Episode 182 | Time Off, Demons & Personal Alignment Clues

In this episode, Dr. Cari Wise shares about the challenge she encountered when faced with unexpected time off from clinical practice. She explains how busyness can be a buffer and coping mechanism, keeping us from experiencing uncomfortable emotions and personal truths; and shared her own experience with this phenomena. 

Dr. Wise reminds us that even uncomfortable emotion has purpose and leaves clues, especially in relation to our life purpose and personal alignment. 

She encourages listeners to pay attention to how they are behaving and feeling, especially when they are not busy; and explains that if there is a mismatch in our priorities and how we spend our time, we have opportunity to make adjustments that will results in an instant improvement in our wellbeing. 



Website: https://joyfuldvm.com



Get The Alternative Career Guide for Veterinary Professionals: Create A Career Tailored to You! 


Join VetMed;JOY CLUB: Elevate Your Life & Veterinary Career Experience


Listen to The Joyful DVM Podcast: Be Inspired by Empowering Perspectives on Navigating Life as A Veterinary Professional


Join VET LIFE ACADEMY: Transform Your Veterinary Life & Career from the inside out


Learn How to Support Your Organization and Enhance Employee Wellbeing


Music Credit: Music by Lesfm from Pixabay


Thank you so much for listening! If this episode supported you in any way, the best way you can pay forward is by taking a screenshot of this episode and sharing it on social media or with your team, and tag me!


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 a Reflection Friday.

Today is Friday, April 5th, 2024. Today, on this reflection Friday episode, I just wanna talk a little bit about the week that has just finished up or in the process of finishing up because this week ended up being quite different than what I had anticipated. I ended up with a week off from my clinical practice job, something I didn’t really anticipate happening. And there’s a very interesting thing hap that happens when you slow down,

and that is the heart of what I wanna talk about today. Most of us stay on this hamster wheel of getting up and doing the same things over and over and over again every single day. And we might have an underlying frustration or discontent present, but when we stay busy enough, we don’t really pay much attention to us. And this is how action becomes a buffer.

Now, I’ve known for years that action is one of my strongest coping mechanisms. If I’m feeling uncomfortable, I’m just going to get busy because when I’m busy, I don’t have a lot of time to think about anything else. And sometimes though, life throws you exactly what it is that you need, even if you don’t realize you need it. And that’s exactly what happened this week with this unexpected time off.

Suffice it to say that settling in to being away from the clinic was really, really hard. And I had forgotten how hard this could be because it’s been years since I’ve been in full-time clinical practice, like what I’ve been in the last nine months. I remember back to when I own my own clinic and when I would take time off, I would take a week,

I would literally schedule that week off and I would go out of the country because I wanted to be in a place where they really could not contact me. I just needed to completely unplug. But even when I would do that, it would take me a good 48 hours before I could relax. And so this week, with this unexpected time off, I was somewhat surprised to notice that I experienced the exact same thing.

It took me a good 48 hours, maybe even 72, before I could really settle into the idea that I didn’t need to be at the clinic the next morning. There wasn’t something I was forgetting to do that I could just set aside those cases, those issues with it, with our hospital. Not saying their problems necessarily, but just the things that were going on day in and day out at the clinic,

I was able to just to set those aside and really be present with what was happening outside of the clinic over these last several days. It was not an easy task. And I would lie if I’d say I finally settled into ease with being away from there because honestly, I haven’t. That’s also been a very eyeopening experience, and that’s really what I said ignited this idea to talk about this today,

on this reflection Friday episode. I know that many of you experience the exact same things that even when you get away from the clinic, you have a really hard time disconnecting from it. And I want you to know that that is not an abnormal thing. It’s a pretty common thing that happens, but there’s a lot of interesting information that we can gain from that,

a lot of clues that it leaves if we’ll take the time to pay attention to it, instead of doing what most of us do and what I used to do for years, which is to jump back into whatever coping mechanism we have to keep us so distracted that we don’t have time to think about what we’re thinking about. That’s where action can be a really sneaky buffer.

When we’re busy, when we’re focused on doing, we don’t have a lot of time left or emotional energy left to consider how we’re feeling when we’re busy. When we’re doing, that tends to take all of our focus. And so even if we’re feeling anxious or frustrated or nervous or scared about something underneath the surface, when our hands are busy and our minds are focused on something different,

that emotion just kinda sits there and buzzes in the background. When we slow down, however, we’re confronted with that emotion. So whatever’s hiding underneath the surface, when we take away that external thing that we’re using to cover it up, it’s still there. It hasn’t been resolved, it hasn’t been dealt with, it hasn’t been recognized, and that can feel very,

very uncomfortable. Most of us then just jump into something else. And I watched myself do that this week. I watched myself go from being very active and busy in my clinical practice to all of a sudden having this time where I didn’t need to be engaged and action in that way to filling the time with other action, not even productive action, in order to kind of sidestep the way that I was feeling underneath and the emotion and the the,

I don’t wanna say issues, I don’t know the issues are the right word, but all the stuff that was there that I had been just kind of like pushing aside and ignoring for quite a little bit of time. And I got very creative on how I did that. I have an an under the span of 72 hours, managed to read two entire novels of over 600 pages a piece.

