Forgiveness Friendship Grace Happiness Healthy Living Letting Go Positive Change Relationships

What Are You Packing On Your Journey Through Life?

In her bestseller, Wild, Cheryl Strayed describes her journey of self-discovery hiking solo along the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. She initially overpacked the giant backpack she would nickname, Monster. She also arranged for packages to arrive at various points along the trail to resupply her with essentials for the journey, including fresh clothes, boots and cash.

Davidicus Wong's Black BagWhen preparing for family vacations, I must restrain myself from overpacking our first aid kit. I stuff in a lot more than Polysporin, Bandaids and slings. I pack sutures, surgical tools, scalpel blades, needles, syringes, sterile gloves and dressings, epinephrine, Benadryl, Gravol, oral and topical antibiotics, a stethoscope, an otoscope, oral airways and a resuscitation mask.

When preparing for a trip, you can’t bring everything you may possibly need. You don’t want to bring every comfort from home . . . or you might as well stay there. You can’t foresee everything that may happen.

Space is limited, and you don’t want to be weighed down by a load on your shoulders.

We all carry baggage as we journey through life. Our load can be physical or emotional.

It can be our habits – our stereotypical patterns of thought, feeling and action. It can be maladaptive ways of thinking about our selves, our family and our friends. It can be sadness, anger, anxiety or grief. It can be an addiction.

To critically unpack and sort through everything in our lives is much harder than emptying our bags. Much of what loads us down and keeps us from moving forward is invisible to us.

But life offers hints. Do you make the same mistakes with different people? Do you get into the same arguments with the same people? Does a person, place, date or experience trigger panic, sadness, anger or self-criticism? Have voices from the past become your negative self-talk?

Choose your travelling companions with care. Real friends love and support you in a reciprocal relationship of give and take. They are fun to be with and they stay by your side when things are not so fun. They keep you moving forward, and they help you to grow.

The absolute essentials that we need cannot be carried or shipped to us. They are the personal qualities that we honour and nurture in ourselves: curiosity and humility to continually learn and laugh at ourselves, the courage to take the risks necessary for growth, the flexibility to meet the unexpected, the creativity to discover solutions, and the grace to accept the worst of life and to give back the best we have.

As we move forward into a new year, what are you carrying on your back? What will you bring along from the old year? What will you leave behind?

patient-doctor relationship Positive Potential Relationships

The Patient-Doctor Relationship: The Sources of Conflict

The positive patient-doctor relationship is essential to your health, but it is often far from perfect.

The reasons for conflict and discomfort are complex. Doctors are human too with their own priorities and emotional reactions. Sometimes our styles and personalities clash. As with all our relationships, we each bring emotional baggage to the bedside.

Medical school teaches us to be dispassionate and dissociated so that we can be objective and clear-headed in an emergency. If we do this too well, we can come across as cold and clinical.

We learn a particular system of inquiry – a way of funneling down our questions from broad to narrow. When we become too focused on disease and overly task-oriented, we may seem abrupt and rushed. Doctors are known to interrupt their patients’ answers in order to ask another question!

Patients sometimes feel like they are treated like a number or a disease. They want to be seen and treated as complete individuals.

Next: You may be surprised how doctors really feel about patients.