Grace Growth Positive Change Positive Potential Purpose Your Calling Your Goals

Become an agent of positive change

Gibsons - Davidicus Wong
Gibsons – Davidicus Wong

Change is an unavoidable reality of life. Children grow up, and we all age. We suffer from losses, disease and accidents, and the unexpected happens.

We change as the people around us change. We grow closer and further apart.

Change might be welcomed. When people are unhappy and don’t know why or feel that they’re stuck in a rut, they may break off a relationship or quit their job though they may be no happier in the end.

If our current circumstances are not great – we’re passing through a rough patch, we can look forward to them changing as well. As I comfort my patients with constipation and gas, this too shall pass.

We must accept the good with the bad and change itself, but we don’t have to take it lying down. We need not give up or simply wait for life to get better.

We must accept also our personal responsibility and choice. How can we be agents of positive change?

When confronted by problems, we can seek the positive. What can we do to rise above complacency, surrender and self-pity? How can we launch into action? What can we do with what we have? How can we make our lives and the lives of others better?

The transformation of problems into goals can energize and empower us.

Yet we must ensure that our actions are considered and deliberate and not short-term reactions.

Visualization of your future self is a key to success. In clinical hypnosis, we engage the powerful subconscious mind with vivid imagery appealing to all the senses. Dr. Lee Pulos, a well-known clinical psychologist and hypnotherapist, recommended an ecology check on our goals to ensure that they are not harmful in any way to others.

Visualize yourself in the future. Where do you want to be in a year from now? in five years? in ten? at the end of life? How would you like to be remembered?

When considering our short-term goals, we ought to consider our mega-goals. If our short-term goals are unplanned and reactive, we will find ourselves far from where we want to be.

If we don’t align our daily actions with our deepest values and our noblest calling, we may not realize the life we were meant to live.

Many of us have considered the 100 places we’d like to see before we die but a more significant list include the top things we would like to do in life.

What actions would bring you the greatest meaning and fulfillment? What can you say and what can you do to realize the potential of this life and your relationships?

The answers should resonate in your goals.

What will you do today to move in the direction of those goals?

Beach in Gibsons - Davidicus Wong
Beach in Gibsons – Davidicus Wong
Emotions Grace Happiness

Therapeutic Thanks: What’s Right in Your Life?

Each day, I counsel patients suffering from stress, anxiety and depression. They are overwhelmed with emotions often triggered by circumstances – a stressful home situation, difficulties at work, financial distress, relationship problems, a series of negative events, or illness.

The initial focus is on their unhappiness and what is wrong in their lives.

We can get stuck there. We’ve all had difficult emotions that are difficult to shake. In many cases we cannot easily change the conditions of our lives.

When we perceive that we have lost control, we experience a state of helplessness that begets anxiety. This can evolve into hopelessness that begets despair.

Early in life – long before medical school, I learned that we have three choices in any difficult situation. We can leave it, change it or reframe it.

This commonsense advice is easy to understand but difficult for most to apply. We can’t easily leave a bad job or home situation if we are in a position of dependence. When we are responsible for others, we cannot abandon our duties and responsibilities.

In some cases we can make changes. If we are fortunate, we may voice our concerns to those who can assist us, but sometimes our voices are not heard.

The third choice – reframing – can be the greatest of challenges. Yet it can be just as empowering. When we cannot leave or change our circumstances, we can look at them from a different angle. We might consider a difficult coworker or partner with more empathy and consider things from the other’s point of view.

We may start seeing our current state as a steppingstone to a better future; we just have to persevere and ride it through. We can look at our past and the mistakes we have made from a perspective of learning and growth.

As a first step out stress and despair, I ask my patients to take stock of their resources – what is good in their lives. This may include their support – their positive relationships and their personal qualities. Sometimes we have to dig deep into their past to remind them how they were able to overcome other difficult times in their lives.

Though we tend to personally attribute our moods to our circumstances (or biochemistry), they are largely thought dependent. In turn, our thoughts are largely influenced by our moods.

When we are anxious, we overemphasize danger and risk. We catastrophize and imagine worse case scenarios. We minimize our own ability to cope.

When we are depressed, we see the negative in others, in our selves, our world and our future. We overlook what is good and beautiful all around us and in our selves.

Thankfulness can be therapeutic. By taking stock of the positives in our lives, we may feel stronger, more supported and hopeful.

The cup is no longer half empty (or – if you’re really negative – dirty, cracked and half-filled with bitter water). The cup may in fact be overflowing when we remember those who have helped us in the past, the people in our lives today and who we may help in the future.

What are you thankful for? Who should you thank today?

Appreciation too is twice blessed. It enriches both giver and receiver.

What can we do today to fill each others’ cups?IMG_2239

Growth Happiness patient-doctor relationship Positive Change Positive Potential stress management Your Goals

Turn your problems . . . into goals

In traditional medical language, patients present themselves with a “chief complaint” which makes doctors sound like they are working in public relations. It also makes our patients sound like a bunch of whiners.

We don’t see our patients that way at all. One of my early role models in family practice was Dr. Danny Shu who looked forward to his work each morning. When he looked at the appointment schedule for the day, he would see the names of people he genuinely liked – old friends he enjoyed catching up with.

I see my patients the same way, and I consider my work to be a privilege: to be entrusted to listen to my patients’ important concerns – to help people I genuinely care about.

Another way medical students are taught to conceptualize patients’ reasons for their visits is the “problem list.” For people with complicated lives – or long spans of time between their medical visits, that list can be long and dreaded by most physicians.

It can seem like a shopping list . . . for a big family. Any smart shopper knows that it’s best to see the list as a whole and to organize your visit to the grocery store. You would waste a lot of time and do a lot more walking, if you only looked at one item at a time, retracing your steps from aisle to aisle until you got to the end of your list.

Imagine someone in the express checkout (6 items or less) buying 6 items, paying the bill and repeating the process in order to get through dozens of purchases.

This happens every day at doctors’ offices. When patients don’t present their complete list up front, their doctors can be unhappily surprised by hidden items brought up after much time has already been spent working through the history, examination and management for one or more other problems.

You can help your doctor to help you by presenting all your concerns when booking your appointment and at the start of each visit. This will ensure that the doctor is better prepared to manage your concerns.

Sometimes there may be insufficient time to completely work through everything on your list. In these cases, you and your physician can work out a time to deal with the rest.

There are times in our lives when we are overwhelmed with our situation or just feel unhappy. I often see patients in these states, and it’s hard for them to know where to begin. They don’t quite know what they want or need.

In these situations, it can be helpful to ask, “What are your goals?” For example, “How would you like to feel? Where would you like to be?”

If you are unhappy with a relationship or work conditions, we can ask, “How can I improve them?”DSC00814

It’s important to spend some time turning our problems into goals. It can bring hope and a positive perspective to a challenging situation. It can empower us when we have felt helpless.

Visualizing your goals is the first step in a progressive plan towards better health and happiness.