Have you experienced a warm, supportive relationship with a doctor who took care of you in the past, or is taking care of you now? The keyword in that question is “relationship,” suggesting that you and your physician are together in a difficult time. Over the years, many patients have shared with me the somewhat startling at first, but ultimately healing experience they have had with me. The startling part comes from encountering a doctor who wants to create a loving, safe place for patients to become aware of their own healing potential…to be a full partner in the journey. Instead of feeling intimidated by me, patients have been able to relax and be their unique selves. And, just to underline my intent to create an equal partnership I let patients know they could call me Bernie!
While your doctor brings crucial knowledge and experience to bear on the healing process, he or she must also help you reach within to find the strength that comes from a better understanding and acceptance of the real you. Healing can happen when both partners—doctor and patient—acknowledge the emotional basis of relationships and neither are afraid to express, without judgment, the caring support that nurtures us all. Relationships are not about the individuals involved, but rather the relationship and work all those involved must do to make it work.
One of my patients told me that when choosing a doctor she would ask the doctor, “Do you believe in me?” I suggest that you ask that same question of a doctor you are expecting to work with on your journey of healing. Also ask if the doctor is ever criticized by patients, nurses and family. The good ones say yes because they are willing to learn from their mistakes and critics. If you are open and sincere when you first talk to a doctor but feel no response, find another doctor. Remember, the partnership is an equal one. It can be one of the most rewarding relationships in your life, going far beyond successfully fighting a disease or keeping you healthy. It can validate your unique self as one who understands what we are all here for—to love one another. Remember doctors need hugs too.