Thursday, February 20, 2014

Seeking Good Council

Working as I do today in a hospital emergency department (ED) and assisting in patient registration you meet individuals presenting with all sorts of complaints/symptoms. Chief among them is being in pain and as a result experiencing suffering.

What I have found, is that there are essentially three categories that ED patients generally fit into: 1) those who think that they have a pretty good idea of what the cause of their problem is but have no idea of what it will take to resolve it, 2) those who have absolutely no idea what the problem is but have already convinced themselves, and are working hard at convincing the triage nurse or ED doctor, that they know exactly what it will take to alleviate their condition if the physician will only give them precisely what they want, and 3) patients who will honestly admit to not knowing what is happening to them or why they are in so much misery, and who also have no idea what is needed to effectively resolve their dilemma. This last group of patients are the ones that I tend to empathize with the most because we’ve all been in their shoes and we know that it is quite a disconcerting place to be.

Unfortunately, this last group of individuals are often most at risk of being ignored, misdiagnosed or re-admitted to the hospital within days for the very same conditions. Why is that you might ask and you should.

Quite often, these patients unwittingly think that the so called "experts" are the ones who will have all of the answers. When in fact, they don't.

While the vast majority of medical doctors and skilled nurses are very competent professionals who know their body of knowledge and remain current with mountains of ever changing empirical data they do not-- know you like you do--or like you really must come to know yourself.

Please don't misunderstand me, I am certainly not implying that we should ignore, overlook or otherwise reject their good medical council or that of other subject matter experts.

Nevertheless, our lives are not meant to be lived like silent backseat passengers who have handed over an all important sense of control over our wellness or our lives to others. When we receive advice from others we ought to consider asking ourselves a very important question: who is going to benefit the most from the advise that's being given. If the answer is not you then I offer you a word of caution, run!

That's right, get going and put some real distance between you and the individuals who are attempting to provide services that are more likely to benefit them and not you the patient, client or student.

As a matter of fact, I especially like what James Hollis, PhD. has to say in a related sense about addressing the delicate needs of ourselves and others.

"Most of us would further agree that it matters that we bring no harm, or at least no worse harm, to others. This noble desire asks that we become progressively aware of, explore, [and] take responsibility for our personal shadow. The shadow includes those parts of ourselves, whether it be our capacity for evil; our insurgent, narcissistic agendas; or our most spontaneous, healing, instinctively grounded selves."

Like my good friend Gerald Porter,Vice President of Academic Affairs at The School of Professional Psychology at Forest Institute recently shared with me, "this just about sums it up"...

"Every day, think as you wake up, "Today I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive, I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry, or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can."~ His Holiness The Dalai Lama

In otherwords, what I am advocating is that you seek to fill the open full time position of being your own best counselor on what you need to do in your life on a daily basis and then practice that as though it matters. Because truthfully, it does!

Here is another tool that I created for attempting to positively optimize your potential and your performance:

A Model for Living An Examined Life

The following reflects my broad-based adaptive framework for the personal practice of balanced living across the lifespan regardless of age, belief, faith, gender, disability, ethnicity, race, religion, no religion, or sexual orientation.

Self-regulation processes:
  • Goal-setting (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time targeted (S.M.A.R.T.) objectives)
  • Self-observation (self-instruction, imagery and attention focusing, task strategies)
  • Self-evaluation (self-questioning, causal attributions, and adaptive inferences)
Task strategies:
  • Study (graphic organizers, index cards, tables, and attending extra help)
  • Time-management (planning, allocating, setting goals, delegation, analysis of time spent, monitoring, organizing, scheduling, and prioritizing)
  • Organizational strategies (cognitive modeling, cognitive coaching, and guided practice)
Self-motivational beliefs:
  • Self-efficacy (choice of activities, effort, and persistence)
  • Intrinsic interest (active, curious, engaged)
  • Desire to be effective (competence, mastery, and self-monitoring)
Academic behaviors and beliefs:
  • Forethought  (attitudes, beliefs, and processes)
  • Performance control (mindful, confident, and proactive)
  • Self-reflection (self-judgments and self-reactions)
 Reasons for living:
  • Meaning (psychological, social, and cultural)
  • Identity (moral, ethical, and spiritual)
  • Spirituality (belief, faith, and religion)
Leading with heart and soul:
  • Institutional change (environmentally responsible, innovative, and sustainability-driven)
  • Social change (democratic, culturally diverse, and egalitarian)
  • Personal transformation (authentic, genuine, and nurturing)
Wisdom leadership
  • Keen discernment (grasp, comprehend, and evaluate clearly)
  • Deep understanding (concept, context, and pragmatics)
  • Sound judgment (a basis for decision making, a call to action, and creative)