Episode 190 | Are you REALLY fine, or are you settling?

In this episode Dr. Cari Wise discusses the habit of responding with “I’m fine” and the consequences of not considering how we really feel emotionally. 

She explains that many people in the veterinary field use busyness as a way to avoid confronting their emotions, which can lead to burnout and dissatisfaction. 

Dr. Wise encourages listeners to honestly evaluate their emotional state and question if settling for being “fine” is truly satisfying. By focusing on emotional wellbeing and making deliberate choices, she explains that individuals can create a more fulfilling future. 

The episode also emphasizes the transformative power of self-awareness in shaping a positive life experience. 

Some key takeaways from the context are:

1. Responding with “I’m fine” without acknowledging our emotional state can be detrimental to our wellbeing.

2. Many individuals in the veterinary field use busyness as a shield to avoid confronting their emotions, leading to burnout and dissatisfaction.

3. By focusing on emotional wellbeing and making deliberate choices, we can create a more fulfilling future.

4. External circumstances can not create our emotional wellbeing; self-awareness plays a transformative role in shaping a positive life experience.



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 the joyful DVM podcast. In today’s episode, I wanna spend a few minutes talking about being fine and ask you a question. How are you doing? If you tell me that you’re fine, the better question to ask is, are you really fine? Or is that just the answer that you give because you’re in a habit of giving it?

In the world that we live in, oftentimes when we ask people how they’re doing, we really don’t want a response. We’re not asking them to actually tell us how they’re doing most of the time, it’s just this general sentence that just comes out as a habit. When we interact with other people, oh, how are you doing? Oh, I’m fine.

I’m good. How are you? And it’s not actually truthful. We aren’t really understanding how the other person is doing because they’re not sharing it. And if we’re the one who’s being asked the question, we aren’t actually telling the truth about how we are. Now, I’m not here to try to tell you to tell all of your personal business to the people that you interact with every single day.

That’s not what I’m saying at all. But what I want you to consider is whether or not being fine is actually true for you, and what that even means for most of us, when we say that we’re fine, what that means is that things are okay. That there’s not really anything that’s drastically good or bad that we’re making it, that we’re still just kind of moving forward day in and day out,

maybe on a bit of a hamster wheel, but that overall things are okay. There’s no major trauma or drama going on at that present point in time. Now, many of us will even cover up those things. Even if there is something really challenging going on in our lives, we’re more likely just to say We’re fine, rather than to go into all the details.

And that’s completely fine depending on the audience that you’re talking to. If it’s not your close friends and family who you would normally confide in, then I think it’s completely fine to just say, you’re fine, or say I’m good, or whatever, and move on because maybe they’re just not the people you wanna talk to. But where I have found that we are really limiting ourselves is in how often we give that answer without actually tying to it.

Any self-reflection. If it’s the answer that we give, is that the true answer? Do we even know how we’re doing? The truth is much of the time we stay so busy with the things that we do in this world, our obligations, our work, our home, our friends, our family, all these external things that that busyness takes away the opportunity to reflect on how we’re actually doing.

It takes away the opportunity for us to consider where is it that we’re actually going? What is it that we’re creating and building for our futures? And this is why many of us, after we’ve been in veterinary medicine for five to 10 years, it seems like we look up all of a sudden and all this time has passed and we’re not actually where we wanna be.

We’re making it. We’re paying our bills, we’re going to work, we’re doing the things. We might not enjoy it all of the time, but our lives just keep passing by while we’re just sitting there being fine. We’re staying very busy. Don’t get me wrong. We’re staying very busy, but are we being busy? Are we taking our actions to produce the things that we actually want to create?

Or are we just in constant reaction mode where the activities that we engage in actually don’t create anything different than what we’re experiencing right now? That’s kind of what fine looks like in my definition. I’m fine. Yeah, I’m fine. That means that I am doing the work, I’m making the money, I’m paying the bills, all the urgent things are taken care of,

all my obligations are met. But how am I really, how am I on the inside? What am I creating for myself? Am I spending any time getting to know me? Am I taking action to create things that I want for my future? Do I even remember what those things are? Those are the questions that I want you to ask yourself the next time that you tell somebody that you’re fine because odds are,

you don’t even know that you’ve fallen into this habit pattern of just existing. Now, this isn’t criticism, this isn’t judgment. This is just a heads up that I wish somebody would’ve kind of provided to me a decade ago or two decades ago even to show me that just being on a hamster wheel of busyness does not mean that I’m actually moving forward in my life,

that I’m growing, that I’m evolving, that I’m becoming, and creating what it is that I want to become and create. I think it takes some time in our lives, especially when we’ve gone through a professional academic career. I think it takes some time for us to start to understand who we are because we have stayed so busy from the early, early years of our lives through all the education that we’ve gone through,

we stayed very busy and very single focused on trying to get through all of these studies to earn those degrees, to get into the careers that we now hold. Once we’re in those careers, it becomes a whole new hamster wheel. It becomes a whole new cycle of busyness with different outcomes. Now, we’ve talked many times before about how we keep trying to make ourselves happy by guaranteeing that patients get better and clients are are friendly to us.

