APRIL KUNG, DVM ♦ April 6, 2018
A lot of us go into veterinary medicine because we think people are gross. I did. But I’ve had an epiphany. I suspect this humorous statement so often expressed by people in the field of veterinary medicine may be a clue as to why we have such high rates of anxiety and burnout and depression. I think it may be a clue as to why so many of us are overwrought, over-achieving perfectionists.
Many of us admit in quiet company that we really don’t like people very much. Mark Twain’s statement, “The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog,” resonates with us. A lot. But is it possible that our feelings about other people reflect how we really feel about ourselves? After all, we are people too.
Perhaps, deep down, we don’t really like ourselves very much either? Is this why we drive ourselves so hard? Because we’re trying to atone for some kind of deficit or defect we sense in ourselves? Is this why so many of us have difficulty setting healthy boundaries? Why we find it so difficult to ask for what we want and demand what we need? Because secretly we don’t believe we’re worthy?
How do you really feel about yourself?
I’ve been paying a lot more attention to my self-talk lately. When I forget something, get something wrong, say something wrong, do something wrong, even drop something accidentally – I say the most awful things to myself. Things I would never say to anyone else. I tell myself how stupid and clumsy I am. What an idiot I am. How useless and worthless I am.
This negative self-talk has always been there. A few years ago I simply accepted these judgments as true. But since I’ve been meditating on developing compassion – for others as well as myself – I see very clearly how pathological this negative self-talk is. It reflects a deep seated belief that I’m not good enough. Is this why I’m a workaholic? Is this why it’s only after I finish everything on my unreasonably long to-do list that I allow myself to rest? Is it why I feel guilty when I’m happy? Why I have to force myself to do things I enjoy instead of everything else I “should” be doing?
Perhaps there are scientific studies out there supporting the theory that negative feelings about other people reflect negative feelings about ourselves. I’ll look into it. But for now, I guess I’m just wondering what you think. Do you think people are gross? And if you do, how do you really feel about yourself?
If you have the same deep seated belief that you’re not good enough, try incorporating Metta or Loving Kindness Meditation into your daily routine. It only takes about 15 minutes a day. Just try it for a few weeks and let me know if you observe a difference in how you feel about people – and about yourself. There are plenty of guided meditations online to help you get the gist of this simple practice. Here’s one.
And in the mean time: May you be safe, may you be happy, may you be healthy, and may your life be filled with contentment. ♥
P.S. You’re not gross.