Finding A Way Out

By Jimmy Turner, MD
The Physician Philosopher

Our natural response to a bad situation is to look for a way out. But if you don’t do this first, you’re going to end up just as unhappy in your new situation. Don’t put the cart ahead of the horse. 

Physician Disability Insurance

Today’s thought is this, before you change circumstances, you must first do the tough thought work. Otherwise, you’ll end up back where you are right now. 

Why Are We Unhappy?

So here’s the problem. When we’re miserable, unhappy, or otherwise dissatisfied with life, instead of facing things head on and figuring out what the issue is, we often look to change our situation instead. 

So for those of us that are burned out, morally injured or otherwise feeling stressed or overwhelmed by the various things that we have in our life, the answer seems to be to leave medicine, to go part-time, create non-clinical income streams. 

We think those changes will make us happy or content or satisfied or fulfilled. 

The truth is if we don’t figure out why we’re unhappy first we have a very high chance of being unhappy after we make the change.

Without examining your current thoughts, changing jobs, producing non-clinical income, financial independence, financial freedom, they’re not necessarily going to make you happier. 

We Want An Escape Hatch

This is the problem, is that we look for an escape hatch. We look for a new job or switch to part-time or to locums work. We seek financial independence or FIRE through saving enough quickly or generating non-clinical income. And all of these are escape patches to a bad situation. 

If you don’t do the tough thought work first, there’s a really high chance that you’re going to end up changing your circumstance and still being unhappy afterwards, right? And that’s not really the goal. 

If you ask people, why do you want to do this? They’ll say, “because I want to be happy, because I want to be content”. Well, what if I told you that even after accomplishing those things, you might not be happy or content, would you still want them?

Use the Thought Model

So remember the thought model? Circumstances, thoughts, feelings, actions, results, right? That is the thought model and the most fundamental lesson from that thought model, the circumstances, thoughts, feelings, actions, and results is that your circumstances do not cause your feelings. 

It’s actually our thoughts about our circumstances that cause our feelings and we control our thoughts. So this is why changing your circumstances in order to produce a new feeling, doesn’t really work because it’s not the circumstance. 

It’s not the person who cuts you off, that makes you mad, It’s your thought that they don’t care about your safety or space, right?

It’s your thoughts about the situation, right? That caused your feelings. That is why changing your circumstances, changing jobs, going to locums, doing part-time work, creating non-clinical income. 

Do the Necessary Thought Work

None of that stuff works if you don’t do the thought works first. And that is why the Alpha Coaching experience was the first thing that we offered in the coaching niche.

What we do in coaching is we examine those previously unexamined thoughts in our circumstances, we have thoughts and we examine those thoughts that are going buck wild, unexamined. 

You’ve never even thought about them before you think them all the time, they seem otherwise harmless. And then you figure out, ” Oh wow, this thought is making me feel terrible. I feel like I’m not in control. I feel unhappy and unfulfilled. I’m not having the impact that I want”. 

And that leads to the actions and results that you take, right? Those actions could be buffering our emotions with drinking, under eating, over eating. It could be avoiding them, right?

Or we can learn how to change our thoughts to create intentional thoughts that aren’t running buckwild, that are our thoughts that we’ve designed to help us feel, act, and show up how we want. 

Self Coaching is Great for A While

Some people come to me be like, ” well, Jimmy, that’s great. I understand coaching could be really helpful, but you want to do it myself. I just want it to be a DIY. Self-coach kind of person who takes these concepts and applies them to my life”. 

And that is exactly what this podcast is all about, right? These tools that we talk about, the concepts we talk about in this podcast are for you to go back and use, to apply. 

I want to teach you these concepts and I want to provide value. I provide these concepts and topics and tools and value to you through this podcast. But at some point, you’re going to realize whether now or later that coaching yourself can only get you so far. And we know this, right? 

The Benefit of an Outside Perspective

If you think about your own life and especially if you’re married or have children, how many times have you had a conversation with your partner, your spouse, or with your kids. You’re trying to help them understand something or see your perspective on whatever the topic may be. 

And you talk until you’re blue in the face, you explain how, you explain your thought process, your rationale, and they just don’t get it. And it just makes you mad and you get angry. 

Then someone else comes along. It’s your neighbor or another family member or a teacher or someone completely different. And all of a sudden that thing that you’re trying to help them understand clicks. And it’s because there’s an outside perspective. 

There’s an outside point of view that helps them understand it in a non-judgemental space. You see this happen all the time. And the reason why is because outside perspectives help us grow. 

Until you get coaching, you’re not going to realize how much faster those changes could happen. You’re not going to realize exactly where you’re stuck, talking to someone else helps you figure all that out. 

Final Thoughts

And I think that is fundamental to understand that we have to do the tough thought work before we change our circumstances. That can just be truly overwhelming when you happen to be a doctor too. And the things that we think about that are what caused that feeling of being overwhelmed. 

But until someone shows you that, you’re probably not going to believe it. And you’re probably also not going to be able to make a change. I just wanted to throw this idea out there that you have to change your thoughts before you change your circumstances. 

Most people don’t want to do the tough thought work. Don’t try to escape it and run away by changing your circumstance. Put the work in, get some coaching, but don’t change your circumstance and then expect for it to make you happy. It requires tough thought work first. 



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