As veterinary professionals we are taught to question, prove, and critically analyse. For many of us, those analytical skills merely needed honing, not teaching. That’s because a scientific mind was already present within us, ready to evaluate our world around us.
These skills are a small part of what makes us good clinicians; we need to be able to query, doubt, require evidence, assess and then re-assess, make judgements and decisions, in order to do our jobs well. However, like in many professions which attract the ‘Type A’ personalities (i.e. ambitious, hard-working, perfectionists, see Signs You’re a Type A), we veterinarians often hold ourselves to standards so high that at times they are unobtainable. That’s when those feelings of ‘I can’t do this’, and ‘I’m not good enough’, start to overwhelm us. That nasty, negative voice we all have in our heads pipes up with ‘Remember when you also messed up last week‘, and ‘Everybody thinks you’re useless‘.
I’ve heard that voice many times myself, and no doubt I will again, but I am here to encourage you to tell that voice to SHUT UP! To be honest, my exact turn of phrase when quieting my own inner demons is slightly different/expletive, but this is a yoga blog so we should all try and remain calm! I’m not saying it’s easy to stem the torrent of terrible thoughts, but it can be done. Like with anything, the more you practise, the easier it will become. However, if you need some help, or a place to get started, feel free to use these ones below:
I am worthy
You earn your place at work every time you turn up ready to help people and animal patients, despite how you may be feeling on the inside. You worked hard to be where you are now, and you have every right to your successes, and to your failures, which do not take away your worth. You also deserve time off and breaks.
You are worthy.
I am smart
Whether you’re a vet, nurse, tech, work in industry, or as a para-professional, you have to have your wits about you when you’re working with animals. Add to that the years of study and training in order to qualify for your role in the first place means you have to be on the ball. Despite knowing this deep down, it can be easy to forget if you’re constantly comparing yourself to others. You can’t do that complex orthopaedic procedure? Well fine, but maybe you have skills in helping clients to make the most of a tight budget and do right by their pets. You can’t remember all those drug dosages off the top of your head? Who cares? That’s what formularies are for – maybe you excel at putting people at ease and staying calm in a crisis. Intelligence takes many forms.
You are smart.
I am compassionate
You give, and you give, and you give, because you care. Now it’s time to give back. You are empathetic. Feeling low on compassion? Compassion fatigue is a real problem in our industry, (Compassion Fatigue in Veterinary Medicine) but it doesn’t mean that you’re not compassionate, it just means you’ve burned through the vast amounts you had to give, so maybe it’s time to take a break and be kind to yourself. It was there in the first place, and it will be there again.
You are compassionate.
I am loved
If only we could all see ourselves the way that our pets see us, then we’d know! Take a moment to think of anyone, be it friend, family member, partner, colleague, or even stranger, who has shown you any kindness or support recently. Recall a time when through someone’s thoughts, voice, actions, or touch, you felt loved, even if you don’t feel it now. Think of someone you love. As a British person, the whole concept of ‘love yourself’ used to make me cringe, until I realised that the true meaning isn’t that you love yourself above others, it’s that you love yourself alongside others, and why shouldn’t you?
You are loved.
I am enough
Yes, you are. Your best efforts are enough. Your knowledge may feel like it will never be enough, but it was enough for today. Your abilities are enough. As a veterinary professional you are enough, but you are also more than that. You are enough as an individual. You are enough as an entity existing outside of work with thoughts, ideas, feelings, hobbies, and relationships. You can’t control what happens around you, but you can control who you are, and that is enough for now.
You are enough.
I am worthy. I am smart. I am compassionate. I am loved. I am enough.
Hopefully something in this list hit home for you personally, but if not, try writing down your own affirmations. It can also be helpful to some people to say them in front of a mirror, or think about them before bedtime, or when you wake up. If you can’t do five, do one, and be kind to yourself.