If the past year has taught us anything, it is how quickly life can change. The veterinary industry is working through many challenges, including increased demand and a decreased workforce. My hospital is no exception. Since the end of last summer, we have been working with a skeleton crew when several of our team members left to either stay home with their children or take other positions. Those of us still working have been growing weary under the weight of our increased workload.
When work increases and team capacity decreases, we may begin thinking of ourselves as victims. I experienced an episode of this on Thursday. I was the only scheduled doctor with surgeries and also a spattering of client appointments. As I slogged through the pile of records that I had leftover from earlier in the week, attended to my surgeries, and answered the myriad of questions that my team brought to me, I started to feel overwhelmed. I am usually excited by a good challenge, but my brain goes into victim mode when I start to feel overwhelmed with stress. As I begin to feel like a victim, I become short with my team and reclusive. I want to crawl into a hole to protect myself from one more question. I get snappy and impatient. Finally, my brain tells me that it is all too much, and I start to indulge in my victim story. I begin to think, “Why do I have to do everything? Maybe I should just quit. Why won’t they leave me alone?”
I have coached others and had coaching on this exact subject, but my brain still gets away from me sometimes. So, when I find myself thinking that I am a victim of my circumstances, I have to ask myself one key question to help bring me out of my victim thinking. How do you want to show up today?
My attitude is my responsibility and requires constant work on self-improvement. I have the power to change the way that I choose to think about everything. Self-development is the key to controlling ourselves when we start to feel overwhelmed and victimized. Your subconscious mind will direct you if you ignore training it to behave. I mean that if we don’t practice positive thinking, our brains will not learn to change from negativity to positivity.
Decide who you want to be, and practice being that person each day — keeping in mind that we all need to experience failure to learn lessons. If you strive to take one small step towards your ideal self daily and visualize the person you want to be, you can snap out of your thinking as soon as you realize that you are in victim mode.
Have some “power thoughts” at your disposal to use in times of extreme stress. For example, thinking things like, “You got this,” “All things will pass,” “You are a rock star,” or anything that helps you to drop the victim statements. Taking control of your brain requires you to teach it new and powerful thoughts. It may feel strange when you start to use these thoughts — they will feel inauthentic and cliche, but once your brain starts to believe them, it will be easier to get out of “poor me” and into solution mode.
When you feel like a victim, remember to work to change your thinking and be the person you want to be.
– Dr. Julie Cappel
“There’s nothing more daring than showing up, putting ourselves out there, and letting ourselves be seen.” – Brené Brown