Episode 161 | The Most Important Boundary You’ll Ever Set

In this episode, Dr. Cari Wise discusses the importance of setting boundaries, particularly with oneself. This boundary pertains to where one allows their focus to rest when they are not at work. 

Dr. Wise explains that many veterinary professionals tend to obsessively think about cases and events from work, which can lead to negative emotions and anxiety. 

She shares that it is crucial to set a mental boundary to prevent one’s focus from dwelling on things that cannot be controlled in the present moment. 

Two main issues that arise when one fails to set this boundary:

First, they continue to experience negative emotions associated with the events of the day. Second, they lack awareness that they cannot change or control these situations in the present moment. 

Dr. Wise emphasizes the importance of controlling one’s focus and redirecting it to something real and useful when the mind starts to wander into worry and obsession. She explains that worry stems from an inability to let go of situations and fear of the unknown and reminds listeners that veterinary professionals never control case outcomes or client behavior.

By redirecting focus to the present moment and avoiding worry, veterinary professionals can improve their wellbeing and enjoy their lives outside of work.

Resource: Vet Life Academy




Website: https://joyfuldvm.com



Music Credit: Music by Lesfm from Pixabay


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This transcript is auto-generated and may contain typos.

Hi there. I’m Dr. Cari Wise, veterinarian, certified life coach and certified quantum human design specialist. If you are a veterinary professional looking to uplevel your life and your career or maybe looking to go in an entirely new direction, then what I talk about here on the joyful DVM podcast is absolutely for you. Let’s get started. Hello my friends. Welcome back to the joyful DVM podcast.

Today we’re gonna be spending a few minutes talking about the most important boundary that you’ll ever set, and it’s probably not the one you’re thinking about most of the time. When we think about setting boundaries, we think about setting boundaries with our jobs and with our clients and even in our personal relationships. And just as a reminder, a boundary is a request for a behavior change that is communicated typically to somebody else,

and then a consequence of what you will do as the boundary setter. If that boundary is, if that behavior continues in the future. So for example, with a traditional boundary, we might say, please do not yell when you are talking to me. So that’s the boundary, that’s the request for behavior change. Please do not yell when you’re talking to me.

If you continue to yell when you’re talking to me, I’m gonna end the conversation and walk away. So that would be the consequence. If they yell, then you’ve told them in advance that you will end the conversation and that you will walk away. Notice the consequence is what you are going to do if their behavior continues. This isn’t a threat. We don’t ever wanna do this when we’re feeling angry.

And the reason that we set a boundary is not because we wanna manipulate somebody into behaving differently. We definitely don’t have the power to make them do anything at all. It’s simply a request. But the most important reason that we set a boundary is because of the consequence. We decide in advance what we are going to do if that behavior continues. So if you end up in a conversation with a person where you’ve set that boundary that I just described and they begin yelling,

you just simply end the conversation and walk away. You don’t have to be angry that they continued to yell. You’ve already decided in advance what you are going to do. So as long as you follow through with your consequence, which means you end the conversation and walk away using our example, then that boundary has not been violated. The boundary doesn’t get violated when the person yells the next time that you’re talking to them.

And that’s where most of us mess up boundaries because we think that once we set this boundary, if somebody then goes ahead and behaves in the way that we’ve asked that they not behave that the boundary’s getting violated, but that’s not the truth at all. The boundaries violated if we don’t follow through with what we said we are going to do. So lemme give you another example.

If we’re talking about with clients, perhaps we have a boundary that we will not answer pet related medical questions via social media. And so somebody reaches out to you via social media with a pet related medical question, and we set the boundary. You know, thank you for trusting me with your pet’s wellbeing. I do not answer pet related medical questions online.

So if you have a pet related medical question, please contact me at the clinic when I am work during, at work, during office hours, if you ask me pet re related medical questions here online, I will not respond to those messages. And that’s it. So you just send a reply like that back and then that’s done. So then the next time when they come around and they ask you a pet related medical question online,

many of us would just jump to feeling friended and feeling angry. But that’s a complete use of our emotional energy because that boundary isn’t getting violated because the person you already told not to ask you questions online is asking you questions online. The boundary gets violated if you answer them because you’ve already communicated. Remember in the boundary, Hey, heads up. I don’t answer pet related medical questions online.

If you ask me pet related medical questions online, I will not respond. So here comes the question. Now you have to just instill your consequence, which is, I’m not going to respond to this. You just go on about your day. You do not en engage in it in any way, shape, or form. Now, where some of us get in trouble with this particular boundary,

and I am getting on a bit of a side tangent here, but this one I think is important to remind y’all, is that if we set this kind of boundary with the way that we are gonna interact with people online, if a easy question comes in like it’s the third of the month that I forgot to give my heartworm prevention on the first of the month,

should I give it? And we answer that question when we’ve already set a boundary and a standard for ourselves that we aren’t set, we aren’t going to answer pet related medical questions online. We just wanna notice, especially if you have set the boundary with that exact person. If you’ve told them before, do not ask me pet related medical questions online, I’m not going to respond.

