Leap of Faith
Updated: Oct 30, 2019
Making a career transition has been scary, exciting, liberating and paralyzing all at once. But in pushing beyond my comfort zone I am growing and healing and discovering how to live more authentically.
About ten years ago I joked to a friend that I felt like I was enrolled in a PhD with the Universe. I started reading about energy medicine and holistic care after my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and deepened my yoga and meditation practice.
It was exhilarating to explore mind-body concepts, neuro-psycho-immunology, metaphysics, quantum physics, the chakras, spirituality, epigenetics and more. Every book provided me with another lead, which I followed like Theseus in Greek mythology, who used a ball of thread to guide him out of the labyrinth after slaying the Minotaur.
Suddenly I had a new perspective on health, well being and disease-causation.
Nothing in my conventional medical training had fully acknowledged the three-dimensional nature of a person, taking into account the effects of mind on body (and vice versa), or the power of the human spirit to effect and support healing.
In that time I also encountered Logotherapy, the teaching delineated by the late Dr Viktor Frankl. His concept that the strongest motivation in human nature is the search for meaning in one's life resonated deeply with me. And using logotherapy to facilitate healing through discovering meaning provided me with a unique and powerful tool I could use for patients experiencing philosophical/existential distress as they faced their genetic diagnoses. That Frankl was a medical doctor (neurologist and psychiatrist) and fully addressed the three-dimensional nature of his patients felt like a synchronistic connection. His work provided me with the confirmation to keep exploring this new perspective in my clinical practice.
The real joy of my clinical genetic work was the counselling aspect, rather than the ‘hard’ science of genes and rapidly progressing technology. And that led me to support colleagues in the form of clinical Supervision, always using the lens of meaning-orientation to facilitate shifts in perspective.
Interestingly, I found a link between my clinical genetic work, metaphysics and energy medicine, and logotherapy through the emerging field of epigenetics.
It felt like pieces of a puzzle were beginning to fall together, though I couldn’t yet see the picture.
And then I found myself experiencing my own existential crisis:
Did I really want to practice clinical genetics for the rest of my life? What of my desire to bring logotherapy and the use of energy concepts into mainstream medical thinking and practice? Was I really using my unique talents and gifts to their full potential by staying in my well-defined clinical genetic role? And how to confront and resolve the growing sense that it was my ‘alternative’ offerings of logotherapy counselling, yoga nidra (deep relaxation) and creating and delivering meaning-oriented workshops and talks that really stimulated me?
And so, hours of Supervision and another dozen books or so later, I finally faced some core issues. I’ll only highlight two here:
The first was coming to terms with the fact that being a doctor in the conventional health care system no longer satisfied me.
I had to acknowledge a sense of shame and failure around this.
Shame that I was somehow fundamentally flawed, wrong, because I’d denied myself the chance to follow my true passions for so long. In a sense I'd lied to myself – the very opposite of self-compassion and living according to my true values - and so this must make me unlovable, unforgivable. And failure because in transitioning away from a conventional medical career I was perhaps saying that medicine was the wrong choice all along, and that I wasn’t ‘tough’ enough to stay in it for the long haul.
The second was exploring my sense of self-worth. I’d always realised that the role or title of doctor did not define me. But society places huge value on that title, both financially and in terms of status. And though it was liberating to know that I was providing beneficial support for healing through my ‘alternative’ offerings I had to embrace myself more fully to believe that what I do, what I give of myself as a logotherapist, speaker and facilitator is worthy of recognition and remuneration, whether or not society agrees.
I had to embrace myself more fully to believe that what I do, what I give of myself as a logotherapist, speaker and facilitator is worthy of recognition and remuneration, whether or not society agrees.
My PhD is done, and the post-doc is about to start. Setting up this Grateful Living website has been my leap of faith, a jump into the unknown, away from the familiar world of medicine that has been my life for over two decades. I endeavour to use any insights, experiences and gifts that come to me as a result in all my offerings.
And just by reading this you are already a part of that journey.