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves.  I'm just pointing out that there are ways to make lots of money in many many fields, especially if you have a gift for learning systems and motivating others.

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/11/14 1:23 AM as a reply to Shaun Ivan Muzic.
It is important to note that your mental state has a significant impact on whether you find a topic interesting and engaging.  One of my majors in college was physics and when I was depressed, dysfunctional, having problems with executive functioning and very likely dark nighting I hated it and had convinced myself I had no interest whatsoever in the topic. When I became somewhat closer to normal and functional the topic proportionately became much more interesting and I was again able to understand what I was reading.

The point is that you shouldn't discount or underestimate the powerful effect that the dark night or depression can have on your perceived level of interest in something.  In the case of the dark night this can be especially powerful as it tends to put a strange existential lens of angst on pretty much everything in life.  Everything appears like it's rotting, empty, purposeless, pointless, transient, etc. 

If it's possible you can take some kind of break so that you can see this more objectively, then I would recommend you do so. 

Then again you may just have no interest whatoever in medicine and this is not dependent on your mental state and/or the dark night.  However, this might not be something you would be able to discern without getting some significant level of meditative stability (stream-entry or higher).

I'm not encouraging you to continue doing something you hate, but rather suggest you take some kind of break until you can either see things more objectively or decide to get out altogether.  

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/11/14 3:23 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
The prestige thing is important to consider carefully. The average doctor works pretty crazy hours unless you really go out of your way to find some cush job with good hours like working in some 9-5 urgent care somewhere or something like that, most of which won't pay that well, at least at doctor money goes (though it would still be a lot from any ordinary point of view).

So, assuming you work the standard 60-80+ hours per week at a doctor, consider that you will not have much time for anything but that. Thus, as you will spend nearly all of your waking time around techs, secretaries, nurses, midlevels, other doctors, administrators and patients, you must consider that circle when assessing prestige and what prestige means and its context.

In this case, the context of your prestige as a member of a group of doctors, as you are in that group, and your level of value will be judged against where you fall in that herd. Everyone will very rapidly figure out how you measure up regarding the things they care about, and they care about the following things:

1) Ability: since you will be judged among doctors, your level of ability will relative to them, and they are a generally impressive group, obviously, so shining in that club is not easy. Everyone will very rapidly figure out if you are smart and capable, as this is the real world, not some test, and patient outcomes depend on you knowing what you are doing. People will die more often if you don't have command of the core knowledge of medicine. That rapidly gets noticed by everyone, administrators, your medical director(s), nurses, patients, families, and your colleagues. Unless you have lots of ability, in the medical world you won't have prestige. Thus, better study or get out, as without a really thorough and fluent knowledge of the core aspects of medicine, bad things will occur, everyone will know it, and you will rapidly gain the reputation of being a poor doctor. Given that you will be spending 60-80+ hours with people who then think of youy as a poor doctor, there will be no thrill of prestige just because you have an MD after your name, I promise you, and there will be much internal stress unless you are the sort of rare person who can suck and not care. I know doctors who appear to fall into that category: their capacity to handle and/or ignore that internal dissonance is amazing to me.

2) Caring: you will also be judged on whether or not you care about patients and medicine. The patients and families and nurses will all very rapidly figure out if you really are engaged, if your heart is really in it, if you really give a damn. If you don't, you will feel the dark stares instantly, feel the bad reactions from families and patients immediately, day after day, interaction after interaction. You will count the complaints as they pile up, mark your time by the visits to your administrator's offices for conversations related to everything that goes badly because of this, and likely finally get sued, as patient sue doctors who they don't feel care about them. This is not a test: this is real life, and your real life as a doctor who doesn't care about medicine will likely suck. Lawsuits ruin lives, marriages, careers. All your not very hard work will crumble due to not giving it the attention that patient care deserves. Just as the rewards of being a doctor are great, so the penalties for failure are pretty severe. Working 12-16+ hours days doing something really hard and stressful that you also really don't care about leads to burnout, drug and alcohol addiction, serious marital problems, depression, illness, and even death. I see this all the time in my colleagues who should have done something else.

3) Friendliness: seems related to caring, but I know doctors that care and aren't particularly friendly. Friendly doctors do better. They still have to have the other things, but if you are really nice to work with you will do better, and you are much less likely to be friendly if you are constantly barraged by complaints, if you are aware that everyone around you doesn't feel you know what you are doing, if you are being sued, if patients respond badly to your bad care, and if you yourself feel like a fraud, which you will feel like if you don't know what you are doing, and you would be right.

In short, if you are not a caring, well-educated, smart, kind, able, skilled, engaged physician, you will not have prestige during 60-80+ hours of your waking life, and, in fact, will have the reverse. You will paradoxically be very low on the prestige list, below that of good nurses, below that of good techs, below that of even really helpful janitors and even below that of good administrators. You will be looked at like we look at all the doctors that don't know what they are doing and don't care: we feel they are a dangerous waste of time and brain power who shouldn't be allowed near patients.

Your imagined notion that somehow when you come home to crash after a long day that the prestige you get at home and from your family will compensate for that: it won't. If you are miserable all day long, your spouse will know it and feel it when you get home. There is nothing attractive about that, nothing sexy about it, nothing that makes a partner happy. If they are the sort of superficial person who would care about the fact that you are a doctor who makes good money and cares little about whether or not you are actually happy: don't marrry that person. When you crash and burn, which you likely will, they will take you for what you are worth and skip off to the next sucker. I see this on a regular basis and could list doctor after doctor this has happened to. If they are actually a decent, loving person who really cares about you, then their good heart will break when they see what working like a dog at something you don't really care about does to you: don't do that to them, as it is not fair. It is just tragic.

I will tell you a story that my father told me. He endured a really brutal residency back in the days when they were even harder than they are now in a totally malignant New England hospital that will go unmentioned. They worked 100+ hour weeks. They slept little. They were hazed mercilessly. Luckily, my father loves medicine, but is till totally sucked having to work that hard in that environment for that long. A week from the end of this brutal three-year residency they were all sitting around doing charts when one of the residents that had seemed even more miserable than the rest of them got a phone call. He picked up the phone listened for a minute, said nothing, put down the phone, took off his white coat and stethescope and started walking out the door. The other residents asked him where he was going. He simply said, "My mother has died and I was only doing this for her. Now I don't have to do this anymore," walked out the door and never practiced medicine again. Seven years of misery for nothing.

Again, either figure out how to love it or don't do it. It is that simple and straightforward. It is basically guaranteed that if you don't heed this advice bad things will occur, both in your life and in the lives of your patients, as very soon the decisions will be yours, the responsibility will be yours, and the risks and rewards will be yours. Don't ignore that risks part as you are all focused on the rewards of meeting your family's expectations, as the risks aren't worth that. Medicine is a high-stakes game, and you better not walk up to the table if you don't intend to win and aren't willing to do what it takes, as what you lose when you lose will blow your mind.

Back to the A&P point: are you 100% certain you never crossed it? Interested in the priesthood and monkhood and the like, hanging out on obscure internet forums about hardcore practice, agonizing about dharma pursuits and having career dysfunction: totally certain you aren't having some Dark Night stuff mixed into your very confused career motivations?

