Surrender Experiment at Work



I'm reading Michael Singer's Surrender Experiment. It's written like an autobiography and chronicles his life of surrendering over and over to whatever appears in front of him. It's a fascinating read, but not easy to implement. I've been trying to surrender to the "low hanging fruit' as he calls it: the weather, my food preferences, traffic, etc. I'm doing great with surrendering to these things, but I'm not doing very well surrendering at work.


One recent morning I sat at my desk waiting for my first patient of the day. I waited. And waited some more. I thought maybe they'd no-showed. The minutes ticked by. No 8:10 patient, either? I was getting antsy. About 15 minutes after the day was supposed to start, my patients started showing up (we have a 15 min late rule, and apparently the 8:00 was there seconds before 8:15). The 3rd, 4th, and 5th patients of the day also showed up. Then I found out someone scheduled NEW patients in my first two spots of the day. AND, the new patients hadn't done their paperwork ahead of time. Late and no paperwork, two unpardonable sins in the world of dermatology where patients are scheduled in 10-minute appointment slots.


Time is a big trigger for me, anyway. Especially running behind schedule. I almost never run more than 10 or 20 minutes late with my appointments, and even this flusters me. To get behind before I've even started is unacceptable. Deep breath. Let go. They're probably super fast patients, "one-spotters", hopefully (as in, they're only concerned about one skin lesion and decline a full-body skin check). It'll be fine. Except they weren't one-spotters. Both had complicated issues requiring labs, reviewing notes from other doctors, discussing how other body systems might be playing into their skin issues, not to mention the time it takes the MA to enter their data into the computer. Grrr. One asked a million questions. I didn't do a great job letting go. On the outside, I appeared calm (I hope). On the inside, I was squirming and mentally calculating how I could catch up over the next hour. I finished with those two patients, dashed in to see the third one, and was about to go in to see my 4th when my MA warned me, "Ms. B isn't happy she's had to wait. She seems very testy". Grrr. I smoothed out things with Ms. B and rushed into the next room and the next and the next. 90 minutes later my bladder was about to burst. The two patients waiting in the frigid rooms would have to wait a few minutes.. I allowed myself to run into the bathroom and lock the door. I took a deep inhale. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. That girl didn't look relaxed and in a state of surrender. She looked stressed. She's not smiling and her face is tense. For once, I was glad for the mask hiding my set jaw. I took three more deep belly breaths, I let my shoulders relax.


I resume my morning in a calmer state, but my egoic mind keeps reminding me of how the morning started, "Are you going to put up with that? Aren't you going to find out who scheduled that and screwed up your morning?". I thought about surrendering. I considered it, then said, "Screw it". I took a screenshot of the schedule and sent it to our head PA and the head receptionist. Apparently it was a scheduling snafu. She apologized. It took another hour, but I finally let it go.


I went in the next day determined to surrender and not micromanage my schedule. The Universe presented me with a similar issue, this time in the 30 minutes before lunch. My 11:20 patient was nowhere to be seen. Another new patient. Another new patient without paperwork who was late to her appointment. I watched the clock, determined to "catch" the front if they tried to sneak her in after the 15-minute window. After 12 minutes, she arrived. 12 minutes may seem like no biggie, but it was technically already someone else's appointment time. And it meant me getting 12 minutes less of a 30-minute lunch. My stomach was growling, I'd eaten 5 hours earlier and was getting hangry. I always put on a pleasant face for patients, but inside, I was tense and irritated. I walked into the room with a half-hearted greeting. Oh. I saw a friend. A friend I haven't seen in ages. Oh. Okay, my anger immediately melted and I smiled a genuine smile. She apologized for being late and I let it go.


And yet, I failed my surrender test again. I know from past experience that this test will be conveniently reapplied until I finally pass.

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