This year has had its challenges. I experienced the shocking and traumatic loss of my almost 16-year-old nephew. I also shared in the travesties experienced by my patients. The unexpected and premature loss of my long-term patient’s young adult daughter, a patient ravaged by cancer which led him from diagnosis to death within a span of a year, and another patient who was laid off from his job after many years of service, and I could go on and on.
I see the pain, but I also have the opportunity to see the incredible striving and resilience of others. Despite the disappointing and life altering medical diagnosis of my patient’s adolescent daughter, she remained present, attentive, task oriented, and emotionally supportive throughout the process. A patient who passed the bar exam and got married, after many years of struggle and stuckness, and a teen who was finally appropriately diagnosed after being overlooked because of her intelligence and her ability to overcompensate.
There is so much that we don’t have control over. We must accept our fate and circumstances despite how incredibly painful it can be at times. We make the choice to either give up or work through whatever we are faced with. At times it can feel so daunting and nearly impossible to move through. We wonder if we’ll make it out on the other end, and if we happen to, what will become of us in the process.
We cope in all different “human” ways. I sat with a colleague the other day who shared that each and every day she imagines her daughter’s funeral in order to be more open and accepting in the case if something catastrophic happens to her. She expressed not wanting to take any chances because life is so precarious. Even through our “preparation,” we could never truly know how we would behave if we found ourselves in those circumstances.
Some of us don’t even want to go there because it’s way too painful and distressing. We may cope by denying or disregarding any sad thoughts or feelings that surfaces. There is no right or wrong way, just our own unique way, which may vary from person to person, moment to moment, and situation to situation. All we have is ourselves and the present moments that were blessed and afforded with.
This time we have is precious and priceless. It helps if we accept ourselves for who we are and set standards for ourselves that help fortify a meaningful and prideful existence. All we know is right here right now. We don’t know 2 minutes from now, an hour from now, or a year into the future. We have choices now.
Consider shifting your mindset to reflect acceptance of who you are and expanding it to who you still want to be.
Shift Your Mindset To:
- I’m not a bad person when I act badly; I am a person who has acted badly.
- I can accept myself whether I win, lose, or draw. I have the right to choose differently next time.
- I will not define myself solely by others’ opinions of me.
- I can be myself without trying to prove myself.
- I have many faults and can work on correcting them without blaming, condemning, or damning myself for having them.
- I can stop proving to myself as to whether I’m a good or a bad person.
- I can accept my humanness and imperfections because we all have them.
- I can accept that I have favorable and less favorable parts. They are only part of me, not all of me.
- Accepting myself as being human is better than trying to prove my worthiness or have broad or unrealistic expectations of myself.
- I can notice challenges, disadvantages, and failures without judging or defining myself by them.
- I will seek contentment or satisfaction, rather than happiness, because happiness is impossible to ascertain because it’s so broad and ambiguous.
- I can feel guilt and seek to change my behavior, rather than take on demoralizing shame which generally leads to cutting off and inaction.
- I will just do it, whether I feel like it or not.
- I commit to challenging myself each and every day.
- I will act on behalf of my values, rather than my fears.
- I am not at the mercy of my circumstances. I can still choose to find purposefulness and meaning in life.
- It may feel worse to fail, but failure teaches me what I want and what’s truly important to me.
- I deserve to be respected, protected, and loved.
- My desires and needs have worth.
- Being who I truly am is my divine right.
If we integrate these into our mindset, we can be more present and make choices more mindfully. I’m reminded every day how unpredictable life is, it can change on a dime, without warning or preparation. Life may not necessarily be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here, we should revel in it and dance.