Episode 61 | The Unintentional Impact of Unquestioned Opinions

Opinions in veterinary medicine are strong. 
In this episode I explore where our opinions regarding our veterinary careers come from, and how unknowingly adopting the opinions of our colleagues is having a huge impact on the state of wellbeing for veterinarians, veterinary technicians and entire veterinary teams.



  • Opinions in Veterinary Medicine
  • The impact of an unquestioned collective perspective
  • Filters & Perspectives


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Hi, everybody. Welcome to episode 61. Today, we're going to be talking about opinions and you know what they say about opinions. The reason I want to talk about opinions though, is because we all have our own opinions that we're very passionate about. And most of us have had our opinions for a very long time without ever questioning where they came from in the first place.

Now more than ever in the state of our world, and then the state of what we're experiencing and veterinary practice. I think it's important for us to take the time to consider where our opinions about all kinds of things came from in the first place. See our opinions are usually something that we adopt. It's something that's offered to us by somebody else. And then we just latch onto it.

Often as if it's absolute truth. We know that this happens a lot inside of veterinary practices. We think about all the things that we complain about or the things that we judge other people for. Those are our opinions, our judgements come from our opinions. It's important for us to recognize this because whenever we're judging something that tells us that somewhere down deep,

we believe there's a right and a wrong that it's a binary situation, black and white. Whenever we look at the world through that kind of lens, through an all or nothing perspective, then there's always going to be somebody on the wrong side of the opinion and let's face it. It's never us, right? These opinions of ours, they really infiltrate our entire lives.

They become absolute truths. And through those absolute truths, we make decisions. We make friends, we build communities and it seems to be relatively innocent. I mean, after all, who doesn't want to be around people who believe the same things that you do, of course we do. We feel like we belong. We feel like we're part of something.

But as we continue to go along in our groups of people who have a collective belief system, similar to ours, it becomes harder and harder to see any alternative perspectives. And this is why I wanted to talk about this in the podcast this week, you see the filter through which we see our lives is created by all of the thoughts that we have day in and day out.

And those thoughts, if we're not intentionally seeking an alternative perspective, just tend to be filled with the opinions of the people around us. The people who you spend the most time with will influence your mental well-being greatly. And that happens because of the way that they influence your filter, the way that they influence your perspective. Oftentimes, the people that we spend the most time with are people that we like,

people that we trust. And when we have people who we like, and we trust who have very strong opinions, especially early on in our careers, it's very easy for us to accept their opinions is absolute truth. We don't even consider that. Maybe there's another perspective. This was absolutely the case for me. When I started my career in veterinary medicine.

Now some of you might remember that my dad was a veterinarian. So I grew up in veterinary medicine. It was part of my life from the day that I was born. I did every single kind of job that you could possibly do in a veterinary career. And my dad's opinion of veterinary medicine was not something that we ever discussed. Interestingly enough, he was a solo practitioner and a mixed animal practice where he held 24 7 emergency service.

So it was on all the time when it came to veterinary medicine, but the man never complained about it ever. He didn't complain about the hours that he worked. He didn't complain about the times when he wasn't at home. He didn't complain when he was at work. When I was an undergrad, I had the opportunity to work at his veterinary hospital.

And I started out just doing things like mopping the floors, and then kind of worked my way into doing some reception work and then some veterinary assisting. And during the time that I worked there, what I never saw was him complaining. Now, granted, he was a solo doctor, so he didn't necessarily have other associates to vent to, but even in the absence of having another peer,

another doctor in the hospital, he still didn't complain to anybody else around him. He didn't complain about the clients and their choices. He didn't complain about the hours that he worked or the money that he made. And this was a rural community where I remember back in those days, a rabies vaccination costs $8. So just think about that for a sec,

just for a second. I'm thinking about how this particular person also would work all day and then beyond all call on call all night, every night, that was simply his lifestyle. There were certainly lots of opportunities for him to complain about it, but he never did. So this idea of being unhappy and veterinary medicine was not something that I was exposed to before I ever ended up in the profession,

myself, it was quite an eyeopening experience. And some of you have heard me talk before about how stunned I was during that orientation week of veterinary school. When I heard that veterinarians were at a very high risk for committing suicide, I had never heard that statistic. I had no idea once I got out into veterinary practice and I started to experience the opinions of the people who are working in veterinary practice with me,

I started to understand where that came from, where that statistic became a reality, how it came to be as it was. And I have to tell you, I was a bit shocked by the very strong negative opinions of veterinary medicine. I didn't go into veterinary medicine, expecting it to be hard. And I think for me, that was a great blessing.

