10 Things My Second Heart Attack Taught Me - #10 Peace and Acceptance
You can find peace and acceptance that things didn’t go according to plan and then find wonder and joy on the path you are on. It might look different than you expected but it is your path nonetheless. Make the most of it.

One thing I quickly came to believe after my FIRST heart attack was that in the most profound way, it was a gift. The heart attack allowed me to finally see what the culture of overwork was doing to my body, how my beliefs about what made a good leader meshed perfectly with a society that wanted as much work done as possible with as few people as possible. 

My first heart attack engaged the rescuer side of my personality and empowered me to reach out into my community of workers and try to throw them a lifeline with my new learning. 

What my SECOND heart attack showed me was that sometimes when you have been taught that drowning is the way, you don't want a life ring.

The stories we have running in our heads about how we are in the world are powerful, lifelong scripts that once kept us safe. Just because the results have changed over time doesn't mean people want to hear that it is no longer working. 

And I had to come to peace with that. And I had to come to an acceptance of both the way I ended my career in healthcare and that my message as the "ghost of Christmas Future" was truly only a message for me. 

My second heart attack was a powerful earthquake that I could not ignore. It was the seismic shift I needed to completely comprehend that my body could not endure going back to that way of being EVER -- and I still need the reminder of that shift every day. 

I _ still _  have those overworking stories -- although I now see them in action and walk them away. I am always going to be a Type A personality but now I ask myself "does this seem like work" and if it does I banish it. 

Our society still glorifies people who sacrifice themselves to a job that will never repay in kind so I choose my conversations more carefully. 

I find myself growing less devastated when I hear of another person succumbing  to burnout or health deterioration from overwork, not because I am uncaring but because my body cannot hold that devastation without itself being devastated. 

I have to practice detachment, surrender and most importantly release when I meet with friends from that life....and deep breathing is required as I feel my stress level rise, my body tighten and my head start to spin. 

I have to accept that I participated in the means of my own destruction and find peace in the fact that I thought and was taught that this was required to do my job in the best way possible. 

I have to accept that sometimes bad things happen then happen again and to work to see the gifts that come from those low, low points.

So if you find yourself in the place where the expectation -- yours, your organization, your employer, your community, -- is to be "self-less" in your work, to give up time with your family and your self in order to be good at your job, or to ignore the signs your body is sending --you whether that is poor sleep, aches, raw emotions, frustration, un-caring -- then you are on a path that has some pretty rocky points.

You can choose to stay or choose to leave but what ever you choose you have to make some changes to the way you are proceeding. 

No one can do this for you. 

Now if you are reading this and thinking "I can't do anything about this, that is what is expected of me" then your path is harder than anyone's. There _are_ hard choices you can make -- but they all come down to choosing yourself over your current identity.  

What are you choosing?

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for articulating your experience in such a clear and concise manner! I can relate to everything you’re saying. I left my leadership healthcare career earlier than I wanted to, but had to for my health. I am triggered even driving by the hospital let alone running into a work mate. Recovery and moving on with life is a work in progress. One day at a time, and some days are better than others.

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