We look for these external validators to prove to ourselves that we are worthy, that we are successful, that we are good enough, but beyond that hamster wheel, that cycle of constant performance and seeking this external validation, if we don’t take a step back and consider how we’re spending our time, we actually just keep creating more and more of the same results that we have right now until one day we look around.

Usually when we hit some kind of milestone, whether that be an age milestone or a year since graduation milestone or something like that, we take a look and we’re like, dang, this is where I’m at. This is what I’ve been doing for this long and and am I going to keep doing this forever? That’s really one of the questions as we start to look at our futures and we start to realize that where we are today may not be where we wanna be another 10 or 15 or 20 years from now.

But then we don’t know how to get anywhere different because we’ve never existed in a way other than how we’re existing now. And there may not be any big crisis. There may not be any big challenge. You’re doing okay, you are fine, but is fine good enough is fine enough for what you want for your future. Many of us, because we are so busy,

because we stay in this habit cycle of action, of constantly reacting to what’s happening around us, we don’t take any time to pause. We don’t take any time to consider what it is that we might want for our futures. We don’t have any mental space to consider our lives outside of our careers, let alone our identity outside of our professional labels. And this is where it’s really important for you to find some time to do that.

Now, I know that many of us, the way that we deal with our anxiety and stress in this profession is by staying busy. Busyness is an effective buffer. A buffer is an activity that we partake in that helps cover up whatever emotional experiences that we’re having. There’s all kinds of different buffers out there. Things like overeating and over drinking and overshopping,

for example. All of these things create a dopamine release that feels pretty darn good. It’s short-lived, which is why some of those, especially those really negative habits, that requires more and more and more of those things to stay on any kind of even keel. But what many of us don’t realize is that action, even action that’s productive action can have very much the same kind of effect.

When we stay so busy that our mind never has an opportunity to focus anywhere other than the urgent thing in front of us, then we never have opportunity to explore who we are and more importantly how we feel. Because how we are feeling emotionally underneath all of it is what’s driving that action in the first place. And when we get quiet, what many of us find is that that emotional state that’s hiding underneath all of this action,

all of this productivity, even, even all these good acts that we’re doing that the emotional state underneath all of that is one of anxiety and stress and maybe even fear, my friends, you will not create anything amazing for your future out of an emotional wellbeing that is anchored in anxiety and stress. I can guarantee you that you will stay very busy, you can be very productive,

you can help a whole lot of people and a whole lot of pets from that place. But at the end of the day, when you start looking toward your own retirement, when you start considering the other things that you want involved in your life, that anxiety and stress is going to bubble up tenfold because it’s never actually been gone. It’s always been there.

Our work is to understand how are we feeling emotionally? This is so important because no matter how hard we try to make it different, every action that we take on our lives, even the busy actions, even the productive actions, even the hyper responsibility actions, every action that we take in our lives is driven by some type of emotion. And when we have been so well practiced as staying very,

very busy, we don’t have any time left to consider what those emotions are. And many of us, quite honestly, have been taught to intentionally disregard them. I know that was true for me for years and years and years. When anybody would talk about emotions or talk about emotional feelings, I would get super twitchy. It was just not the kind of thing that I would talk about.

It was not the kind of thing that had any value to discuss. It wasn’t something that the way that I grew up and the different environments that I had been in had had any type of important focus. What I had actually learned was that emotion was weakness, that if you were too emotive, that it only caused you problems. And so I didn’t realize that those were the lessons that I had learned in my lifetime as I had grown up.

But it was certainly something when I started to explore it that I recognized was my pattern. That as soon as there was emotion involved, I wanted to switch gears that I just wanted to get back to my to-do list. I wanted to focus on the things that needed to get done because in that I could see forward movement, I could check off boxes,

I could believe that I was making progress. And it wasn’t until I was at a place where I realized that I couldn’t keep forcing myself forward if I wanted to create a different experience for myself, that I really started to consider this idea of how I was feeling. How did it feel to me to do these different things? What was the emotion behind the decisions that I was making?

And it was during that time that I really started to learn the relationship between emotion and action. It is our emotion that drives what we do 100% of the time. So whether or not those things that we’re doing are productive or not productive, are useful, are not useful. Those actions, those decisions, which are another type of action, they’re always driven by emotion.