Could try to do what I did: I spent a year in India (or Thailand or Burma or some place like that) doing volunteer medical service along with taking breaks to do serious meditation retreats in good monasteries. That year gave me lots of medical cred, also gave me lots of motivation to learn to care for people well, as the need was so staggering that it would be really hard for even the most uncompassionate idiot to not feel the impetus to do something, as well as solved my Dark Night problem and allowed me to get back to my career path with a much more galvanized and inspired vision of how great it would be to really know how to care for people and make a difference in the world. I also learned a ton about all sorts of diseases that we don't see here much and learned a whole lot about myself. I was inspired by doctors like Dr Jack Prager who started the street clinic that I worked in in Calcutta called Calcutta Rescue, and by the difference that all that training made in your capacity to make a real difference in people's lives. That growth helped tremendously, and when I came back a bit wiser and more mature to medical training it made all the difference.


Thank you very much for considering my question seriously and responding in turn. Your answer has given me a lot to think about... I've already started to experience the same thing with my colleagues. Already, there is evidence that they are more prepared than I am. I don't want it to be that way. Even if it is just pride talking, I'd hate it to be that way.

But then again, all of this I am doing for my family. I can see it even clearer now. As you said in your dad's story, if I was to find out my girlfriend left me and my parents gave up on the wish for me to become a doctor, I'd quit right away. Thank you for making this clearer.

However, it does occur to me that it might be only the fear talking. Two years ago, when I didn't have it, I was fast. I catched on quickly, and no one was ahead of me. Things came easy. I used to love that feeling. Now, though, I'm not able to read a single paragraph without having to read it, finger first, three times. 

Perhaps I'm to blame. Perhaps I could have prevented this by studying harder before, not focusing too much on grades. One of the reasons I'm so far behind is that I keep refusing a grade I don't think is high enough for me. But now, that's got me in one of the worst situations I've ever been. On top of that, people that used to be miles behind me now know more than me.

I'm going to give it my honest try, from now on. When it gets really hard, I'm going to treat it as training to just be with discomfort. If I fail, it's ok. If I pass, it's ok. If I fail, they'll decide what happens with me. My only responsibility is to give it some time.

I'd like to take a year off to do voluntary work, I already thought about doing so. The people that pay for me, though, are very against that. They say it's a "loss of time" because I'm not studying up on facts. Though I know it's not true, it's they that command since it's them with the money. I'll just try to make the best of it.

Again, thank you for your opinion. In a way, it makes me feel both better and worse. But I know I'd be worse off without it emoticon I guess, now, at the very least, I need to ponder on it.

About the A&P: I've always been a little detached from everything others used you to like, and I was always very drawn to the meditative life and studying philosophy. The one thing I can't detach myself from though, is the expectations people have from me. I want nothing for myself. I often go through periods of fasting and meditation during the weekend, though just now I'm starting to learn the correct method. Everyone knows me as very austere and rigid, and I get scolded because of this by my own family. However, I guess my weakness is that I'm not detached from approval-seeking, though I see it clearly. This is why I don't think I've never crossed it. I've never aimed for it and I've always been this way for as long as I can remember. But this need to make other people happy is, in my opinion, a sign of immaturity emoticon

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/11/14 3:15 AM as a reply to Michael A Speese.
Michael A Speesler:
Let me say, the place you are in is not an easy place to be.  I had a similar experience to yours.  While in undergrad, I hated my studies.  They did not interest me in any way, but I knew it was necessary to complete my undergrad studies to go beyond that.  My parents and some people around me were really pressing for me to go to medical school.  I was always good at school and even though I didn't like my studies in undergrad, I still did well.  I was watching a documentary about a football player who was pressured by his dad to play and made it to the NFL and he asked the question, "just because we are good at something, does that mean we are meant to do it? "

I wound up going to chiropractic school which was really where my heart was.  At first, many people around me were disappointed.  I missed out on many of the things you talked about such as better money, more respect, etc., but in the end, I now really love what I do.  The people around me started to accept this when they saw how happy I was, and my family really started accepting it when they started getting chiropractic care.

All this said, sometimes the situation like the one you are in can seem like an impossible one.  Like everyone else said, you've got to do what's right for you.  If the feeling of really hating what you do is genuine, then better to switch now then wake up at 50 and realize you spent most of your life doing something you hate.

I think Daniel's advice is very good.  Perhaps some time to really evaluate your situation and think about what type of career you'd really like to pursue would be valuable.

I guess my problem is that I'm a little confused about the situation. I know that I'd love doing informatics, and that I'd work hard and want to work hard to be the best I can, also because the subject interests me and I'm already knowledgeable. However, a lot of money was spent on me. And my girlfriend is expecting that I get my specialization by 25, so we can get married. I guess I don't know what's the right thing to do. I want to do something good with my life. I don't know whether going after what I want would make anyone else unhappy. I don't want to make her wait another 5 years.

I don't know. I guess my priorities right now are all messed up. I guess I need to think about it. Thank you for your answer though emoticon

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/11/14 3:18 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom Tom:
It is important to note that your mental state has a significant impact on whether you find a topic interesting and engaging.  One of my majors in college was physics and when I was depressed, dysfunctional, having problems with executive functioning and very likely dark nighting I hated it and had convinced myself I had no interest whatsoever in the topic. When I became somewhat closer to normal and functional the topic proportionately became much more interesting and I was again able to understand what I was reading.

The point is that you shouldn't discount or underestimate the powerful effect that the dark night or depression can have on your perceived level of interest in something.  In the case of the dark night this can be especially powerful as it tends to put a strange existential lens of angst on pretty much everything in life.  Everything appears like it's rotting, empty, purposeless, pointless, transient, etc. 

If it's possible you can take some kind of break so that you can see this more objectively, then I would recommend you do so. 

Then again you may just have no interest whatoever in medicine and this is not dependent on your mental state and/or the dark night.  However, this might not be something you would be able to discern without getting some significant level of meditative stability (stream-entry or higher).

I'm not encouraging you to continue doing something you hate, but rather suggest you take some kind of break until you can either see things more objectively or decide to get out altogether.  

I guess it is true. I know I used to like medicine before, I just can't remember how it felt. The only thing I know now is that it's hard for me to even think about it - I'm always feeling inadequate. I'd like to take a break from it and think about it, it's just that I don't want to fail any more that I failed until now. And running away from it, even for a while, would feel like failure. 

It would be so nice if I could just wake up two years from now with all this behind me emoticon

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/11/14 12:03 PM as a reply to Shaun Ivan Muzic.
I think a very valuable clue does lay in the content of your script that you are telling yourself over and over.  I am willing to bet you have perfected your skill at telling yourself these things about your inadequacy and whatnot.  The ironic thing is the more you run that through your head, the more it becomes true.  But where did that script come from?  If you don't like medicine and that is the only issue, then why isn't the script about how boring it is?  Instead, a big chunk of that script is about fears of your own weakness.  And by your own words, you USED to be able to study and retain quickly so you can do.  Just that for now, you are blocking your own self by saying over and over to yourself that you suck.  You also say you think you may have USED to like medicine.  I do think that needs to be explored, do you really like or not like it?  Or is it more of an issue that you feel forced into it and also have feelings of inadequacy and I think those areas need to be looked at very hard. 

I remember I used to love this sport and played it whenever I could.  Once I even joined a class for the sport just so I could use the facilities and play it more.  But something strange happened that I enjoyed it less in the class because I had to go for my grade.  It was no longer my choice it had become an obligation.  There's something different about feeling you chose yourself and that is true more for some people than others.  If you have lead a life of being pushed by others but not choosing yourself, this issue can build up.  Ironically, it may be that you would have chosen medicine anyway if left to your own devices, but it's hard to say at this point if you are not in the habit of finding your own muse but instead have gotten the feeling that things are forced on you.  Remember there is always a good way out no matter what the situation, you just need to find and it may not be obvious right away.  Sounds like you have build a world in your mind where there is no possible way out for you other than being stuck into doing this thing you apparently hate, can't do, and will fail.  Leave space in your mind for good ways out because there are always many, but if you refuse to admit them, you won't find them.  For instance, within the medical community, there is room for almost any profession from machine repair, to research, to computers to being a regular doctor.  Most are high paying jobs and the hospitals love people in these professions who also know a lot about medicine.  I have known people who have segwayed into other hospital jobs after their degree and totally loved it.  You can do all kinds of things with a medical degree beyond being a doctor.  