And maybe that you set that boundary because they like were asking you about a vomiting and diarrhea case that really needed some attention or something like that. But then three months later, they pop into your inbox and they ask you about missing heartworm prevention by two days and what should I do? And then your mind is like, oh, that’s an easy one.

It won’t take long. And so you answer it. What you need to notice in that moment is that now you have violated your boundary. Again, the boundary wasn’t violated because the person came back to you and asked you another medical question online after you told them that you don’t respond. The boundary is violated because this time you answered. And this is so important for us to see because we keep violating our boundaries over and over and over again,

which just makes our requests and our consequences hold no weight at all. We are teaching ourselves that we aren’t trustworthy to ourselves when we do this, that we don’t have our own back, that we won’t stand up for what is right for us. And so there’s no read reason for any drama here. We just have to make sure that we understand that when we set a boundary,

we better be willing to follow through with the consequences. Otherwise, all we’re doing is throwing out empty threats and getting mad when the people keep behaving the way that they’ve behaved. That started the whole conversation. Now, this is all traditional boundary setting and what I wanna talk about today is the most important boundary that you’re ever going to set. And it’s a little bit different because this is a boundary that you are going to set with yourself.

This boundary is around where you are going to allow your focus to rest when you are not at work. So this is for any of you who find yourselves looping on cases when you get home, playing over and over again, the events of the day, conversations with coworkers, snarky comments from clients, or even people that you work with, things that went sideways with,

with a case, maybe with a surgery or maybe things that went well. But now you’re stuck, stuck and kind of trapped in this. What if thought loop worrying about the cases that you saw today, wondering what their blood work’s gonna turn like out like tomorrow, or wondering how they’re responding and feeling anxious about all of this. This boundary of reigning in your focus is critical for your wellbeing because we have all got to learn how to set this mental boundary with ourselves where we do not allow our focus to rest on things that we cannot control in the moment.

Anytime we’re at home and we are thinking about looping, about obsessing, about what’s happening with our cases or just regurgitating over and over and over again, either externally or in our own minds about things that happen during the day, what we need to see is that there are two main things happening here. Number one, we are continuing to experience the emotion that we experienced in the moment earlier that day.

So let’s face it, we aren’t typically looping about wonderful things that happened during the day. We tend to loop about things that had us feel frustrated or embarrassed or angry or shame or guilt or judgment. And so those negative emotions, when we just keep spiraling on the thoughts about that, we keep replaying the movie of what happened in our minds over and over and over again.

We just keep stacking on more of that negative emotion. And over time, that really does create a lot of ongoing anxiety, frustration, and hopelessness. So that’s the first thing that’s happening. The second thing that’s happening is a complete lack of awareness that we can’t do anything at all about those things right now. So if we’re thinking about a case, we’re thinking about a case that we’re not really sure exactly what’s going on with it,

or maybe we are sure and we’ve provided a treatment option for the owners and of course they’ve made their decisions and we’ve moved forward with whatever it is that they’ve decided. And now we’re in worry mode about that patient. You know, what if they’re not getting better? What if they’re not responding to treatment? What if the patient, the clients aren’t actually giving the treatment?

What if they didn’t do this thing that I told ’em to do? What if they don’t come back for their recheck? What if they don’t call us tomorrow with an update? What if? What if? What if? What if? What if complete and utter waste of your time? Because the what ifs of the world aren’t happening right now? There’s nothing that you can do and no way you can think hard enough about this situation to come up with any of the answers to all those what if questions that your mind is offering you.

So this is where the boundary comes in. You need to control your focus. When your brain wants to offer you all the what ifs, you just shut it down. Say, Nope, no time for this right now. I am not going to entertain this on my days off. I am not going to entertain things that I don’t have answers to when I don’t have any ability to gain those answers in the moment.

Because it is this what if cycle, this habit of worry that robs us of enjoying our present moments. My friends, the present moment is the only thing we ever have the past we can’t do anything about. So looping on that another place that our focus lands and rests, that doesn’t do us any good, no use in that the past is done.

We can’t change it. It is what it is. The future isn’t here yet. So all the what ifs in the world, all the worrying that you do right now and the anxiety that you create through that cycle and habit of worry only robs you of your joy in the present moment. The truth is that when you’re back in your at your workplace and you have the opportunity to engage with the client,

then you’ll have new information and then you can make new decisions or communicate new info to the client. We can actually reengage in the case management itself, but outside of that context, you have zero power over what is happening with that animal. So allowing your mind to stay focused on something that you have zero power over simply takes you out of living your life in the moments that you do have in front of you.