So it always comes back to how we’re feeling. And this is where it gets really tricky because how we’re feeling emotionally. We have been taught as a collective that those emotions are created by our circumstances. So by things like the type of job that we have or where we work or who we work with, or how the clients behave during the day, or the different relationships that we have in our lives or where we live,

or the size of our bank accounts, or the size of our waistlines. All these external circumstances, we’ve been taught to believe that it is those things that create the way that we feel. And if that is true, then what happens? We stay in action. We stay super busy putting a lot of effort in physical effort into trying to change our circumstances.

And we believe that putting forth all of that effort and all of that time is worth it because it is the sacrifice that is required in order for us to be happy. My friends, we have it all wrong. We have it all wrong. And so what has happened, because we have believed this for so long, this is how we end up in burnout.

This is how we end up in exhaustion. This is how we end up in complete career regret and in life regret, where we have those moments where we wake up and we take a moment to pause and we’re like, how did I get here? All I’ve done has been really busy for the last two decades, but I haven’t actually done anything with that.

I haven’t actually created anything that’s gonna help me in the future. Now, some of us in that busyness, we will find a few decades down the road that we have created perhaps a volume of money in our bank accounts, or perhaps we’ve paid off a volume of debt, and these are things to be proud of 100%. But I think what you’re going to find is as you build those things,

those things aren’t making you happy. They aren’t bringing to you the joy that you thought that they would bring. And this is perhaps one of the most disappointing things to realize, and that’s why I want you to realize it way earlier than I did, which is it is never going to be your circumstances that make you feel better. It’s never gonna be a change in your circumstances.

It’s gonna shift you out of being anything other than fine. That is something you have to do and to decide intentionally to do early on at the front end. Now rather than later, taking the time to understand how you are actually feeling and to be very, really honest with yourself, very honest with yourself about how you’re feeling emotionally, that is quite honestly some of the most important work and self-discovery that you will ever do.

I’m not saying you have to go out and you have to shout it to everybody. I’m not saying you have to share it at all, but what I’m encouraging you to do the next time that you wanna tell somebody that you’re fine, I want you to make a date with yourself to consider, am I really fine? Am I happy? Am I thriving?

Am I excited? Am I motivated? Am I looking forward to the future? Am I content or am I stressed? Am I frustrated? Am I disappointed? Am I feeling discouraged or defeated? Am I feeling afraid? And the odds are you’re going to be feeling a mix of those things, but how does that mix balance out? Does it drop you to the lower spectrum of emotional state or does it pull you up into the higher spectrum of emotional state?

For many of us, what we’re gonna find is it’s gonna be pulling us down that where we are as an average is gonna be in the lower spectrum. And this is really important for us to know because we cannot create a exciting, fulfilling future for ourselves from a low emotional state today. Everything that we’re creating for tomorrow is taking place with the actions that we take today.

And if our actions today are driven by negative emotion as a balance, then those actions are not gonna produce results that are in the higher spectrum. The obligation that we have to ourselves. And I know that’s a strong word obligation, but it’s, it’s an important word to consider. The obligation that you have to yourself is to learn how to live in a state of high emotional wellbeing,

to understand that your emotional wellbeing has never been dependent on your circumstances, to disentangle your circumstances from the power that you have to create a life experience that you actually enjoy. Because my friends, as long as those things are tangled up, as long as your circumstances are tangled up with your emotional wellbeing, then you’ll just continue to try to put forth effort to change your circumstances and making your emotional wellbeing contingent upon those circumstances being different than they are.

That is giving all of your power away to the things that you will never control, because you can’t work hard enough to guarantee the circumstances change in a way that you want them to change. We have a lot of power over our own lives and our own wellbeing, but we have zero power over what everybody else does in the world. And when so much of our lives are spent interacting with people in the world,

interacting with circumstances beyond our control, and we’re simultaneously believing that those circumstances are creating our emotional wellbeing, it’s very easy to become discouraged and defeated and frustrated. It’s very easy to become bitter and jaded and to start to draw conclusions like going into Vet Med was the worst decision ever. Of course, we’re gonna come to that conclusion if we’re believing that veterinary medicine controls our emotional wellbeing,

of course we are. Because veterinary medicine, by definition is a practice. It is unpredictable. It’s going to deal with uncertain outcomes. We will never control physiology. It’s gonna deal with uncertain people. We will never control the other humans. And so if we are still believing that our happiness and our wellbeing is contingent upon this experience that we have in this career,

then we will lose 100% of the time. And we will answer that question, Hey, how are you doing with the the very textbook answer? I’m doing fine. How are you? But inside, we’re not fine. And not only are we not fine, we’re not giving ourselves permission to consider that we are not fine. And if we cannot realize that we are not fine,

then we do not have an opportunity to really understand ourselves, to understand our experiences and to change those experiences to create a different experience at the end, a different state of emotional wellbeing. So my question for you, how are you doing? And if your answer is, Cari, I’m doing fine, then I want you to consider what does fine mean for you?