When your mind wants to avoid things, it can get really sneaky. Now, there was all kinds of things that I could have gotten super busy with. I could have reorganized some areas of my house. I could have cleaned out my garden, which I actually did do that on Sunday. And there’s some other things that I definitely could have done that would’ve been more perhaps productive action rather than just hiding in a book for three days.

But that in and of itself was also a lesson because it showed me that even though it’s easy for me just like you to make excuses for why we don’t get things done, why things stay on our to-do lists, the most common reason, the real reason that that happens isn’t because the time isn’t available, but because we don’t commit to using our time in that kind of a productive way.

Now this isn’t judgment because the next question always has to come. If I’m not committing to using my time in a productive way, and by productive way I mean using my time in a way that helps me complete items on a to-do list that I put on there, so things that I really want to do, then why am I not spending my time that way?

What else is going on? That’s the biggest question. What else is going on? And so I watched myself over several days this week instead of tackling my to-do list, which when I all of a sudden knew I was gonna have all this time, like that was front and center, I was so excited. Like I can get these things off my to-do list.

And then I watched myself not engage with the to-do list. But why? Well, I come back to what I know. I know that action or inaction is always driven by emotion. So how was I feeling? That’s the better question. How was I feeling? And I recognized that I was feeling anxious. And if I was feeling anxious and me and anxiety we’re good friends,

we have a very long history together. And if I was feeling very anxious and was giving into that anxiety I had, I noticed that I just kind of slid back into some old patterns in ways to avoid that anxiety. In this case, the way that I chose to do it was through reading. Because when you’re focused, when you’re reading something, especially something for fun,

it takes your attention, right? You have to pay attention to the words on the pages to be able to follow the storyline. And it’s pretty hard to do that while also stirring up all the anxiety that might be present. I’m not saying the anxiety goes away ’cause it doesn’t. It’s just like a low level hum underneath it, but it doesn’t get any of my attention.

It doesn’t tend to grow. It doesn’t get better, it doesn’t get better, but it doesn’t grow. And it’s fascinating. When I stepped back away from this and I watched kind of what I have done with my time so far to see that I slid right back into this habit of covering up anxiety with another action. What’s really interesting about this is the degree to which the anxiety was there that I didn’t even realize.

Being very busy in our lives in veterinary practice, whether you’re veterinarians, veterinary technicians, practice managers, I think that we often miss the way that we feel. And what I mean by that is that we don’t recognize how we are feeling emotionally how we are doing. We might say we’ve had a good day or a bad day, but we don’t slow down enough to actually get in touch with our essence.

How are we feeling emotionally? Where is our wellbeing in any given moment? We just stay focused on our to-do list that’s associated with this job. So what needs to get done to finish this day? What needs to happen to finish this week? What needs to get planned to be ready for next week? What can we accomplish now to be ahead of the curve?

And when we’re constantly in that state of looking at our lives, the lens of these jobs and categorizing our to-do list based on the requirements of this job, and focusing then on those things, oftentimes if we’re not intentionally disengaging, we carry all of those same thought processes home with us. Now, we’ve talked about this many, many times about coming home and commiserating and complaining and blaming and just rehashing all the negative,

but I’m not even talking about that. I mean, that’s part of it for sure. That doesn’t help. But I’m talking about just coming home and just having like this low level kind of attachment to what’s happening at the clinic, even when the clinic isn’t open. Thinking about the engagement of the next days ahead, maybe considering the things that have happened and how we’re gonna adjust that moving forward.

And because we are dedicated veterinary professionals, because we do care about our clients, we do care about our patients, and we do tend to be a little bit type A and perfectionistic and hyper responsible, all traits that we need to learn to release. But this is just where we are. Most of us, it almost feels irresponsible to not be thinking about it.