But anyway, back to the script you run in your head, I think it goes beyond you feeling others are pushing you, I think also a lot of clues lie in that script.  Where did these feelings and things you tell yourself come from?  Did someone tell you this in childhood?  Maybe they got that script from their own parents and passed it on to you.  Seems to me you have internalized those opinions of yourself and whenever you are about to do something that would conflict with those feelings, ie whenever you are about to be successful, then those feelings rise up and attack and prevent you.  IMO, you will not be successful at anything as long as you deep inside think you are inadequate.  You will need to go in and root out that insecurity.  A part of you knows your true power and skill but another part of you is sabotaging you, you need to go in and have a talk with that part that is not yet on board with the program.  Otherwise what happens is no matter what you do, the problem with chase you.  You can switch jobs but if that part deep inside you thinks you suck, it can make that prophecy happen over and over again.  Changing jobs will not help you run away from yourself.  It's very hard to become something on the outside that you do not feel on the inside and IMO, that inside part can sabotage you forever if you don't deal with it.  

The good news is that you have the clues in your self script and inside you and if you turn your laser vision on rooting out the sources, you can heal yourself.  Do not accept that script, disagree with it, rewrite it.   Practice not floggin yourself, you've done plenty of self flogging up until now and it hasn't worked for you and in fact, it doesn't work for anyone.  Self flogging is a waste of energy.  You need self investigation but that is not the same as the blame game.  Put that script in a petri dish and scrutinize every aspect of it, definitely including the ways others have decribed which is a great meditation style way of working on it.  Try to find what exactly triggers the script, when it comes up, what if feels like exactly, how illogical it is, how it does fit with your true self.  Disagree with the script.  Find that scared part of you that is generating that script.  I am betting it is not just about medicine.  Yes, studying is boring at times but the level of blockage you are getting with all that inadequacy is way beyond the level of natural response to boredom.  I bet you've had this before but maybe it's just stronger now that the time feels more critical to you.  Watch very hard for how you trap yourself with thoughts and feelings and assumptions about your situation until you feel that you are trapped and doomed to failure.  THis is a habit you've gotten into, but as soon as you change the habit, you can get out of it.  The world is not really like that but if you spin that situation in your head, then it can seem like that and then become self fulfilling.  But the real world is not like the trap you have imagined in your mind, there are always many options and what happens to you is not random chance, it is a result of how you look at the world. 

I myself did a very similar game with myself for a large segment of my life.  I would think I wanted to do something but somewhere along the line, I just couldn't get myself to do what was absolutely needed to be a success.  I always self sabotaged and then I berated myself for it.  But I could not get through it with willpower because willpower was just the effort of one side of myself to ignore the will of the other part of myself and that never works in the end if the problem is serious.  Sure you can bulldoze past small things but big things will always sneak back up and cause trouble if not properly dealt with plus those big things are big energy and motivation suckers.  I told myself thousands to times to try harder and often I did but when the crucial time came, I always managed to flub it somehow.  I think it was because inside, I felt like a loser and so I always was.  It's a viscious cycle but it can be broken with self inquiry.  It took me a lot longer to become self aware enough to start to see it, I think you are way ahead of me there, maybe with the help of meditation you are seeing it a lot sooner.  Anyway, it's never too late to turn it around.  Once I understood better and dealt with the core issues of my insecurity, which granted was not super easy, but was way easier than being a loser for a long period of time, success became a lot easier.  Many decisions I made worked out and most things fell into place.  Big obstacles worked themselves out in unexpected ways and the road was much easier.  I think it was because outside life tends to match inside thoughts and feelings.  In order to improve my outside world, I needed to straighten out my inside self.  I could not be something on the outside if I didn't agree with it on the inside.  The great thing about it is once I got my inside more straightened out, the outside world snapped quickly into agreement. 

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/11/14 4:14 PM as a reply to Shaun Ivan Muzic.
If you have an MD and a talent for infomatics, seriously consider combining them. There is plenty of money and prestige to be had there. The world of medical infomatics totally sucks. The very best of the world of EMRs (electronic medical record systems, for those not in the biz) are basically total shit in comparison to what is possible. Our computers drive us and every other doctor and hospital and nurse and tech and secretary in the country totally crazy all the time. That they are so bad is totally mind-boggling, particularly considering that when these systems are cumbersome and fail, people get hurt and die, and particularly given that a slightly-better-than-total-crap EMR for a big hospital system can cost over $100,000,000, no joke. The world desperately needs those who both something about patient care and also about infomatics, and, if that is you, and you are smart and really love infomatics, perhaps you would be a perfect person to sort this out, as the current state of the art is below that of the fast food industry in the mid-80's, not kidding at all about that. This is a desperate need with very few people who can fill it. My advice is to figure out how to jump into that niche and ride it for all it is worth, as, if you do it well, you could easily make vastly more than I ever will and could have plenty of prestige and do a huge amount of good in the world and really save lives, as bad EMRs kill people.

The vast majority of coders, software architects and software business people know nearly nothing about the realities of medicine and patient care and what doctors do. If you know both then you will definitely have huge opportunities, I can promise you, and likely be a hell of a lot happier than you currently are and much more engaged with the things you care about.

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/12/14 2:06 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva M Nie:
I think a very valuable clue does lay in the content of your script that you are telling yourself over and over.  I am willing to bet you have perfected your skill at telling yourself these things about your inadequacy and whatnot.  The ironic thing is the more you run that through your head, the more it becomes true.  But where did that script come from?  If you don't like medicine and that is the only issue, then why isn't the script about how boring it is?  Instead, a big chunk of that script is about fears of your own weakness.  And by your own words, you USED to be able to study and retain quickly so you can do.  Just that for now, you are blocking your own self by saying over and over to yourself that you suck.  You also say you think you may have USED to like medicine.  I do think that needs to be explored, do you really like or not like it?  Or is it more of an issue that you feel forced into it and also have feelings of inadequacy and I think those areas need to be looked at very hard. 

I remember I used to love this sport and played it whenever I could.  Once I even joined a class for the sport just so I could use the facilities and play it more.  But something strange happened that I enjoyed it less in the class because I had to go for my grade.  It was no longer my choice it had become an obligation.  There's something different about feeling you chose yourself and that is true more for some people than others.  If you have lead a life of being pushed by others but not choosing yourself, this issue can build up.  Ironically, it may be that you would have chosen medicine anyway if left to your own devices, but it's hard to say at this point if you are not in the habit of finding your own muse but instead have gotten the feeling that things are forced on you.  Remember there is always a good way out no matter what the situation, you just need to find and it may not be obvious right away.  Sounds like you have build a world in your mind where there is no possible way out for you other than being stuck into doing this thing you apparently hate, can't do, and will fail.  Leave space in your mind for good ways out because there are always many, but if you refuse to admit them, you won't find them.  For instance, within the medical community, there is room for almost any profession from machine repair, to research, to computers to being a regular doctor.  Most are high paying jobs and the hospitals love people in these professions who also know a lot about medicine.  I have known people who have segwayed into other hospital jobs after their degree and totally loved it.  You can do all kinds of things with a medical degree beyond being a doctor.  