I think today our new graduates don't have that same opportunity in our effort to protect our profession from the hardships of the profession. We've kind of tilted the Seesaw completely the other way. We've put a fear and an anticipation into our younger veterinarians, that this job was going to be really hard, that it's going to suck the life out of them. We've planted those seeds of doubt of difficulty into their minds before they ever graduate.

And what happens is that when we offer our minds a perspective, the reticular activating center in the brain goes to work, gathering evidence to prove it true. And so what we have managed to do is seed these ideas of doubt in hardship into the minds of our veterinary colleagues. And then we reinforce it with our opinions. Once they get out there, what happens in a veterinary practice when the entire organization is feeling really burned out and is very much into that complaining and ranting inventing kind of environment and mode is that we build more and more of that opinion in that perspective,

this absolutely happened to me. So even though I didn't start into the profession, expecting it to be negative. So I believe I was kind of even better ahead of where our newer graduates are today, from that perspective, because I came in with a positive opinion of what my experience was going to be. It didn't take long of being in an environment of people who are really burned out and who were coping the best way that they knew how by simply sharing their experience and venting and blaming and complaining for me to adopt their opinions as truth.

It all seemed very logical. I could understand, I could empathize with what they were saying. I could see their perspective. I experienced it myself. And so over time, as those opinions were offered to me, they became my own opinions. I never even questioned them. I started to live those opinions as if they were the absolute truth of what was possible in my career and in my life.

As long as I was a veterinary professional, this is where it gets to be a little bit dangerous because we really start to consider that these opinions that we have about this career field and about the people that we interact with as part of this career, we start to believe those opinions are the facts of the profession. And my friends. I'm here to tell you those are not facts.

They are just thoughts. They are just beliefs. They are just opinions and they can be changed. I think it's very important for us now, more than ever before, to question the opinions that we have, the opinions that you have, those primary thoughts that are kind of bubbling around day in and day out, they are influencing everything else in your life.

If we go back to the mindfulness model, we remember that what we think about creates the feelings that we feel, those emotional feelings, and it is our emotional feelings that drive our actions. So all of our, all the things that we say, all the things that we do, those things are driven by our emotional wellbeing and our emotions themselves are created by our thoughts,

our opinions, our beliefs, and our conclusions, all the sentences that are in our minds. If we don't intentionally put the sentences in our mind, we then adopt as absolute truth. Those that are offered to us, this is why it's so essential for you to question the things that you're believing. Are you looking at your profession through an opinion that you crafted for yourself,

or have you kind of accidentally and unintentionally adopted the opinion of the people who's been, who have been around you if you have, it's totally fine. I did too. But at some point I had to take a step back and decide, is this true for me? And I had to also decide, do I want this to be true for me?

Because what is is true is that these opinions are not factual. They feel factual. We believe they're factual because so many people share in the same opinion, but just having a bunch of people who believe the same thing, doesn't make it absolute truth. It doesn't make it fact. And so you always have an opportunity to decide differently. I encourage you to do that because what you don't see is that these opinions that you hold as truths in your lives are creating the experiences that you have,

what we focus on, we create more of. So for example, if we're in a state of believing that clients are just overwhelming, that clients are disrespectful, then what happens is that we view every client interaction through the filter, expecting overwhelm and disrespect. And so therefore we find it like any filter. What happens in your mind with a mind filter is that what comes into your conscious awareness is what you have told your mind is important.

That's the beauty of the reticular activating system. There's no way that we could possibly interpret and evaluate and take in all of the information into our conscious awareness that is offered to us day in and day out. There's just entirely too much data. And so our brains have built in a system by which it can filter. What's important. Bring that to our conscious awareness and let the other pieces slide on by.

You've heard me talk about this before. I've given the example of like, when you go out to buy a car, you spend some time researching cars, focusing on different cars. You finally pick the car that you want. And then you start to see that car everywhere you think, oh, I look, I've made a great choice. The car is everywhere,

but the truth is the car was always everywhere. It's just that you hadn't brought it to your mind's awareness as something that was important for you to recognize and for it to bring into your conscious awareness. The same thing happens with our opinions. If we don't intentionally go out seeking on an alternative perspective, then what happens is your mind brings into your consciousness only that which would support your opinion,

which leads us to then conclude that our opinion is the right opinion, that there is a binary situation that it's a black and white kind of event. This is why it's so easy for us to believe that the problems of veterinary medicine are things like cranky clients and overbook schedules and pay and all kinds of things like that. I'm not saying that we don't have a lot of opportunities to improve our profession in those areas.