And there is part of us that has learned, some of us that have learned that if we aren’t thinking about it, if we aren’t worrying about it, that we don’t care about it. And that’s just definitely not true. But if we’ve gotten into this habit where having part of our focus on work all the time is just what we do, even we’re trying to be present even when we’re trying to be engaged with something else,

then the indicator that that is happening is really what happens when you’re not at work. How much time does it take you to relax? How possible is it for you to let go? And this is the greatest gift that this week has given me. Of course, who doesn’t want unexpected time off? That’s a wonderful thing. But the reason for that time off,

the personal reason for me wasn’t so that I could rest though that has definitely been a benefit. It was so I could watch what my brain did when I tried to relax that has so much more value because that gives me now an opportunity to question why is it that I’m still feeling anxious if I believed anxiety was coming from X, Y, Z thing at work,

why is it that my to-do list isn’t getting done if I’ve believed my to-do list isn’t getting done because I’ve been spending so much time at the office. These little moments of clarity actually provide such great insight and they are the first steps to the path forward towards something else. And it is these experiences, exactly why I decided to do this time back in veterinary practice,

why I elected to take a position to go back into clinical practice to experience all of this again years later. Now, this time off isn’t done yet. I have a few more days before I go back to the clinic, and I have absolutely gotten sucked into the vortex a few times since I’ve been away. And that’s okay with the role that I have.

That’s just part of the deal. So I’m not bitter, I’m not angry, I am curious, but I’m also aware because what I noticed is as I had to kind of jump in and do a few things yesterday, I was, it was much easier yesterday for me to then disconnect and kind of go back to my vacation mode than it was four or five days ago where I couldn’t seem to disentangle myself.

And one of the greatest gifts that we can give ourselves is learning how to quiet the mind chatter so that we can disconnect from whatever’s grabbing our focus and whatever coping mechanism we’re using to deal with it, in my case, lots of action so that we can be present with the other things in our lives that matter. That doesn’t mean that our jobs don’t matter,

doesn’t mean that the role that we play in veterinary medicine doesn’t matter because all those things matter. But what matters most to you, that’s an individual personalized question. I can’t answer that for you. But what’s most important to you? What’s the highest priority for you? And that changes my friends. What are the, is most important to me? What my highest priorities are today at 50 years old is greatly different than what it was 25 years ago was a brand new grad.

Completely different things. Now, if we don’t stop to ask ourselves the question though, what is of highest priority to us? What is most important to us, then we don’t have any means to evaluate whether or not we are aligning our time with our priorities. And most of us aren’t. If I ask you what matters the most to you and you tell me,

you give me the top three things, then the next question I wanna ask you is, are the top three ways you’re spending your time aligned with in matching with those top three priorities? Because for most of us, we are going to find that it’s not, and my friends, that’s nothing but opportunity that has nothing but opportunity. Because as you start to align your,

the way you use your time with what actually matters to you, then you find balance. You create balance. It’s not even found, you create balance. And as you create that balance, then your nervous system starts to settle down because it is being out of alignment with these things where your priorities and the way you’re spending your time are completely in opposition of each other.

That is where this anxiety comes up. That is where this inability to rest, this inability to disconnect comes from. Because you are constantly fighting against yourself. You’re fighting what you do with how you want to be. And as you learn to start to align these things, the way you spend your time is part of and a reflection of what matters the most to you.

Then the way that you exist in all of those moments really starts to feel better. That is the greatest reminder that I’ve gotten out of this week. So as you take some time off, whenever that might be, one day, a few days, whatever it is for you, I want you to notice, I want you to use your nervous system as your calibration.

How are you feeling? Are you stressed? Are you anxious? Are you worried? Are you overwhelmed? Are you consumed with dread or is it something else? Are you peaceful? Are you calm? Are you content? How do you feel? And if whatever emotion you come up with is dropping you into that negative spectrum of emotion, which is anything that feels uncomfortable,

so anything that’s beyond feeling acceptance or neutral, anything below that, then there’s opportunity for you to ask yourself, what matters to me? What are my top three to five priorities in my life? What is the most important things to me? And then look at how you’re spending your time. Is the way that you’re spending a time a reflection of those top five priorities?

Or do you have a disconnect? Are you massively out of alignment? And when you find that you are out of alignment, this is no, no reason to feel shame or guilt or frustration or judgment. This is awareness. This is clarity, my friends, you cannot solve a problem that you don’t understand. And so by this doing this simple activity,

identifying what matters to you, and then looking at how you’re spending your time, and then just and analyzing and saying, okay, do these things match and recognizing that they don’t. Now, you know, your path forward, your path forward is to consider how am I spending my time that isn’t a priority to me? And how can I stop doing that?

And how can I add in more time focus on the things that actually matter? As you start to do those two things, you are automatically going to start to feel better. Your emotional state is going to start to settle down. And as you do that, what you’re gonna find is that you’re gonna be more productive and engaged in all aspects of your life.

And it’s gonna be quicker to shift your hat from work to home, to recreation, to whatever those things are, because you’re not gonna be constantly fighting against what you’re doing versus what you want to be doing, how you’re being versus how you want to be being, because you are creating the time to be all of those things, every aspect of this amazing human that you already are.

All right, my friends, that’s gonna wrap it up for this week. I hope that it helps, and I will see you soon. Bye for now.