But anyway, back to the script you run in your head, I think it goes beyond you feeling others are pushing you, I think also a lot of clues lie in that script.  Where did these feelings and things you tell yourself come from?  Did someone tell you this in childhood?  Maybe they got that script from their own parents and passed it on to you.  Seems to me you have internalized those opinions of yourself and whenever you are about to do something that would conflict with those feelings, ie whenever you are about to be successful, then those feelings rise up and attack and prevent you.  IMO, you will not be successful at anything as long as you deep inside think you are inadequate.  You will need to go in and root out that insecurity.  A part of you knows your true power and skill but another part of you is sabotaging you, you need to go in and have a talk with that part that is not yet on board with the program.  Otherwise what happens is no matter what you do, the problem with chase you.  You can switch jobs but if that part deep inside you thinks you suck, it can make that prophecy happen over and over again.  Changing jobs will not help you run away from yourself.  It's very hard to become something on the outside that you do not feel on the inside and IMO, that inside part can sabotage you forever if you don't deal with it.  

The good news is that you have the clues in your self script and inside you and if you turn your laser vision on rooting out the sources, you can heal yourself.  Do not accept that script, disagree with it, rewrite it.   Practice not floggin yourself, you've done plenty of self flogging up until now and it hasn't worked for you and in fact, it doesn't work for anyone.  Self flogging is a waste of energy.  You need self investigation but that is not the same as the blame game.  Put that script in a petri dish and scrutinize every aspect of it, definitely including the ways others have decribed which is a great meditation style way of working on it.  Try to find what exactly triggers the script, when it comes up, what if feels like exactly, how illogical it is, how it does fit with your true self.  Disagree with the script.  Find that scared part of you that is generating that script.  I am betting it is not just about medicine.  Yes, studying is boring at times but the level of blockage you are getting with all that inadequacy is way beyond the level of natural response to boredom.  I bet you've had this before but maybe it's just stronger now that the time feels more critical to you.  Watch very hard for how you trap yourself with thoughts and feelings and assumptions about your situation until you feel that you are trapped and doomed to failure.  THis is a habit you've gotten into, but as soon as you change the habit, you can get out of it.  The world is not really like that but if you spin that situation in your head, then it can seem like that and then become self fulfilling.  But the real world is not like the trap you have imagined in your mind, there are always many options and what happens to you is not random chance, it is a result of how you look at the world. 

I myself did a very similar game with myself for a large segment of my life.  I would think I wanted to do something but somewhere along the line, I just couldn't get myself to do what was absolutely needed to be a success.  I always self sabotaged and then I berated myself for it.  But I could not get through it with willpower because willpower was just the effort of one side of myself to ignore the will of the other part of myself and that never works in the end if the problem is serious.  Sure you can bulldoze past small things but big things will always sneak back up and cause trouble if not properly dealt with plus those big things are big energy and motivation suckers.  I told myself thousands to times to try harder and often I did but when the crucial time came, I always managed to flub it somehow.  I think it was because inside, I felt like a loser and so I always was.  It's a viscious cycle but it can be broken with self inquiry.  It took me a lot longer to become self aware enough to start to see it, I think you are way ahead of me there, maybe with the help of meditation you are seeing it a lot sooner.  Anyway, it's never too late to turn it around.  Once I understood better and dealt with the core issues of my insecurity, which granted was not super easy, but was way easier than being a loser for a long period of time, success became a lot easier.  Many decisions I made worked out and most things fell into place.  Big obstacles worked themselves out in unexpected ways and the road was much easier.  I think it was because outside life tends to match inside thoughts and feelings.  In order to improve my outside world, I needed to straighten out my inside self.  I could not be something on the outside if I didn't agree with it on the inside.  The great thing about it is once I got my inside more straightened out, the outside world snapped quickly into agreement. 

I really like how people on this forum are so very honest and personal in describing experiences like my own! I think I know what you mean by the script running through my head... The thing is, I don't know how to behave towards my mind. I've read many self-help and buddhist books. Some advise ignoring negative thoughts. Some encourage positive thinking, or even positive visualization. Some again recommend both these practices, and some say to completely "let go" of all these thoughts.

Personally, I find myself at a los as to what I'm supposed to do, and I'm rereading books on the Eightfold Path to get a better view of what the Buddha asked us to do. I love reading the suttas on the advice he gave to householders, but apart the usual "a householder should be very proficient in his profession", I haven't found any advice on how to cultivate the mind with its negative thoughts and feelings... which I guess is normal as I don't think householders used to worry about these kind of problems emoticon 

I now think that I should practice letting go of the negative mind script, and that a certain amount of good will towards studying is necessary for me to start working against this problem. Or not? And I guess this good will should be cultivated internally, both while I'm studying and while I'm not studying, by practicing Right Effort - withhold thinking negative thoughts and practice positive ones. I do find it difficult to do so right now... However, perhaps I will get better at it with practice?

Yes, at this point I'd really like to return to how I used to be. Though I don't know exactly how to make my mind turn around, I guess the above paragraph is how I'm going to go about it. I'm going to practice Right Mindfulness while I work, identify the negative scripts, defuse from them and envelop them with the Right Thought of lovingkindness, and realize that wanting things to be better is closely related to the Second Truth. Perhaps I should also start taking things a little easier, even though slowing down right now (I'm studying 12 hours a day with woefully small results, doing like 1 page every hour and a half, and with quite some difficulty) might mean having to repeat a year if I fail.

I do firmly believe though that there is time to turn around. I'll start practicing this way if you guys tell me that this is skillful.

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/12/14 2:34 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
If you have an MD and a talent for infomatics, seriously consider combining them. There is plenty of money and prestige to be had there. The world of medical infomatics totally sucks. The very best of the world of EMRs (electronic medical record systems, for those not in the biz) are basically total shit in comparison to what is possible. Our computers drive us and every other doctor and hospital and nurse and tech and secretary in the country totally crazy all the time. That they are so bad is totally mind-boggling, particularly considering that when these systems are cumbersome and fail, people get hurt and die, and particularly given that a slightly-better-than-total-crap EMR for a big hospital system can cost over $100,000,000, no joke. The world desperately needs those who both something about patient care and also about infomatics, and, if that is you, and you are smart and really love infomatics, perhaps you would be a perfect person to sort this out, as the current state of the art is below that of the fast food industry in the mid-80's, not kidding at all about that. This is a desperate need with very few people who can fill it. My advice is to figure out how to jump into that niche and ride it for all it is worth, as, if you do it well, you could easily make vastly more than I ever will and could have plenty of prestige and do a huge amount of good in the world and really save lives, as bad EMRs kill people.

The vast majority of coders, software architects and software business people know nearly nothing about the realities of medicine and patient care and what doctors do. If you know both then you will definitely have huge opportunities, I can promise you, and likely be a hell of a lot happier than you currently are and much more engaged with the things you care about.


Wow. You know, I'd love doing something like that. I actually am called to solve little problems with the computers of the university because people know I like doing that sort of stuff... they even have a "waiting list" of problems that I resolve when I feel stressed and want to just go work on computers emoticon people on facebook I barely knew started contacting me to fix their computers. It was an innocent interest at first, but as time went by I started learning new skills like how to fix hardware problems, even repairing hard drives when they'd stop working...

Even my professors themselves tell me that I'd be able to "be of some use" emoticon however, do you think I can do it with a medical degree and then subspecializing or something? Or do Biomedical Engineering? A lot of my friends do it, though they're still underprepared on the informatics front. In any case, I'd like to finish medicine first. Then I'd like to see how I can make these talents worth it in the long run...