Of course we absolutely do. But because of the way that we talk about those topics, from the perspective of victimization, we have literally taught ourselves to only see those topics from the victim mentality. That does nothing for us when it comes to emotional wellbeing. As we continue to look at our profession and experience our profession as something that we're surviving through as something that's very,

very hard, then that absolutely will be the experience that we create. That doesn't make it absolute truth. That doesn't make it absolute fact, but it sure feels that way because the evidence to the contrary, isn't obviously available. It does exist though. That's the most important thing that I want you to hear today in this podcast, all of the evidence to the contrary of your opinion does exist.

You just have to go looking for it, offering your mind, the opportunity to actively pursue an alternative perspective. We'll do you a world of good, you'll start to see how everything isn't as hopeless as what our minds are leading us to believe. And this is not only something that we need to consider from our veterinary profession. The veterinary profession is just one tiny piece of the human experience that each of us is living.

This is something that we need to consider on a much broader scale, especially now in the world where there is so much turmoil and so much disruption. Most of us interact with a finite number of people. And most of the people within that bubble of ours share a similar opinions. If the opinions of the people in our bubble are the only opinions that we ever expose ourselves to.

It's very easy for us to conclude that those opinions are the right opinions and that everything outside of it is wrong, even to the extent that we won't even tolerate the consideration of an alternative perspective. And this is where your power is for you to go out and hunt the alternative perspective, to look at every issue from multiple vantage points, and then to decide intentionally for yourself,

what you believe you may very well find that where you land in your belief is different than where your friend's land and where your family lands. And I understand that that can be really scary. It's really common when we have somebody who stands up with a belief that's different than their core people around them, that they get some backlash for that we know this is true.

We see it happen in veterinary hospitals all the time, But that doesn't mean that you should comply. That still means that you should decide for you. And that's the most important thing. Don't just accept the reality that somebody else has offered you. I want you to consider all of the things that you have strong opinions about. And I want you to ask yourself,

where did this opinion come from? Who in my life shares this opinion? Did they influence my adoption of this opinion left to my own devices? Would I pick this opinion for myself? Or is this just one of those things that I've adopted as truth without ever actually considering that I might be wrong about that, that maybe this doesn't work for me and for what I truly believe about myself and about the world and about what's possible.

It's critical that we all do this and all of our lives take a bit of an opinion inventory if you will. And when it comes to veterinary medicine, it's essential because what we're going to create as a collective moving forward in veterinary medicine is going to be dependent on the collective opinions of what's possible. And right now, when the loudest voices are all chiming in with doom and gloom and hopelessness and despair and victimization,

it's going to be very hard to create something different and positive and hopeful and innovative from that place. But that's not the only voice. There is common in the day of social media, where it is so easy to get an opinion out there that the opinions that are speaking the loudest are from the people who are hurting. That makes sense, but we need to remember that.

That's not the only perspective we need to remember that people who are happy in this profession, aren't spending their time complaining about it on social media and trying to rally people behind the victim mentality of this profession. I'm not saying, and please understand. I am not saying that we don't have work to do here. We have so much work to do here.

And there are some very real situations in which victimization is occurring within this profession. Don't misunderstand. I absolutely see that to be true, but what I also see to be true is that the way that we change that is one individual person at a time standing up and deciding for themselves what they believe, expressing their own opinion and deciding day in and day out,

how they're going to approach their day. If we continue to just fall into the dominant opinions of the people we are around day in and day out in our practices, and those dominant opinions are on the negative spectrum, just recognize that it's going to be very difficult to create anything positive or better from that place, but it only takes one person. One person with an alternative perspective can change an entire hospital.

It's a ripple effect. It just takes one person bringing in the alternative perspective, reminding people of the rest of what's true, pointing out the clients who are a joy to work with reminding us that it is a wonderful opportunity to be able to work with animals day in and day out to keep front and center in our minds, that there is so much fun that we have the opportunity to have every single day as part of this job.

One person reminding us of that perspective can make a huge difference in changing the entire culture of a hospital. So my friends, what I'm going to leave you with when it comes to opinions is question everything, your action items, make yourself a list of your strongest beliefs, ask yourself, where did I first hear that? Who did I adopt that opinion from,

and then decide for yourself? Do you want to keep that opinion moving forward? Does it have you taking actions and behaving in a way that is more of what you want to become as you move through your life? Or is it limiting you on what's possible? If it's limiting you, you have a massive opportunity to craft an alternative perspective, feed that into your filter and create a completely different reality for yourself.

I feel so passionately about this concept, that this is actually going to be the featured topic in our masterclass this month inside of the joyful DVM membership. So if you want to learn even more about this and how the opinions of people in your lives have actually shaped your own view of yourself, we're going to dig into that this month inside of the joyful Divia membership,

and you can check it all out over@joyfuldvm.com forward slash membership. All right, my friends, that's gonna wrap it up for this episode. I'll see you next.