This is a skill to be developed, and this is why I say it’s the most important boundary that you’ll ever set. And it’s a boundary within your own mind to not tolerate letting your mind rest in focus on things that you can’t do anything about. Now, some of you may have been taught to believe that if you’re not thinking about your cases or you’re not worrying about things that you don’t care,

and I just want you to know that that is not true at all. It’s conditioning. And I even remember a time hearing in one of my own family members say that if I wasn’t worrying about you, then I wasn’t caring about you. And I just think that’s complete nonsense. You know, I worry because I care. No, you worry because you can’t let go of the situation like you worry because you probably are afraid,

but you are afraid over things you can’t control. So worry doesn’t do any good. Fear is a normal part of life. We are going to experience fear. And the thing that we have to understand in veterinary medicine is that no matter how good of a job we do, case outcomes and client interactions are things we are never going to control. We are not powerful enough to fix animals.

That is not your job. The animals have to heal themselves and we can help them, right? But we will never control physiology. So we have to remember and stay in our lane and don’t let our minds pull us into a complete area and of focus that is not only unhelpful in the present moment, but also just completely false as to the level of power that we do have.

So this boundary is just catching yourself in that moment and redirecting. So again, if we think about a traditional boundary where we have a request for behavior and we have a consequence, then how do we set up that kind of structure within a personal boundary? Well, the first part is the behavior request. So that request is going to be that I’m no longer going to focus on things that I can’t control.

Maybe it is. I am no longer gonna spend any time outside of work thinking about cases. It could be that simple. I am not gonna think about cases when I’m not at work. Now, I know for some of you it probably makes you like the putting your stomach drop a little bit because you’re in such a habit of doing it. And for my friends,

I was too for years and years and years. But as I really started to understand that no amount of worry outside of work hours was gonna make any impact at all on my cases, I really started to play with letting it go. And that’s really what I want you to get out of this episode is this opportunity to let it go when you’re not in a place to be engaged with it.

So if you set that boundary with yourself, I’m not gonna think about cases when I’m not at work. That’s the behavior request. Now what’s the consequence? If I do start thinking about cases, I am going to swiftly shift my focus to something real and something useful. That’s the consequence. I’m going to swiftly shift my focus to something real and something useful.

So something real, anything that’s going on in front of me, right? Anything that’s happening right now and something useful, I’m not gonna just shift into another level of worry because once again, the things we worry about have not happened. They are in the future. And the last thing that any of us wanna do is energetically create a situation where the things that we don’t want come to us because we have energetically aligned to them through our worry.

Somebody once said, worry is a prayer for what we don’t want. We cannot underestimate my friends. The power of the energy that we create within ourselves. Our level of wellbeing is another way. You’ve heard me talk about it. Our net emotional state is another way we talk about it. And the bottom line is, energetically we attract what we are experiencing.

So if we wanna experience something differently, we have to shift our net emotional state upward. And one of the greatest ways we can do that is stop letting our mind rest in these what if scenarios that do nothing but create negative emotional energy and pull us down. So just set that boundary with yourself, the most important boundary that you’ll ever set, which is to not allow your focus to rest somewhere that does not serve you,

that does not enhance your wellbeing. This is going to be the worry. This is going to be any of the thoughts that loop about anxiety. And you’re gonna notice how much none of these things are actually things you control. They’re all dependent on things that are outside of your current ability to control and even your ability to influence in that given moment. It usually requires more data.

It usually requires information or action from other people. There’s no point in spending any time letting your focus rest there. So as you start to catch when your focus is resting there and you’re starting to feel overwhelmed or stressed or anxious, and you just completely lose sight of what’s in front of you because you’re in the what if world, that’s what I want you just to notice it and then swiftly shift it,

swiftly shift it back to something that’s happening right now. So what’s going on in front of you? Maybe that means you go and you look out the window and you see what everything that you can see there. Maybe you close your eyes and you listen and you hear all the different sounds, and you start to make a list of everything that you can hear in the present moment.

Maybe that means that you take a nice deep breath and you say, okay, what am I gonna spend my time with right now? And you jump into doing something else. So maybe it is participating in some kind of hobby. Maybe it is doing your laundry, cleaning up your kitchen. Maybe something that’s not necessarily the most fun thing in the world,

but I guarantee you, even the most mundane chores feel way better than sitting in a space where your mind is allowed to loop and loop and loop in the what if world, which is just going to bring you down and keep you from actually engaging in anything in real time. So my friends, as you get ready to go through the next week, I hope you’ll consider trying to set this boundary within yourself to just not allow yourself to sit and focus in areas that you don’t have any control over,

and that pull you into the what ifs of this world. The what ifs will always keep you from living in the present moment. It will keep you from experiencing joy and happiness in this moment right now. And this moment right now is the only moment we have. And as you learn how to quickly shift your focus away from the what ifs and drop back into the present,

you are going to be surprised how that one simple skill that you develop, that one boundary that you continue to maintain has a massive impact on elevating your wellbeing, not only in relation to your job, but every other aspect of your life. All right, my friends, if you like this episode, please share it with a friend and I’ll see you next time.

Bye for now.