Would you know how to go about realizing this interest? Even if you don't or have a vague idea, that's ok emoticon

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/12/14 12:32 PM as a reply to Shaun Ivan Muzic.
Shaun Ivan Muzic:


You said: I really like how people on this forum are so very honest and personal in describing experiences like my own! I think I know what you mean by the script running through my head... The thing is, I don't know how to behave towards my mind. I've read many self-help and buddhist books. Some advise ignoring negative thoughts. Some encourage positive thinking, or even positive visualization. Some again recommend both these practices, and some say to completely "let go" of all these thoughts.

I say: I'd say during meditation, follow typical meditation methods, I guess that depends on which method you go for, but you'll get likely get advice along the lines of concentrate on one thing, gently push other thoughts aside, and/or observation without judgement, etc.  Meditation is great for a lot of things including learning to observe thoughts and also giving your mind a break from the internal chatter so that you can see other aspects of yourself that exist past that chatter.  It's amazing when you think about it but almost no one spends much time trying to figure out what goes on in there!  But the only person that can truly understand your own mind is you.  Because no one else can truly map your mind for you, what they did instead is give you advice on how to map your own mind yourself.  And it takes a while, kinda of like peeling an onion, once you see one layer, after a while you'll find there is more underneath.  At each layer, you'll learn some new things, but what is in each layer is not always the same for everyone.  

My advice that I wrote before was more for the rest of the day as you go about your daily stuff.  What kind of scripts do you run through your head during the day?  What do you think about when you brush you teeth, chew your sandwich, wait in line, etc?  Pay more attention, see what scripts you are running over and over.  Are those scripts helping you?  Are they fair and reasonable to yourself?  Are they depressing or uplifting? Probably there will also be a bunch of little mini fantasies, and imaginings of various situations and how they might play out, things you might or did say or do in various situations, etc.   Why did you choose these particular thoughts, why do they come up, what does it mean?  When I started looking at myself, I was personally amazed at a lot of negativity and illogic but it gave me huge insight as to how I was mapping and considering the world around me at that time.  A lot of day to day stuff might also be what might be considered fluff stuff, self agrandizing, getting things you want type fantasies, etc, but don't be too hard on yourself, we all have that kind of stuff.  These are also scripts you tell yourself so what goes on in them is another clue as to how your mind operates and I also spend time rewriting a few of those kinds of scripts if I think they might be better that way.  Like if I notice a daydream with an unhappy ending, I might rewrite the ending to be better and run the new ending through my mind a few times.  A lot of times I am doing this in spare moments like while walking, eating, showering, etc so it doesn't interfere with normal activities.    

IMO, when the organism breaks down or refuses to function efficiently, it is because of conflicting scripts.   For instance, if a person truly believes himself to be deficient in in some way, it's very hard to become a great success because success goes directly against the 'deficiency' script.  Some people get around it by running a 'got lucky but really don't deserve it' type of script but others may already have 'I am unlucky and no body likes me' script' already firmly implanted.  Not saying you have those exact scripts but they are examples of some common ones.  If you spend all day running negative scripts, it really sucks a lot of fun out of life and without fun, life is a drag and without motivation!  Many of the scripts come from childhood and society but some are also self imposed.  There are tons of sources, the important thing is rewriting the counterproductive ones and forming better habits, the first step is to just notice them and then second, for the ones that are counter productive, work on rewriting them.  

Some of my personal work on that are that I identify them and then try to imagine a better scenario.  For instance, one common script of mine is "I did all this work and just watch, it will turn out to be all a waste of time."  If I see a script like that, I work on improving it.  At minimum, I can usually at least improve it to, "This might work or it might not but at least I will have learned some valuable lessons either way and that will help me make better decisions in the future."  Or maybe the new script can be, "Well at least this was kinda fun and I met some new friends," or "Wow it feels great to finally have that done."  Yes, I do believe the power of positive thought is HUGE.  But I also think that just a simple mantra like 'think positive' is not enough for anyone other than those who are naturally very positive already and that trying to lay a 'think positive' script over the top of a bunch of other conflicting scripts without dealing with the conflicting scripts that already exist tends to not work for most people.  Instead what might happen is people try to think positive, find themselves not always doing it, then berate themselves for not thinking positive, then they are REALLY not thinking positive, there's a lot of irony there!  ;-P  I also think it helps to set scripts for yourself that are positive but also that you can feel are reasonable and that you can get behind and accept.  Like some of the self help 'think positive' speakers set very high goals like that everything will be great and money will flow to you like water or something like that.  And I am not saying it can't happen like that sometimes, but if the script sounds unrealistic to you, then I don't think it will stick.  Sometimes the best I can do is something like "I will get through this, it's not THAT bad, and probably a year from now it will be a distant memory."  But you can see how that would be better than something like, "This really sucks, I hate it, why do bad things always happen to me, it's just one thing after another, etc"  Interestingly research shows that successful people think with more positive scripts and that changing scripts improves success.  The process of observing scripts and changing them is sometimes called 'reframing.' (in other words, I didn't invent it, lots of people use it)         

You said: Personally, I find myself at a los as to what I'm supposed to do, and I'm rereading books on the Eightfold Path to get a better view of what the Buddha asked us to do. I love reading the suttas on the advice he gave to householders, but apart the usual "a householder should be very proficient in his profession", I haven't found any advice on how to cultivate the mind with its negative thoughts and feelings... which I guess is normal as I don't think householders used to worry about these kind of problems emoticon 

I say: Good point, I have often wondered if people in say old time India had the same kind of mental issues as many in America.  We grew up different with a different outlook so there may be some variation in the kinds of problems that are more common here.  Jobs and choices were a bit less complex.  Most old time advice should still hold though but there may be things that just weren't that big of an issue back then so were not talked about much. 

Also, I think Buddha mostly concerned himself with trying to show people how to reach enlightenment according to what he knew at the time and most meditation teachings have more to do with technical aspects of mediation while on the mat.  Psychology did not even exist back then but I do think some of the current psych methods are great for just every day improvement and are also very very complimentary to what Buddha taught.  The prob in both psych and in mediation fields and probably everywhere else is what sells is often people pushing some kind of idea that there are easy quick fixes that involve very little effort or change that will fix big problems for you, all you have to do is give some guy a bunch of your money.   Alas no, almost always it takes sustained effort and determination, but the good news is you can do it yourself without giving any money to anyone.  ;-P

You said:  I now think that I should practice letting go of the negative mind script, and that a certain amount of good will towards studying is necessary for me to start working against this problem. Or not? And I guess this good will should be cultivated internally, both while I'm studying and while I'm not studying, by practicing Right Effort - withhold thinking negative thoughts and practice positive ones. I do find it difficult to do so right now... However, perhaps I will get better at it with practice?

