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Treating yourself with compassion
  1. Ebony Escalona

Abstract

Many of those working in the veterinary world rightly see compassion as one of their greatest strengths. As Ebony Escalona explains, it is a power than can valuably be used to boost your own wellbeing as well as that of others.

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Ebony Escalona is a vet and an adviser at VDS Training

This section is supported by the VDS and is aimed at improving the efficiency and wellbeing of vets. Encouraging you to have a more balanced life outside of work.

What’s your superpower? This is a question I often ask during conversations with peers and professionals who have lost their career mojo. It can really help to recount the strengths or skills that people know you for.

Compassion is honourable but takes energy, so how do we provide a little more self-compassion?

Nine times out of 10 when I ask this question, the answer is ‘compassion’. This is honourable but takes energy, so how do we provide a little more self-compassion? After all, being kind to oneself is a really important part of maintaining wellbeing.

Self-compassion doesn’t always come easy

Unfortunately, self-compassion doesn’t always come easy. It can be hard to channel as there is often guilt around putting ourselves first. Sometimes it helps to think about the mantras and pieces of advice that our loved ones have passed to us. These words and phrases can act as a support when times get tough and as a reminder that being kind to others means being kind to ourselves too.

In a recent post on Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify (VSGD) – the online community I founded to help discuss career options – I shared my mother’s mantra in a bid to help those who were interviewing for new jobs: ‘What is for you will not pass you’. This has guided me ever since I left home at 17. She uttered those words to help me figure out relationships, jobs, education and more. Whenever I am beating myself up over rejection, these words stop me in my tracks and remind me to be a little kinder to myself.

I asked the VSGD community to share their mantras too. If you are needing to channel your inner cheerleader and dampen down that inner critic perhaps look to see if any of these kind words fit.

‘Will I remember what I am stressing about in an hour, day, month or year?’

These words can help us to keep perspective when times feel really hard.

‘Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go and do more of that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.’

This quote from the US civil rights leader Howard Thurman helped the poster to stop focusing on what everyone else needed from her and just do what she felt passionate about. Because, realistically, what people need is for us to be happy and energised in what we do and not burnt out and miserable.

‘You’re the vet’

One poster recalled a supportive colleague telling her he used to say ‘you’re the vet, you’re the vet...’ to boost his own confidence as he drove to equine calls. When she started going out on ambulatory calls she opened her boot one day to find a sticker within it saying ‘You’re the vet’.

‘Sometimes your biggest failures lead you to your biggest successes’

This poster had stressed and cried about failures and mistakes, in her personal, academic and professional lives. However, she realised if it hadn’t been for these ‘failures’, she wouldn’t have done the things she had, met some special people, and achieved many of the things of which she is most proud. You’ll never know what’s around the corner if you don’t look.

‘It’s about the journey, not the destination’

If you can’t enjoy and appreciate the here and now, and the process of getting from A to B, then you are missing the point. It’s less about getting to some ideal outcome and more about making the most of where we are today.

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