Being Mindful of Our Thoughts

Our thoughts can influence how we behave and respond to circumstances.

Most of us have struggled with negative thoughts at some point in our lives. I know I did when I was a new mum and during certain moments of my medical training. This likely stemmed from fatigue,  performance anxiety, wondering what others thought of me and comparing myself to others. I therefore try to be mindful of my thoughts and to surround myself with positive influences be it in the form of books I read, the people I interact with or the media that I expose myself to.

Surrounding ourselves with a positive environment and mindset does not mean ignoring our negative emotions or the reality around us. It means reflecting on our thoughts and feelings, acknowledging the emotions that are there, and working through them so that nothing festers or remains unresolved. It can help to ask questions such as “Why am I feeling this way? Is it rational? What can I do to rise above it? Who can I talk to about this issue?

I recently read a book by I.C. Robledo that really reminded me how important it is to be IMG_0962mindful of our thoughts. Here are some of the ideas he shares in his book which I draw from regularly in an attempt to be careful about what I focus my mental energy on:

  1. Focus on what you can control, not on what you cannot control
  2. Focus on the positive, not the negative
  3. Focus on what you can do, not on what you cannot do
  4. Focus on what you have, not on what you do not have
  5. Focus on the present, not on the past and future
  6. Focus on what you need, not on what you want
  7. Focus on what you can give, not on what you can take

In this time of confinement and uncertainty, physically apart from loved ones, it is even more important to guard our thoughts and reach out for help when we need it.

Featured image courtesy of medium.com

When the Fog Lifts

The other day, I was on my daily commute to the hospital for one of my clinical rotations. The train chug chugged along and as it neared one of two bridges, I turned my head expectantly to view the expansive water and distant hills. But on this particular day, the view which I have come to treasure, was blanketed by an unrelenting fog. I could see absolutely nothing outside of the window. It was a disconcerting feeling. What was happening behind the fog? When would the fog lift? As the train made it to the other side of the bridge, the water and hills left behind, the fog gradually lifted, trees and buildings slowly appeared and my view of the outside world became crystal clear once again.

This two minute experience got me thinking about how similar life can be to this event. There are times in our lives when our path forward is clear. We can feel confident enough to proceed on our journey. There are other moments, when things become less clear, our confidence may become shrouded in uncertainty and we wonder where has the path disappeared to? One thing I do know. The fog eventually lifts, and we will see clearly again. It just requires patience, determination and the will to never give up.

I recently completed my second Psychiatry rotation and have just completed my first 2 weeks of Internal Medicine. Both have been great learning experiences with amazing staff physicians and residents. On some days though, I feel truly tired. I wonder if I have the strength and ability to become a good doctor. Or I struggle to balance medicine with family life. Doubts try to creep in. But I also feel so grateful to be in a position to help people so directly in their moments of crisis, illness or fear. It truly is a humbling and privileged position to be in! And even on those cloudy, unclear days…the fog eventually lifts!

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View from the train in winter-time

Featured image: View from the train in summer time, late evening (potentialdoctor.com)

Second Year of Medical School…Done!

It’s official! I am done with the second year of school and officially half-way through medical school! The past few months have been a whirlwind of activity as I completed my rotations in Surgery, Anesthesia, Ophthalmology and Radiology! This was definitely the most challenging block for me in terms of schedule and the overall demands of the rotations.

Some of the most rewarding experiences were learning how to bag-mask and intubate patients as well as put in IV lines. It was very hands-on and there were moments when I literally felt like the patient’s life was in my hands! I also enjoyed using slit-lamp biomicroscopes to look into the inner world of the eye. What a magnificent and breathtaking part of the body. It was moments like these that reminded me of the miracle and beauty of God’s creation!

I also had the opportunity to do a night shift shadowing an OBGYN resident in the Birthing Center. I had the privilege of assisting on 2 deliveries which was amazing! During the past few months, I have been praying for more clarity regarding what specialty I would like to go into and I am happy to announce that I have narrowed down my list significantly. I will have to keep you in suspense for now, but stay tuned for the big reveal at some point over the next few months.

The past 2 weeks were filled with numerous exams, lectures and small groups to prepare us for clerkship which starts at the end of July. One small group about learning in the clinical setting particularly stood out to me. The main idea was that clerkship is not about performance but about progressive learning. Meaning that the priority is not about impressing with our knowledge but rather about having a willingness to learn and progress along a continuum. I think this is true for many things in life. We will never be perfect but we can have an attitude of humility that there is always room for improvement. We will make mistakes, but we will get better with time! Persevering and refining our skills (in any field) only makes us better and more capable of serving those around us.

So what’s next? Five weeks of vacation to rest, recuperate, have fun with friends and family as I look ahead to the third year of medical school…CLERKSHIP!

 

 

A Fruit a Day…An Attitude of Joy

Welcome back to our study on the fruits of the Spirit! We started off looking at love and how this can be applied in daily life. Now we are on to the next fruit: JOY!

Here is my favorite definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

  • a source or cause of delight: What gives you delight? For me, it’s the people in my life, God, hobbies, science, music, reading, learning, and many more! Remembering those things that give us delight can be a good way to mitigate the difficult moments. Am I feeling discouraged? Call a good friend and spend some time together. Am I feeling depressed? Get out of the house and do something active that I enjoy.

Now I have to admit that initially when I sifted through my Bible, not all the verses I found on joy had me doing cartwheels. Many verses had references to “trials” and “perseverance”. But what about being happy?  Inspired by my husband who has studied ancient Greek, I decided to look up the original Greek word for joy which is “chara“. Rather than an expression of mere happiness, it alludes more to a sense of appreciative gladness.

So, it seems that joy is more of an attitude than just a state of being. Being joyful or rejoicing is choosing to give thanks and be grateful even in the face of difficult circumstances. It doesn’t mean we pretend that nothing is wrong or that we do not need support. It means we are choosing to believe that something good will come out of it and that even now in those challenging moments, there is still something to be grateful for. Very much easier said than done of course but I’m hoping to come back and read this whenever I’m having trouble being joyful!

Here are some of my favorite verses on the topic of joy:

  • sorrowful yet always rejoicing…having nothing and yet possessing everything” 2 Corinthians 6:10. This was in the context of the hardships Paul was going through as he was being persecuted for his faith. I think this translates well to other situations in life. We may be going through tough times, we may not have much, but yet we are rejoicing. This does not mean that I always have a smile plastered on my face, but internally, I know God is in control of every situation even when it doesn’t feel like it.
  • Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete…” James 1:2-4. In the past, this was one of those verses that I tended to scout over and try to ignore because I didn’t like the idea of being “tested”. But I have had great role models in my life who have been amazingly strong through the most adverse situations and they have quoted this verse to me often. It reminds me of the verse on being refined by fire and surely life does refine us.
  • I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely” Psalm 16:9. I love the simplicity of this verse. It exudes an assurance of security in Christ and this in itself is a reason to be joyful!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”. Galations 5:22-23.

One of those 'joyful' moments. My husband and I petting a cheetah in Kenya.

One of those ‘joyful’ moments. My husband and I petting a cheetah in Kenya. The cheetah happily purred as loudly as a cat!