I say: Yes, practice does improve it as long as you keep at it, I am not sure if anyone does  not thing ANY negative thoughts, we all do, the question is more how powerful and how many of them you have and how realistic or unrealistic they are.  Don't fall into the trap of thinking you always have to be perfect or you are a failure.  Everything is always a work in progress.  It's like herding cats, there will always be some stray cats running around, you are mostly just trying to get the majority of them to get along most of the time.  Most people have a lot of habits built up over time and changing habits is the hardest at first, you've got almost 20 years of thought habits to contend with.  But if you do a new behavior consistantly, then over time it becomes a new habit, you see differently, and then you see new layers of the onion as well.  Try to go about it without self judgement or beratement (which is also a bad habit for many), cut yourself some slack, this is a big complex project and you are a newbie and progress tends to come in fits and starts.  When you try to fix a computer, the best mind set is to stay very very calm and think and observe objectively the signs and symptoms, try things, see the results, consider the new data, think more about it, etc.  Long tirades about how Microsoft sucks or whatever do not help and just distract from the job at hand, plus it makes the job more unpleasant feeling.  But if you think commonly on the situation and turn things over in your mind, sometimes you will be stuck for a while and not sure where to go but once in a while at unexpected times, you suddenly get insight into what might be happening or you get a new idea on what to try next.  Do the same thing with yourself, it will just take longer than a simple computer because we are more complex with more layers.  Give your own mind the respect and courtesy you give a nice computer system, yes it currently has some glitches is all but you have a lot of time and motivation to work on them and you are just beginning your studies on it. 

For your current medical study issues, my question to you which I think will help you a lot is to try to figure out why you hate studying so much.  Yes studying can be boring but it does not usually illicit fear.  Chase down that feeling, confront it directly, what scripts do you run, where did they come from? Are there other scripts linked to the more obvious scripts?  Chase down that chain as far as it goes until you finally find the source of that hatred/anger/selfloathing/whatever it is.  There will probably be a series of small insights as you continue the process of inquiry, layers of the onion will slowly get peeled.  Only you can find out exactly where it will go since it's a bit different for everyone, but once you get that far, you will get a lot better understanding of what you need to do to solve your problems.  There is an old saying that I love that goes like, "Go as far as you can see, and once you get there, you will see farther."     

You said: Yes, at this point I'd really like to return to how I used to be. Though I don't know exactly how to make my mind turn around, I guess the above paragraph is how I'm going to go about it. I'm going to practice Right Mindfulness while I work, identify the negative scripts, defuse from them and envelop them with the Right Thought of lovingkindness, and realize that wanting things to be better is closely related to the Second Truth. Perhaps I should also start taking things a little easier, even though slowing down right now (I'm studying 12 hours a day with woefully small results, doing like 1 page every hour and a half, and with quite some difficulty) might mean having to repeat a year if I fail.

I do firmly believe though that there is time to turn around. I'll start practicing this way if you guys tell me that this is skillful.

I say:  Yes, there is ALWAYS time to turn around.  Colonal Sanders started his chicken empire when he was in his 60s!  You can never go back, the only way is forward.  Probably the current problems were brewing back in the past as well, only they are now in more full force so you notice them more.  Or something has shifted in your situation to expose those issues.  However, it may help to try to think what is different about then and now, how your thoughts were different, etc, and that might yield some clues to you.  It takes a lot of courage to confront fears over and over and really dig into them but the rewards are great and you can end up stronger than you ever were before.  A lot of people spend a lot of time running from their fears but their fears will chase them everywhere and reemerge over and over.  You have an advantage in that you can dig out your fear and look at it at any time.  WHen you sit down to study, trying changing tactics a bit, spend some time just self observing all your thoughts, try to get to understand the fear better.  Observe what specific thoughts are associated with the fear.  Write down some of these thoughts.  Are they logical?  Do you run these scripts often?  Why are they there?  I don't think anyone can tell you the exact answers as to how to get past your current problem because we are not you and the answers would be somewhat different for each person, but if you look inside your own self long and hard enough, all the answers are in there and the process of looking for the answers is also part of the solution, it's about learning more about yourself.  We don't know your personal answers but we can at least give you some advice on how to look in there for them.  ;-P         

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/13/14 3:01 AM as a reply to Shaun Ivan Muzic.
Probably would do a master's or PhD in medical infomatics: there are very likely programs designed for MDs: might search online. Seriously consider studying in a group or with one other person that you get along well with: can really help.

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/13/14 9:46 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
To confirm what others have said, EMR in my field is pretty bad in general too as it stands.  I like the practical approach that others suggest such as perhaps trying to study in a group instead of alone.

You also mentioned that at some point you liked medicine.  Do you remember when you lost that interest and what might have been happening?

I can only speak for myself, but the times I can remember where I disliked chiropractic in school stemmed from the fact that I actually liked chiropractic, but I disliked the pressure from school, some of which was pressure I put on myself.  How's your life outside of school?  Do you have any friends in school or out of school that you can hang out with even for a even a few moments to help you destress.

I always looked up to my uncle, Mark, who is a verified genius.  He competes internationally in trivia contests, speaks over 12 languages, graduated top of his class at Harvard, the whole nine.  Growing up, there was an expectation that I was going to be like Mark, and again much of this pressure I put on myself.  I found though as I progressed through my academic career, and having classes with smarter and smarter people the reality was I was smart, but not at Mark's level.  Unfortunately, it took me nearly having a complete nervous breakdown to figure that out.

Its good to push yourself, but nothing is worth your sanity.  I know lots of really intelligent people that have broken due to the pressure of performing at a high level.  Now this may not be the case for you at all, but if it is, take some time to have a little fun.  Even if time doesn't permit that much, you can surely find 30 minutes to share a meal with someone and not talk about school.

I may be totally off base here, but wanted to put it out there just case so you don't suffer the same fate as I did and many others I know. 

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/13/14 1:18 PM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom Tom:
"It is important to note that your mental state has a significant impact on whether you find a topic interesting and engaging.  One of my majors in college was physics and when I was depressed, dysfunctional, having problems with executive functioning and very likely dark nighting I hated it and had convinced myself I had no interest whatsoever in the topic. When I became somewhat closer to normal and functional the topic proportionately became much more interesting and I was again able to understand what I was reading.

The point is that you shouldn't discount or underestimate the powerful effect that the dark night or depression can have on your perceived level of interest in something.  In the case of the dark night this can be especially powerful as it tends to put a strange existential lens of angst on pretty much everything in life.  Everything appears like it's rotting, empty, purposeless, pointless, transient, etc. "

-I agree strongly with this.  It's easier for me to see this since I experienced similar things.  I think certain kinds of personalities are more likely to have this particular problem.  There are things that I liked a lot when it was for fun but the minute it became important, I didn't like them.  The thing is, it was not the thing that I didn't like, it was the pressure (most of it self induced).  I put a lot of pressure on myself, desire to be perfect and better than all others, fear of success, fear or failure, insecurity, fear of not living up to my standards (which were impossible), etc.  All of those things could suck the pleasure out of just about anything.  A lot of my road to success was learning to let go of all of those stresses I was inflicting on myself.  Once I was able to do that, and alas it took me a LONG time to figure out that was what I needed to do, then some of the things I used to hate for a while returned to being fun, some of them were just neutral, and some of them I had lost interest in but did not actually hate anymore. 

If you look at your situation with informatics right now, sounds like you are doing it for free, lots of people probably love you for it since you are really help them, and there is probably not much pressure on you for outcome or success, which is a very relaxing situation.  It could be that if you changed your major to informatics and then felt in your mind that your entire future success now depended on THAT, then you would STILL have the same problem you have now, lots of pressure and fear about your future, etc.  Or not, it's hard for me to say.  But I do think it's wise to consider that issue carefully before doing something drastic.  IMO, putting too high pressure on self just causes problems because the stress is too high to deal with long term and so a part of you just runs and hides from it because it can't deal with it and it ends up sucking up most of your energy.  Some motivation is of course good, but if it's crushing, then it's hard to even function.  It took me a really really long time to finally figure out that a lot of that crushing pressure is self induced, but that's really a good thing because it means you have the power to alleviate it yourself if you work on it. 

