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Letter From Dr. Carron

What Fills Your Cup?

“How can you move onto the next chapter when you keep re-reading the last?” -unknown author 
My brother shared an amazing story with me a while back that really changed my thoughts on life. He explained that we all have two cups inside of us. One is an empty cup that we fill by receiving from others. The other cup is full, which we empty by giving to others. The most balanced life is one in which each cup is half full with a balance of give and take. When we take too much, such as when we work too much and neglect our family’s needs, our balance is off. When we give too much, such as constantly volunteering or caring for others with no time for ourselves, our balance is off.

When our balance is off, we’re at higher risk for illness.

I had a scare with breast cancer a few months ago--- thankfully it was very early and I am grateful, but it really made me pause. The oncologist talked about healthy living, including minimizing stress. I re-evaluated all my relationships and decided I wanted to focus on spending my time with those I have a give-and-take relationship with. We all know people who talk only about themselves, or who insist on always paying the bill. We also all know people who always say no to help, even when they’re clearly struggling.

My mom was one of those people who constantly did for others and never let anyone help her. I always admired her for that until I reached a point in my life when I was able financially to help her, yet she continued to struggle and refuse my help. I see it to this day when I go to dinner with my sisters and the fight over the bill often can get to the point of yelling. My mom’s cup for giving was always empty and her cup for receiving was also empty.  She rarely allowed others to help fill their receiving cup by letting them do for her. She could only give and actually made it seem wrong to take.

When someone does something nice for you, can you just say thank you? Or do you say, “You shouldn’t have done that,” “That was too much,” etc. Think about how good you feel when you do something nice for someone and they are simply grateful. That is your receiving cup being filled. We all give so much to our patients as physicians; we know what it feels like to be on the side of being thanked. Do you allow those you love to have the same feeling from you?
We all also have had those patients who take a great deal of time and yet still complain. They quickly empty our giving cup. We need friends and family around us who we can turn to for honest, balanced love and a little “cup refilling” on both sides.

Physician well-being is a popular topic in most areas of healthcare today.  In my opinion, physician well-being is not just yoga or meditation. It’s being in control of your time and those you spend that time with. It’s maintaining a balance of give and take. I have limited relationships recently with some friends and even family members who don’t fill my cup or let me fill theirs. I have changed my diet, re-evaluated my work situation and planned a trip with my best friend to my favorite place— Key West, FL.  I am taking control of my life and focusing on my well-being.

Think about what you can do today to remember why you went into medicine and fill your cup:
Take that extra 15 minutes with the patient who just wants to talk.
Say no to the next committee you are asked to serve on.
Call your mother.
Learn the name of the person who cleans your office.
Be on time for dinner. Actually leave 10 minutes early and buy some flowers.
Give your name to a recruiter in the place you actually want to practice.
Plan a trip.
Register for the ACOI convention.

For me, ACOI has always been a give and take. I get to give lots of my talents and get to “take” and fill my cup with incredible relationships, like the generous members helping with service and policy development. In ACOI, I have a physician-oriented place to come home to. I feel welcomed and accepted and remember why I went into medicine when I’m at an ACOI meeting.

With CME requirements and so much information to stay on top of as physicians, we at ACOI want to be the place you come to fill your cups.  Really take time to think about what fills and empties your cup. Spend your time and resources with those people, employers and organizations that keep you balanced. Let us know at ACOI if we are not filling your cups. We have lots of opportunities for you to give your time, talent and money.  We are moving on to the next chapter and working on a plan for Osteopathic Internal medicine for the next 75 years and want you to be a part!

It’s always been within you.

“Fill the cup of happiness for others and there will be enough overflowing to fill yours to the brim.” Rose Pastor Stokes


Annette Carron, DO, CMD, FACOI, FAAHPM