Is fine moving you in the direction that you wanna go in your life is fine, finding you to be fulfilled, to be happy, to be motivated, to be encouraged, to be looking forward to the future. Does fine have you feeling excited? Does it have you contributing in a way that you wanna contribute? Does it have you having experiences and relationships in the ways that you want to experience them?

Does it have it you engaging in your life outside of your job? This is a really important litmus test, quite honestly, because if you tell me that you’re fine, that everything’s good, and yet the only thing in your life is your job, if you’re getting up and you’re going to work and you’re dealing with what everything gets to deal with at work,

and then you’re coming home and when you get home at night, you’re scrolling on social media, or you’re eating a bunch of junk food just hanging out LA around and you’re getting up the next day and you’re doing it all over again, and then you’re on your days off, you’re kind of scrambling to get all those other things on your to-do list done,

exhausted from your week, unable to engage in anything extra, and you just live for those periods of time where you have more than one day off in a row. If that’s the way that you’re existing right now, my friend, you are not fine. You’re not. And I know this because I lived that experience for years and years and years, and I believed that was just the way that it was,

that being in the career that we are in, that it took a lot out of me that it required me to be exhausted and mentally kind of overwhelmed and emotionally overwhelmed when I came home at night, that it was normal and natural for me to worry when I wasn’t at work about cases for me to be checking up on things when I wasn’t scheduled to work,

and that it was just part of the deal to not have any outside activities, hobbies, friendships, let alone do anything on a workday. It was almost like being back in school, getting home in the evening after work and doing something else just seemed impossible because I wasn’t physically energetic enough to do it, because I wasn’t emotionally well enough to do it.

I needed that downtime to just retreat. Now, I’m not saying that we don’t need decompression time because we absolutely do. And I’m not saying that the evidence of a thriving life means that you’re busy all the time. That’s exactly what I’m not saying. But what I’m saying is that if that busyness staying in action, continuing to check off a to-do list is the way that you are avoiding understanding your emotional wellbeing,

then that is going to catch up with you. And what I’m also saying is that when your emotional wellbeing is in a healthy place, that you are not drained at the end of the day, no matter how much crazy stuff happens at work, no matter whether a client yells about something or a patient dies, you don’t carry those things home with you.

Now, I know that that sounds impossible because the way that our profession talks about our profession talks about it as if those things are just inevitable, that being stressed out and anxious, that worrying about cases when you’re not at work, that having people yell at you and patients not getting better can ruin your days. I know that’s the way that we talk about this life as a veterinary professional,

but what I want you to know is that that might be some of the experience that we have as a a veterinary professional, those circumstances that we can’t control, but how those circumstances impact your life, and more importantly, your emotional wellbeing. That is completely up to you, completely up to you. We know that we aren’t taking ownership of our emotional wellbeing When we answer the question of how are you doing with the textbook answer of,

oh, I’m fine. We know that we aren’t taking control of our emotional wellbeing when we avoid understanding how we actually feel and when we don’t yet understand that the way that we feel is everything, the way that you’re feeling emotionally is the calibration of your entire life. It is going to drive everything that you’re creating for your future. So my friends, if you want your future to look different than the life that you have right this moment in the present day,

then the way that you get there is by understanding how you feel. First, you don’t have to work harder or change your circumstances. Your future is not contingent on taking different actions to the extent that the actions are the drivers. Your future is contingent on the state of emotional wellbeing that you have between now and then, because it is the emotional wellbeing that will drive the actions that you take.

And when you take action from a state of emotional wellbeing as opposed to a state of emotional distress, then the actions that you take will actually produce outcomes that are more sustainable, that are more aligned with what it is that you want for you. You can’t get to that point though, until you understand where you’re starting. So my friend, how are you doing?

Give yourself time to consider that question. Don’t judge yourself. Don’t end up in a pity party or a downward spiral when you start to realize you’re not as fine as you’ve been trying to convince everybody you are. Just know that you’re human in a human experience, and we can never solve a problem that we don’t understand. And that means that we cannot improve or elevate our emotional wellbeing until we know where we are starting.

And once we know where we’re starting, then we can become those curious students of ourselves opening up every opportunity to shift our entire emotional wellbeing, upward, taking different actions from that new emotional state, creating different outcomes as a result. And then as you continue on that journey, when people ask you how you’re doing, you’re gonna be able to answer truthfully,

I’m doing great. How about you? Right, my friends. Just something to consider this week. If you’re wondering how on earth you can start to dig in and understand your own emotional wellbeing, the place to start remember is always going to be Vet Life Academy. So you wanna learn more about that. Just jump over to joyful dvm.com/vet Life Academy and get on that priority list so that you can be the first to know when we open up to new students.

All right, my friends. Have a great week. I’ll see you soon. Bye for now.