June 17, 2015

Overcoming Stress

When I was seven years old, I found an injured garter snake and cared for him until he healed. From then on, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I worked hard and spent years in school preparing. When I finally opened my own veterinary clinic, it was like a dream come true. I saw myself as another James Herriott, curing the animals and receiving the appreciation of my thankful clients.

But reality was quite different. Sometimes the animals didn’t get well. Some died. Then their owners often got upset. Some people even refused to pay their bills. Although I’d achieved my lifelong dream, I was becoming more and more stressed out. I was so tense and unhappy, that I developed a painful stomach condition which was, according to my doctor, stress-related. At age 31, I was well on my way to an ulcer! My dream had become a nightmare and I could barely drag myself into work.

Then a friend suggested that I attend an Introductory Weekend at The Option Institute. In those three days, I derived learnings and benefits which helped me change my entire life! During the program we investigated the underlying beliefs causing our discomfort in a variety of circumstances. For me, the insights were both fascinating and helpful.

For instance, I realized that I’d been operating from a very irrational belief–that if I did my job well enough, the animal would recover. As a result I’d been secretly blaming myself each time an animal died and holding myself responsible for the pain the owners felt. When I let go of this unreasonable responsibility, I felt that a huge burden had been lifted from me. What’s more, I discovered that I could remain comfortable with myself even when my clients were critical or upset with me.

As the result of these changes my clinic has flourished. Not only am I successful in my career, but I also love it! I look forward to each new day. My stomach problems disappeared and I hardly ever get sick.

Just last week I had to tell a woman that her beloved cat was suffering from leukemia. This lady became very upset and even seemed to be angry with me. Before my experience at The Option Institute, I’d have felt defensive and tense. It would have been difficult to even remain in the same room with her. But now my reactions were completely different. I no longer took this lady’s anger personally. Instead I was able to remain open and undefensive and to listen. Soon she apologized for her outburst and then explained that her daughter had died of leukemia. We talked for a while and, when she left, she thanked me for helping her become more comfortable with a difficult situation. What would have been a very stressful situation for me had been transformed into an opportunity to extend compassion and caring, thanks to all I learned at The Option Institute.

Chuck B., Veterinarian, Virginia

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