In my 28 years as a hospital psychiatrist…. I have been threatened physically at least twice a week; hot coffee has been thrown on my face and clothing; my eye glasses have been grabbed and flung across the hallway; I have been yelled at with the worst of expletives and religious slurs; I have been kicked and slugged; my nose has been bloodied (but not broken!) So…what does one do when such things happen??? Our greatest freedom is to choose how to respond to any situation that comes our way. This is the essence of our free will. This is what makes us wonderfully human, and which keeps us away from victimhood. Certainly, what goes on in a psychiatric hospital is beyond the norm in terms of the usual human interactions (hopefully). But this choice, this choice of freedom, inevitably confronts us in normal everyday life: a plane flight canceled; a slow driver; a child screaming for a second lollipop; a spouse shaming a spouse; a teenager slandering his parents; a smart phone in your hand. So, if you’re looking for some good practice to achieve some semblance of freedom, come hang out at a psychiatric hospital for a while. As the Good Book says, we cannot control what goes on around us, only how we respond.
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