Yesterday was a humbling lesson in how much I have to learn in getting a grasp on my mind when challenged or tested. So, an incident happened at work where I had forgotten an essential instrument set for a surgical case. It was one of those situations where you can really piss off a surgeon for delaying a case or possibly cancelling a case last minute. As soon as I realized the situation, I went into panic mode. My heart rate clearly increased and I began breathing heavily and pacing. It felt like there was a giant weight on my chest and my nerves seemed to be surging and screaming.
As I was preparing the case and awaiting the surgical team, I just imagined being yelled at by the surgeon. It’s like my mind regressed to the programming of when I was a child, being terrified and shaking that I was going to get ridiculed and punished. I kept going over the scenario of being ridiculed in my head, and each time the details only reinforced my anxiety. I was thinking a thousand thoughts a minute it seemed. It was miserable in that state. It felt like the ship of my life was sinking and I was slowly drowning under the weight of my own panic. The walls were closing in. The pressure was mounting.
And then, fortunately, everything was okay. An extra set of instruments had been found last minute and the case was only minimally delayed. Luckily this particular surgeon was kind and understanding and the case proceeded as normal. It didn’t stop there though, my mind was not finished. While the initial intensity of my panic subsided, there was a lingering anxiety I felt in my body for several hours afterwards. My body and my mind felt like it was slowly and ineffectively recovering from a trauma and subsequently I was uncomfortable for the rest of the day. Even when I went home, I had a hard time relaxing and winding down.
It was a nagging anxiety, the kind that seems to linger even though there is no external force triggering it. It felt like I had reached a threshold and gone beyond to a point of no return. It’s like I couldn’t calm down, the air was static and my nerves were electric. It bewildered me, I thought how strange that I physically, mentally, and emotionally reacted as if I had gotten yelled at and reprimanded. Then it came to me, I had gotten yelled at, I had been insulted and berated. The thing is, it was in my own head. It was internal. I was the perpetrator. I had done this to myself.
As this epiphany washed over me, I recalled the event from earlier that day. When I had realized what I had forgotten and gone into a bodily panic, my mind was busy as well. “How could you let this happen?” “How can you be so stupid to miss an obvious thing like that?” “You’re letting everyone down!” These are the thoughts that plagued me in my haze of panic and delirium. No wonder I felt so awful. Not only had I made up false scenarios in my head of getting scolded by someone else, it was almost like I was preemptively doing it to myself with my own thoughts.
I hurt myself. I was not kind to myself. I had gone through a complete anxiety attack from the internal battle I was waging in my mind. Sure, the pressure of not having something ready at work and possibly getting in trouble is one thing, but the way I handled it completely exacerbated the whole situation to the point of panic and lingering misery that set the stage for the rest of my day and night. As I went over this in my head that night, it really conveyed to me how powerful our minds are. Here I had fabricated a complete emotional ocean of frantic experience from nothing more than my thoughts.
This really shows how far I have to go in understanding my mental programming and how much I am still entrenched in self-ridicule when put in certain pressured situations. There is a lot still to untangle and overcome. Some days are easy and you think you have it figured out but other days are surely a test in humility. I have made progress in loving myself and being mindful and I have had victories in overcoming my anxiety and painting my world in a better light, but there is still much to learn. I choose to take this as a moment of clarity, as a learning experience. I want to use it to add to my understanding of my own mind.
After thinking about all of this that night, I then began to replay the scenario in my head again. This time, I imagined my attitude being totally different. I imagined that while I had made a mistake, I still recognized that I am human and this is just a natural state of being human. We make mistakes. It’s okay. I imagined having a totally different attitude. I was forgiving and understanding towards myself and my mistake. I proceeded with a calm rationality and an understanding that anyone yelling at me would just be a product of their own internal state. We make mistakes. We get frustrated and impatient sometimes. Again, we are all human and we still hold value and are worthy of love and respect regardless.
This newly imagined scenario had a completely different outcome. I calmly and with a loving and understanding heart proceeded as normal and took action to correct the error, no harsh words were spoken, the case went on, no panic transpired. I was shocked and elated at how easy the whole situation could have been had I approached it this way. There is still quite a bit of programming in my mind from my childhood. I revert back to a scared child sometimes in certain circumstances. I still have mounds of mental digging to do in understanding the specifics of where this programming originated.
I look at this as a new level in understanding my mind. Mistakes can certainly be uncomfortable but they can be powerful learning opportunities if we treat them as fuel for our growth rather than causes for our perceived depreciation. It was a frantic situation that left me exhausted but a stark example of how my mind can completely transform my world. It’s a reminder of how we can generate layers of emotions from nothing but the internal churning of our thoughts and subconscious programming.
The mind, that is really all that it is. We are in charge. The mind sets the stage for everything else. The world is really just a reflection of our own emotions and programming back at us. The world is neutral. We personally install the color and emotions into it. Attempting to tame the animal that is our minds is an ongoing process and I hope this story can shed light into your own life as much as it did mine. Imagining the new scenario where I was calm and loving is a great starting point in creating my future and reprogramming my subconscious mind. Just feeling the experience in that way opened my eyes to the possibility of living my life in love rather than fear. I want to identify and harness these feelings and slowly and habitually make them a part of my reality.
Mistakes do not define us but they can certainly help build us. We are human, both perfect and beautifully flawed, and most deserving of love. We are in possession of the most powerful weapon I can imagine, the mind. The mind can create and transform worlds. It can create experiences and trigger complex emotional reactions out of thin air. We are the painters of our world. Part of my own personal growth is waking up to this news and truly wielding this power.
This journey is a process of both learning and unlearning, installing programs and deleting programs. I am still waking up to the reality of what I am and I will take all obstacles in my way as lessons towards enlightenment and a more nurturing, fulfilled existence. This experience is a reminder in choosing love over fear, identifying and erasing old programming, and the power of our minds. I have lived most of my life in fear but I am slowly awakening to the possibilities that blossom through love. I want to feel love, I want to see love, I want to spread love, everywhere. That is my focus going forward, as I step into a better future. The journey continues…<3