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by Cherie T. Buisson, DVM, CHPV
Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Veterinarian
Originally published on DrAndyRoark.com

I’m sitting in an empty room at a conference trying to decide if I’m upset that no one showed to hear my lecture. I’m about 90% not taking it personally, and 10% feeling small and unimportant.

Logically I know that it’s Sunday morning (the last day of the conference), and this was a very specialized lecture placed in the first time slot of the morning.  This is a recipe for disaster. People often skip the first lecture of the day because it’s too early. I know, because I’ve been one of those people. Ten am seems so much less annoying than driving to get somewhere for 8 or 9, especially on a weekend.

There’s a little bit of disbelief and delight that I’m being paid to sit quietly in an empty room for an hour. How many of my fellow veterinary professionals just wish they could do that for free? What should I do? Meditate? Sleep? Catch up on social media? No, I’m choosing to write an article (i.e., work). Call it a great work ethic if you like. Personally, I think there’s something wrong with me.

So I’m writing an article and being mindful of my breathing (now I’m multitasking – seriously?!?). I’m trying to find the lesson in this moment. I also have three more lectures, and a tiny voice in my head is asking if anyone will show. Is it possible I’ll have four hours of solitude? (spoiler alert – NO – I’m talking about compassion fatigue later, so everyone will be here).

I think the lesson here is to seize the moment. Instead of stressing out and sweating and pacing – I found something to fill the time. I rested my voice (and my aching feet). I wrote. I thought. I breathed. Feeling content with your circumstances isn’t about what you intended to happen. It’s about finding a way to seek the beauty, fortune, or peace in what IS happening. Sometimes we are given a gift in the guise of a loss or disappointment, but if we focus on the loss, we can miss its sidekick: opportunity.

I’m not advocating for “grin and bear it” or always seeking the positive. Ignoring a small or large disappointment isn’t generally the best tactic. However, wallowing in it doesn’t exactly provide great results. Here’s my advice:

Acknowledging that this is something that really upsets you comes first.

Being ok with the fact that you are disappointed, hurt, or upset and loving yourself anyway is second.

Looking for the lesson is third. If you can’t find a lesson, just allow yourself to “grieve” for as long as you need to and then move forward.

Veterinary professionals tend to gravitate toward dissatisfaction, especially with their own performance (at everything). This does not in any way lead to peace or happiness. The next time you are disappointed, look for a way around it, rather than continuing to throw yourself against a closed door. Look at what lies beneath what you want, and you may find exactly what you need.