I stood on the edge of a fort in the middle of the Solent recently and took in the sea and the sky around me. It changed as I watched it and being able to see the weather approaching from a distance made me realise how little control we have over some things in life. Coming across from the direction of the Isle of Wight, the sky was darkening and you could see the wind increasing.
If I had been staying on the fort overnight I would have been excited by the oncoming weather. I find rain, wind and stormy conditions thrilling if I am in a safe place. As I was shortly to get on a fairly little, fairly open boat and cross back to Portsmouth I was less enamoured by the developing sky.
Sometimes our whole lives can feel as if we have little control. The world seems to keep throwing at us and we wonder how we will ever regain control. This is, of course, a very horrible place to be. Even with fantastic support and guidance it is only yourself who can ultimately change the way you feel.
And in my view the way you feel is the crux to sorting it out. The tendency is to blame everything around you for the lack of control. We need to have faith that there is a way out, it might not be obvious, it may take some time, it may be actions you haven’t thought of yet but it is possible to create change.
All of our lives, every hour of every day, we make choices. Depending on our strengths, how we are feeling and the influences around us, we all could choose differently for even some of the simplest decisions. In many routine choices, and I would include in this for experienced clinicians many clinical decisions, we make the choice subconsciously. Very often when things seem to be out of control we fall back to living ‘safely’ in a world of these subconscious decisions and switching off from all the other ‘stuff’ spinning crazily around us.
This will help you survive for a while, maybe giving your brain enough time to regroup, but it won’t solve anything. It can seem like everyone else is making choices for us but personally, I think when we realise that we can make our own choices our whole position and fulcrum of thinking shifts.
Realising we can make or alter our choices can be hugely empowering. It may be that actually all we have to do is stop doing something, action is not required.
I so often hear of dentists who feel like they cannot alter what is going on in their practice, either due to staff, patients, money or a combination. It can be given as a reason for lack of compliance and poor record keeping amongst other things. If we don’t make positive choices in some areas of our lives, it is mainly ourselves that suffer. If we don’t make positive choices in our professional lives we risk falling foul of the regulator and other regulatory bodies as well as possibly risking patient care.
Personally I feel that accepting we are responsible for our choices is liberating. However for many, it can also be scary. There is then no one to blame but yourself, and if your fall back is blame, that is a hard thing to accept. I have seen many dentists fight it, for a long time, to the detriment of many around them. Blame only leads to bitterness and upset for all involved.
Liberation, on the other hand, can also be hard. Some of your choices may not be as good as they could be, but at the core of you, you will have the satisfaction that you have made those choices, they were not forced on you and you can learn from the experience.
That being said, maybe there are some things we can’t control, like the weather. Yet we can control how we react to it, what we chose to do and to a certain extent our acceptance of it.
We were on the fort for a team day and the leaving time was fixed, but we made the choice to sit in the open air on the return boat to aid those who found the rolling sea made them feel a little queasy and chose to keep ourselves distracted with laughter and comradery.
Always remember you can chose your own path, don’t blame others, we only get one shot at this life thing, so aim to make it a good one!
About the Author:
Catherine Rutland works as Head of Professional Services at Simplyhealth Professionals, and writes a regular column for The Dentist.