Also, for career advice, one option would be to talk to a career counciler in your school about your situation and see what ideas that person has.  THose people often have more knowledge about different career and school options.  You can bet there have been a ton of people in your position who became unsure of current choice of major part way in. 


RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/13/14 1:30 PM as a reply to Shaun Ivan Muzic.
"knows me as very austere and rigid, and I get scolded because of this by my own family. However, I guess my weakness is that I'm not detached from approval-seeking, though I see it clearly. This is why I don't think I've never crossed it. I've never aimed for it and I've always been this way for as long as I can remember. But this need to make other people happy is, in my opinion, a sign of immaturity emoticon"

I think it's a mistake to assume you can't be happy and have them happy too.  They probably have in their mind some rather rigid ideas of what SHOULD make you happy and since they care about you, they are doing their best to progress you in that direction that THEY think is best.  But there are other directions that could also work just as well or better.  THey surely don't see all the potential options.  In the end, if you get a good career and make decent money and are successful at what you do and happy, that's the ultimate prestige in this country and I bet your family will also be very very happy for you, be it doctor or some other important job.  It's just that currently for the short term, they only see one way for that to happen and would be scared if you did not seem to be taking that one way that they themselves see available. 

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/15/14 7:01 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
I have found this thread very interesting and useful. There are some things in my work life that have to be done but that I have a tendency to turn away from and not do. Besides lots of meditation, I have been trying the following but the jury is still out. Gary Weber who is a very advanced meditator and probably awakened said that at one point he went through all his hang-ups and attachments and got rid of them one by one. He used Byron Katie's 4 questions and The Sedona Method. I have been testing the Sedona Method which is as follows: 1). Welcome everything about a situation. This includes physical sensations, stories, and emotions. 2). Welcome your wanting to control or manage it. 3). Welcome your feeling it is personal, that it is about you as a person. 4). Just for a moment, as best as you can, release all that.

I find steps 1 to 3 tracks with my vipassana practice. I am still testing step 4.

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/15/14 1:23 PM as a reply to Jack Hatfield.
I'd be curious how that works for you.  One big problem I had when trying to do the 'positive' techniques is I was never sure how to do it exactly.  I mean, thinking positive sounds great but how does one do it?  How does one welcome something one does not like?  It was a long time before I could figure out how to think positive or at least to think more positive and less negative on command!  Welcome this welcome that, well how was I to do that when I just don't seem to like it at all!  I was the type that had developed many very negative thought process habits that were deeply engrained.  Sometimes I would be happy but it seemed to happen spontaneously, I felt I had no control over it and it happened on its own.  I didn't know how it came to pass when it did happen.  So when someone would tell me to just think positive, it just sorta peaved me ironically.  Because how is one to think positive when everything sucks!  (or so I thought) ;-P  Maybe the think positive thing works better for people who already have better 'positive' skills to start with, but for me, I had to have more specific steps on how to accomplish it.   Personally, I was not able to just plow away negative thoughts by using brute force of positive thoughts.  But maybe some can, it's something I am curious about. 
Jack HatfieldI have found this thread very interesting and useful. There are some things in my work life that have to be done but that I have a tendency to turn away from and not do. Besides lots of meditation, I have been trying the following but the jury is still out. Gary Weber who is a very advanced meditator and probably awakened said that at one point he went through all his hang-ups and attachments and got rid of them one by one. He used Byron Katie's 4 questions and The Sedona Method. I have been testing the Sedona Method which is as follows: 1). Welcome everything about a situation. This includes physical sensations, stories, and emotions. 2). Welcome your wanting to control or manage it. 3). Welcome your feeling it is personal, that it is about you as a person. 4). Just for a moment, as best as you can, release all that.

I find steps 1 to 3 tracks with my vipassana practice. I am still testing step 4.

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/16/14 6:26 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva,

The Sedona Method is not a positive technique for me in the way I think you are using the word. I have had years of daily vipassana practice where I accept whatever comes up. I do the same in steps 1-3 in the Sedona Method. This can mean being aware of being pissed off, sad, angry, frustrated and so on. You don't have to like any of these feelings. Just be aware of them. Then, in step 4 I just let it all go.

Have you tried a vipassana practice? There are many ways to do it but I recommend starting off with 4 Foundations Noting meditations.

jack

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/16/14 7:51 AM as a reply to Shaun Ivan Muzic.
Shaun,

There has already been plenty of fantastic information given to you, but I figured I may as well throw my two cents in...

Prestige and money are nice, of course.  But you will not be able to take either of them with you when you die, which you most certainly will some day.  They are impermanent just like everything else.  Pursuing a stressful career in order to obtain money is a ridiculously bad idea.  Never trade happiness for money.

Set aside all the schooling, money, and ambitions, and just think-- what do you like to do?  What would you volunteer to do?  When you have an answer, look into pursuing that as a career, regardless of how lucrative it is (but make sure it's enough to pay the bills).

Be careful when deciding what you are going to do with your life. I crossed the A&P two years ago without realizing what happened and threw all plans of going to college right out the window. Now I have three kids and live well below the poverty line, and it looks like I'm losing my only job. I'm about two weeks away from not being able to pay my bills anymore, then who knows what will happen after that. So I say again... be careful.

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/16/14 12:03 PM as a reply to Eric M W.
It's not always as simple as converting a fun hobby to a career.  Just because you like something as a hobby does not mean you would like it as a career.  Once it is a job, you have a lot of added stresses, you may suddenly have long erratic hours and not enough sleep, crabby customers, a ton of time pressure to solve things really fast, or you may be forced into additional duties that are not so nearly as fun.  It may be that the fun thing you liked is only a small part of what you will be doing day to day if that was a full time job.  There are a number of things I like to do for fun, but that does not mean I would have fun doing it 8 hours a day under pressure of efficient production, competing with a lot of cheap labor from China, doing the same thing over and over, making designs or working for others instead of just doing what I prefer, under a lot of critique by others, worrying about if it would sell, etc.  What you like to do is a great place to start and I absolutely agree that it does not make sense to go into a field you dislike, but if you once liked medicine but now don't, I think one should spend some time figuring out why.  Is it really the medicine you dislike, the pressure, what?  To know what you really like also means knowing a lot about yourself and also knowing a lot about what it would mean to have the hobby as an actual job. 

I had an old boss who loved making electronic circuit designs and he was a genius at it.  He made it a job and did reasonably well but he seemed to really hate deadlines, talking to customers, planning, organizing, buying parts, doing repairs or even trusting anyone else to do those things because even though he was bad at those things, he was also a control freak.  In essence, although technically, he went into his dream field, he seemed to really dislike a large part of what he had to do from day to day.  In his case he could have gotten out of it easily by delegating to those who were better at it, but still, he had to do those things a long time before he got established enough to even be in the position to hire others.  Realistically, most jobs will have aspects that are not as fun as others, but it's a good idea to consider the overall balance of those things and how well you are able to deal with them when deciding on long term goals.   

