4 Steps to a Better You

“We can always choose to perceive things differently. You can focus on what’s wrong in your life or you can focus on what’s right” – Marianne Williamson (and that can make all the difference!)

I have done all the things I am about to share. I believe many of these unhealthy habits led to my getting sick. Can you relate to any of them? 

Overcoming addiction
1.I have an addiction to TV (especially when I’m stressed). I can watch for hours and tune everything else out. (Interestingly the average American watches 5 hours of TV a day, so I guess I’m not alone). The problem was that I was not getting my work done. Heading to bed late and waking up early only made me more tired and frustrated (leading me to watch more episodes of Friends or the latest Netflix series).

My feelings of guilt over not writing my book (on the benefits of laughter) because I was too busy engrossed in a TV show, did not help.

What I did to overcome this
Changed my vocabulary from “I have to” (go to work) to “I get to” serve my patients.

I hired an editor and business coach (and now have accountability, which I desperately needed). It is pleasurable to write now that I scheduled time primarily in the morning when I am most productive. In the evenings, I take a break (which I did anyway, but now I do not feel guilty about it), setting healthy boundaries- watching one show- instead of several.  I am proud to say I am able to turn the TV off all by myself (a difficult feat, I use to ask my husband to do) because I know I can watch another show tomorrow. I don’t overthink, and just do it. Visualizing myself turning it off (and saying it aloud) helped. “I’m turning it off and you don’t control me!”

I have also thought of other things that I can do in the evenings besides watching TV. i.e. stretching listening to music, dancing or taking a yoga class or reading.  My focus is what I CAN do, instead of what I can’t!

I also don’t over analyze things as much, and make decisions more quickly. I choose things based on whether it’s the right thing to do.  Will this serve my patients and help them stay healthy or get there?  I realize I can’t help anyone else, if I don’t take care of my own health! I also know I am not alone, and I don't have to do it all myself.  There is a greater power looking over me. 

(8/13/18 Give yourself credit. Last night I did not watch TV and had a wonderful time just lounging with my husband and giving him a massage and then cuddling as we fell asleep J)
My new words are "I will do the best I can do, be the best I can be, and love myself. I matter, I have a purpose and I am enough."

Letting go of Judgement
2. Generalizing, blaming others, and being judge mental, (that was me). I made myself the victim! Stupid drivers, or why can't she ever get it right to our waitress (when this was the first time I met her)? What's wrong with you (to my husband)? I realize now that these behaviors were a reflection of myself. People are not stupid or idiots, and if they are, you are included! Seriously, haven't we all done dumb things? It's at least likely, and if that's the case, someone else may have been there. 

What I did to overcome this
Ask myself a series of questions. Does this really happen every time? Is what I am saying TRUE? Also, have I ever done anything like this? What do I have to believe to feel this way, if I am upset? What I have come to realize is that people are not out to get me.  To explain traffic, there could have been an accident, or the man who cut me off could have just found out that his son was in the hospital.

Whether these stories are true or not, they will help you adapt to the situation, rather than getting frustrated.

Then I work on letting the situation go, through thinking of what is good. Thank G-d I did not get hurt. If I am stuck in traffic, I tell myself, now I can rock it out (sing aloud to my favorite tunes), or begin laughing, or have an intimate conversation with my best friend. I have a top 10 list of positive things I can do. What’s on your list? You can keep it on your phone (of course don’t look at it while you’re driving).

My new words are “sometimes hiccups occur, but not all the time. I don't take it personally, because most of the time it's not about me. If something happens that doesn't make sense, it's probably because I don't know the whole story.  There is usually a reasonable explanation for any behavior. In addition, as human beings, we are not perfect and that's okay. We can make mistakes and learn from them." 

Letting go of things beyond your control
3. Getting upset and blaming myself (or others) over things I (or they) couldn’t control, such as the computer malfunctioning or the weather “misbehaving,” or not being able to save a human life. When my computer went on the blink, I would actually want to throw it out the window (luckily I never did because that machine is expensive). Instead, I hit the buttons hard, which only ended up hurting my fingers. I also used to curse the sky when it rained, (which is quite often in Florida), like that would do anything to fix the problem. I got so angry, to the point I hurt people I cared about (and who cared about me). These people definitely did not deserve it (like my poor husbandL).  I blamed myself for people who got sick and died, because I could not fix them.

What I did to overcome this
Understanding when I get upset, I let the situation control me, Think about it, is the computer or rain deliberately out to get me. Of course not. This does not mean I can never have this emotion, but I recognize it is a choice to be upset (own the emotion), and then I can practice, letting it go. It is normal to feel sad when someone is sick or dies. Death and illness are part of life.  However, I remember I do not have to be so upset that I cannot let happiness in. 

I used to blame myself for my mom’s death. Could I have done more to save her from a ruptured brain aneurysm? Probably not (I was only 13). My new words are "my mom completed her life and now I can take her with me where ever I go. We shared incredible memories and no one can take that away. I also share 50% of her DNA. She is part of me and I am part of her. Now she gets to travel with me wherever I go.

I also have apologized to those I hurt and began forgiving myself.

As for my computer, I named it Isabella. Personifying it has made me laugh, when I think of her taking a “break”, and tell my patient's she is resting and getting her hair done! As for the weather, I now dance in the puddles and sing in the rain. I love looking for rainbows. 

Gaining confidence
4. I did not believe in myself (and that I deserved greatness). To the naked eye, I am accomplished. I am a physician and own my own integrative medical practice (Dr. Gold’s Optimal Living Institute). For now, the bank owns my home, but I get to live in it (or I should say my kitties). I have a car and a wonderful family, but my self-defeating behaviors were affecting me moving forward. 

I told myself I was stupid or an idiot, if I did not know something I thought "I should have known in medicine, or from school, or pop culture, or an idiot, if I made a mistake that I thought "no one should make."  I do not know most band names, and on an African Safari, I walked in flip-flops, and got a thorn stuck in my toe.

What I did to overcome this
I am human and even intelligent people, do not know everything, and do make mistakes. If I do not know something, I now have an opportunity to learn about it. I am no longer embarrassed and ask for an education. I learn daily from everyone. 

My new words are "I am human and will never know everything, but I love learning. I will make mistakes and these will be opportunities for growth."

My road to recovery stemmed from re framing these difficult situations. Changing my perspective changed my life.  We all have values. What are yours and are they serving you? If you are miserable, stressed out, anxious or sad, you know the answer. So far, I have not had a patient whose ultimate goal is to feel lousy. Let us instead choose to live optimally (by managing our state). 

Right vs Happy
So is it more important for you to be right or happy? I use to feel I had to be right and that caused be more pain.  Now I let that go, and ask myself what are the results I am seeking? Is the behavior I am engaging in going to get me there? Remember life is short, and a wise woman once told me to pick your battles. 

Please share your story or some antidotes. I appreciate your feedback! J



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