This blog is for Pet Parents and Veterinarians alike. Today's blog post is about where we find support and how we can effectively provide it for each other. This blog is about how to be effective in life. It is about how we can become effective Change-Makers, no matter our individual personal ambitions: healing a pet, supporting a friend, finding fulfillment in a profession, evolving the face of medicine, defending the current state of medicine, or changing the world.
So, if you are interested in empowering yourself to be a positive force in your own life, this is for you.
HOW DO WE IDENTIFY EFFECTIVE SUPPORT?
In this socioeconomic climate of polarization, the above quote is an important reminder.
As we are working to contribute in a positive way to the world and do the best in our lives and professions for those we love, it is important to remember that who we surround ourselves with and allow ourselves to be influenced by are pivotal decisions that can shape our growth and our effectiveness.
I've had/have some great mentors. I have also had mentors who were still learning what it means to be an effective mentor. All these experiences shaped me. Some in positive ways that continue to support my ongoing journey of personal growth and professional development. Some in very difficult ways that were important learning experiences.
Discernment, free of judgement, is a vital strength in understanding what is effective and what is not effective.
The great mentors, great Change-Makers, great colleagues and great friends, they are the ones that help us shape ourselves. They help us grow into our full potential. They help us become more than we are now and sometimes more than they are. A great mentor/colleague always wants to see their mentee/colleague exceed them. Great people like that, we can ALL be.
Great mentors, good colleagues, and effective Change-Makers strive, fueled by the enlightened inner fire of compassion and service to the world, to bring all they can to the table in order to help others bring all they can to the table.
That, my friends - that kind of human interaction, that kind of humility, that kind of inner strength, that kind of true wisdom, that kind of desire to support each other - that brings lasting and positive change to the world. That is how we effectively support each other and become effective champions for what we believe in.
Inner strength, solid moral character and the motivation to help others are defining characteristics of excellent mentors and effective Change-Makers.
It is this type of person that will be an effective role model and source of healthy support for you.
Likewise, we always have the power to choose to be better for each other and make a positive contribution to this complex and often bitter-sweet existence in which we find ourselves.
Increasingly, I see severe anxiety accompanying and eclipsing the emotions of sadness, hopelessness, fear and grief that used to be the norm for Pet Parents after a diagnosis of cancer in a beloved pet. And you don't have to look hard to read alarming reports of increasing suicide rates in the veterinary profession.
More often than I would like to see, I encounter loving Pet Parents who express they feel unsupported or criticized in their decision to treat their pet who has been diagnosed with cancer. Setting the realities of financial reasons aside, these criticisms or judgmental attitudes can often center around lack of alignment in the value placed on a pet's life. They may originate from personal opinions or previous experiences with conventional treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation. Or they may result from personal opinions on the validity of treatment approaches like herbal medicine, for or against.
I also have observed public lack of support or overt criticism among veterinary colleagues who hold differing opinions on what constitutes good quality, compassionate medicine. This phenomenon is becoming more pronounced as the field of medicine on the human side is also widening to include more focus on preventive medicine, functional medicine and treatments outside the categories of pharmaceutical drugs.
This open criticism of other ways of thinking is not confined to the medical profession. And it is an important reflection of the apparently increasing polarization which is occurring, and being encouraged, in our socioeconomic environment and the widespread acceptance of this way of behaving toward others.
Regardless of the details, this divisive and damaging dynamic is more often than not a result of a lack of effort or ability to understand and support one another.
So many of our actions are motivated, often unconsciously, by a desire to prove our own point of view valid and defend the limits of our own beliefs. These ways of behaving, whether we are comfortable admitting it or not, arise not from valid truths but from personal deep-seated fears and the struggle to protect ourselves from something that feels threatening.
To engage with each other amidst these kinds of responses calls for compassion and understanding, and it takes strength of character and a strong moral compass. It takes Compassion for the suffering of others. It takes Compassion for our own suffering as well.
There is quite enough suffering in the world already. Wouldn't it be amazing if we humans could find a way to respect and support each other while honoring the beauty of the diverse experiences, passions, and opinions we all hold? The good news is, we can! This is well within our power.
In large part, much of the divisive behaviors we observe and experience could be remedied if greater efforts were made to simply understand each other and support each other. These efforts would have results reaching far wider than helping an individual pet or an individual person.
Developing the capacity to consider, objectively, other points of view and to interact with compassion and sensitivity while supporting each other in our individual goals would result in happier communities. Considering other ways to approach challenges is also the way that new solutions to difficult problems, like the abysmal cure rate for many types of cancer, are made. With that mindset, one can discern, learn and integrate that which is in alignment with one's own best judgement while accepting that others may hold differing views.
I feel fortunate to be able to say that, among my Veterinary Oncology colleagues, there is, generally speaking, a high level of professionalism and respectful behavior toward and among one another even if personal opinions and approaches differ. This, I believe, reflects the high caliber of education as well as the general strong moral character of this group of highly intelligent and motivated professionals who have chosen to devote their lives to a field of medicine which exposes them daily to intense emotions and human suffering juxtaposed with the immense capacity humans have to express love and compassion for something outside themselves. This brings a certain kind of perspective about life, I think, and about what is truly important.
BECOMING AN EFFECTIVE CHANGE-MAKER
Whether your passions and motivations stem from the desire to heal a pet, support a friend, find fulfillment in a profession, evolve the face of medicine, defend the current state of medicine, or change the world, we all, at some level, want to make a positive difference in this world or at least in our own lives.
Understanding how to be an effective Change-Maker is vital to our successful realization of that desire.
Effective change is not achieved by working to destroy, diminish or belittle that which opposes what we believe in...that is the coward's path. That is a path born of personal fears and traumas.
The path of an effective Change-Maker, a powerful force for positive change, is a path of courage. It is a path defined by a clear understanding of ourselves and our own Path in the world.
If we want more goodness in the world, if we want more genuine truth in the world, if we want to create a human experience that is saturated with accurate understanding, we must understand the foundations of those things. The foundations of Goodness are kindness, understanding, compassion. Period. These must, by necessity and the truth of what is effective, be the driving forces behind any action we take to create lasting positive change in the world.
Effective implementation of a higher vision - whether that vision be in our small circle of family, in the wider circle of our profession or the broader circle of the world - is motivated by the desire to support and serve that vision rather than to compete against and diminish others.
An effective strategy must find the common ground and work to bring people together, to nurture compassion and understanding for those who think and act in opposition to these foundations. This creates Unification rather than Polarization. For it is only then that the actions we take toward creating something better have weight and power to take root, motivated by a will steeped in the desire to uplift and to help ourselves find a more effective way of being on this planet together and to improving our current experience.
This is the path of the enlightened Leader. This takes a strong person, who has done their own inner work in order to act beyond their personal issues, toxic emotions and accumulated traumas. This is the path of coming into our true power and reaching the pinnacle of our full potential with each other.
That is how we encourage the truth, no matter the truth we believe in, to flourish and gain strength...by supporting what we believe in and nurturing those who carry the potential to energize that truth in the world. That gives the truth strength.
So, find effective role models, excellent mentors and good people.
Surround yourself with them.
Become one of them.
Do your work.
And do Good.
In support of enlightened action and our efforts toward it,