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/16/14 12:46 PM as a reply to Jack Hatfield.
I do agree that nonjudgemental self observation is a very very important process.  I suspect many bad things tend to happen in development for most people if something like that is not able to be done fairly often.  I am fairly new to most of this terminology so I am hesitant to say I do 'Vipissana Meditation' considering I only just recently heard of it, but I do something rather similar at least, it's something I started doing through the ordinary day a while back and I think I have learned so much from it that word's just cannot say.  I also do not know a lot about the Sedona Method in particular.  Could be that is the heart of what they are saying.  Probably some of it hinges on their definition of 'welcoming.'   English can be interpreted in a variety of ways and we could probably nitpick the terminology till the cows come home, but overall, I think nonjudgemental observation is a very good thing.  'Letting go' is another one of those super vague statements that can mean a whole lot of different things to different people and maybe or maybe not, if I studied the Sedona Method, they go into much more detail about what that means to them.  It has become a very popular catch phrase but what exactly people interpret that to mean can vary all over the map.  Are you trying to let go of desires and wants in general?  Any thoughts about it at all?  Desire for specific outcomes?  Judgements on observations?   What part is supposed to be going and what if it doesn't go but instead keeps resticking to you like hair on a monkey?  ;-P  I tend to be curious about detail if I think a point is important, but maybe there is also something to be said for overall feeling of the thing as well.  There is a kind of feeling to succesful letting go that is a vague feeling thing.  ;-P
-Eva 


sJack HatfieldEva,

The Sedona Method is not a positive technique for me in the way I think you are using the word. I have had years of daily vipassana practice where I accept whatever comes up. I do the same in steps 1-3 in the Sedona Method. This can mean being aware of being pissed off, sad, angry, frustrated and so on. You don't have to like any of these feelings. Just be aware of them. Then, in step 4 I just let it all go.

Have you tried a vipassana practice? There are many ways to do it but I recommend starting off with 4 Foundations Noting meditations.

jack

Replies
Answer
6/16/14 2:30 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
@Daniel: As you and others have said, I have found a friend with whom I can study. I actually called him and asked him if he could come sleep over at my place for a few nights and help me to repeat the program - for now, it worked really well.

@Michael: EMR is definitely something I'll think about in the future emoticon and yes, nearly everyone I know has very high expectations of me due to the way I was as a child. They still think that study is more of a hobby of mine. Now that I talked to all my close friends and family about the stress I'm feeling, that took out some of the sting. They're very supportive now instead of being expecting.

@Eva (2): As I said, I told nearly everyone that I'm feeling quite stressed out lately. All of them have been surprisingly supportive, and this takes the sting out of the experience a lot.

@Jack Hatfield: Thank you for your words emoticon however, I've had mixed results with the Sedona Method. Not because it isn't a sound method, but because I've misunderstood it. Only when I started studying the dharma did I understand better what did it mean "to let go".

@Eric: This has been on my mind a lot... However, in my case, I've been very extreme in thinking of it. I guess I have some issues to work on, but I don't want to marry before getting a high paying job. I'd rather leave my girlfriend than marry her before that. My parents have lived through financial insecurities and it's left a sensitive spot.

@Eva (3): I know what you mean... Though I think in both cases, both of us should work on our own imperfections, in order to be able to something we like in an orderly fashion, without letting stress get to us. I'm learning to do so now.

@Eva (4): About definining "letting go" in Sedona Method. Have you heard of Relational Frame Theory in psychology? It explains how we assign meaning to words. Especially when we're talking about abstract terms this comes into play. I guess all the methods in the end point to the same thing: the Buddha just expressed it a little better. The words are different but the process is the same. Just my opinion, for now.

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/16/14 4:51 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
I've had a minor breakthrough in the last few days. I've opened up to my family and friends about how I'm feeling. No one suspected in the least except my girlfriend. They ended up being very supportive of me, especially one of them as I mentioned in the post above.

In short, in the last few days I've eliminated all distractions and am just studying with him for this exam I'm preparing. There are a lot of exams I need to prepare in order to pass this year: Pathology, Pharmacology, Methodology, Image Diagnostics, and in September Cardiology, Gastroenterology, Pneumology and Semeiotics. It's going to be an enlightening few months, in my opinion, regardless of how it goes. I've already started to feel a little better, and the pathological anxiety is nearly gone when I'm studying around other people. Less time for my mind to become hyperactive, I guess.

The problem remains that there are some days when I'll be forced to study alone. In those days I'll make larger breaks consisting of Anapanasati and observe my emotions. I've gathered a lot of good advice from everyone here: thank you all so much. I hope I'll come out a better person at the end of these months. 

I'll select one answer to resolve the thread, but everyone has provided me so much, each one individually. Thank you.

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/17/14 3:08 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva,
Welcoming, being aware of, aware of experiencing- all mean the same.

For vipassana, I suggest going to http://contemplativefitnessbook.com/ and look at the Methods chapter.

The Sedona Method doesn't define letting go which they call releasing. Here is an analogy they use. Hold a pencil in your hand with your palm facing upward. Hold it tight. It probably feels uncomfortable after a time. Now turn your hand over and let go. They suggest actually doing it.

jack

RE: Aversion and fear towards work - approach it gradually or fully?
Answer
6/17/14 6:33 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
This is a fairly long thread, and I don't want to butt in, but this really just sounds like a phobia to me.  I've dealt with a number of phobias, and they can be cured completely.  Essentially what you need to do is accept the fear and aversion as it is and face the thing you're afraid of.  Don't try to reason your way out of it.  You're dealing with an unproductive trigger in your mind, so you just need to weaken and eventually sever the connection by neither repressing or expressing the emotion - just letting it be exactly as it is and spend time with it.  You can work your way into this with smaller sessions leading to larger ones, but have faith that it WILL go away if you simply face it and deal with it.  I had a great deal of anxiety that I got rid of this way.  The fear itself is what you've become averse to.  This is a thought loop - you are afraid of being afraid.  It spins around until you can allow yourself to feel the fear and say to yourself, "this is nothing to be afraid of, it's just a tightness in the chest and a preassure in the head.  It won't be here forever and I don't have to grasp at relief.  There is literally nothing I have to do."

The best advice I can think of is, don't take the fear seriously.  Don't take life itself seriously.  Remind yourself each moment that you're just sitting in a room with some paper, it's not the past and it's not the future.  If you were to stop what you're doing right now, get on a bus, and ride down to Bolivia, your whole life would dissolve behind you.  You could take a job at a small gas station and spend your evenings on a rocking chair on the porch.  None of this stuff going on in your head is real, there's just the paper in front of you, some books to read, and the crickets chirping outside.  Let yourself die in your imagination, and be reborn into this moment where there's never anything serious, just things happening and feelings happening. 

The greatest tool to deal with anxiety, I've found, is negative visualization.  Spend some time imagining yourself failing test after test, your mother crying and calling you a failure, your father's look of dissapointment, the shame you would feel (I don't know your life situation, haha, but you know what I mean).  Allow yourself to live the actual situations you're afraid of in your mind.  Imagine your GF dumping you and allow yourself to be sad and heartbroken and lonely.  Give your fear exactly what it expects.  As you sit with these things, you'll realize that, hey, you could ACTUALLY deal with the worst thing you could imagine happening.  It might suck, but life would go on afterword.  What we fear is the unknown.  When you shine a bright light on what you're afraid of, it tends to look pretty weak.  Don't avoid the feelings or the images your mind makes, just let them come and give yourself to them completely.  You'll come out the other side feeling very tough, sometimes even blissful.  The fear will eventually fade, and then go away completely.

Hope this helps. emoticon

EDIT: I did a bit more skimming.  It looks like you want a method.  Do negative visualization!  It works amazingly well.  I actually started to look forward to it at one point because it would launch me into blissful waves of euphoria.  I used to be terribly afraid of spiders, and at one point during a session of looking at tarantulas on my tablet, I realized I felt nothing but love for the poor, misunderstood creatures.  I'd imagine spiders crawling on my face, or running under the covers when I slept.  I made a vow not to kill any I saw in the house and started moving them outside.  Eventually I didn't even have to do that, I just let them be now.  They're kinda cute with their little skuttling legs, you know?