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Considering Hard Choices as Opportunities to Shape Your Life

This is a time of year when some trainees may have more than one opportunity/offer to choose a medical school, graduate program acceptance, or job offer. 

Sometimes, trainees are clear about their top choice right away and sometimes the decision is harder.

Ruth Chang from the University of Oxford has given a thoughtful TED talk about situations like these.

When options are close, and as Ruth Chang, says “on a par”, then you have the opportunity to reflect and decide how you want to shape your life, what values are important to you.

Learning to Wait Well

Waiting for news about our future, whether that be about grad or med school, a new job, or a health diagnosis, can be hard to tolerate. With it often comes feelings of anxiety, fear of the unknown, or worry about potential news we’re not hoping for. These feelings are often intense and highly uncomfortable so we can find ourselves coping with them by distracting, numbing, avoiding, or constantly checking our devices for any new information that may have come in the last few minutes. This can sometimes feel like a new-found anxiety.


Disentangling Our Identities from Work

Our self-identity is central to our well-being. “Who am I?” is not just a question that we contemplate during adolescence but one we come back to throughout our lives. As adults, our careers or jobs are a part of our identity. Having a job that we love is a goal for many; it can bring about a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose and satisfy intellectual curiosity. A strong work identity can be tied to an overall healthy well-being. There are situations, though, in which work becomes our sole identity.  Our culture prioritizes this work identity, often rewarding burnout over balance.


Grounding Skills

Grounding skills are a set of physical, mental, and soothing strategies that help us manage stress and anxiety, including trauma-related distress.  They consist of small tasks that are designed to distract us from our distress by heightening our awareness of our current environment and refocusing on the present moment.  They help us create a safe space so that we can center ourselves and gain control over our strong emotions and prevent us from spiraling into negative thought patterns.

Accountability and Self: Addressing Self-Esteem, Self-Worth and Self-Image

Self-worth is an essential component of our well-being. The American Psychological
Association (APA) defines self-worth as “your evaluation of yourself as a capable and valuable
human being deserving of consideration and respect. It is an internal sense of being worthy of
love”. Self-worth is valuing yourself and the unique qualities that define who you are. It is an
internal feeling of worth and not to be based on external validation. When we intrinsically feel
we are worthy, our self-image and self-esteem aren’t dependent on other people’s perceptions;

How to Work with What You Got: Managing the Unpredictable Challenges of Working with Chronic Health Issues

Many of us are dealing with health issues, mental and physical, that are chronic and can impact our capacities at work. Our energy levels, pain, and ability to concentrate may be unpredictable day-to-day, making it difficult to always plan accurately for what we might be able to get done. This can lead to feelings of guilt and shame that only add to the pressure we’re already experiencing given the situation we’re in. With all this in mind, I think it’s important to directly acknowledge that there are no perfect or one-size-fits all solutions to navigating this difficult situation.

Interrupting our Self-Doubt through Self-Awareness

We all know the feeling of self-doubt. It’s that voice inside us that tells us we’re not quite good enough, not cut out for what’s ahead. None of us like to openly admit it’s there because that would blow our cover of proving our worth. So instead, we let it fester inside us and try to soothe its irritation by engaging strategies that usually look something like:

People pleasing: We do and say things that keep the peace around our coworkers and peers out of fear of rocking the boat or our inadequacies may be exposed.


Perfectionism Throughout My Life: A Journey Through Art

Guest Blogger: Andrea Naranjo Erazo, PhD: Co-director, NIH Academy on Health Disparities and Research Ethics Coordinator, OITE

I grew up with a strong desire to be perfect. Always getting A’s, never getting in trouble, and caring deeply of what others thought of me. This was also reflected in my early paintings, where I placed great attention to details, and captured landscapes perfectly.

Minding Our Mood- Steps to Help Us Manage Our Emotions 

Every day we experience a myriad of emotions. Our emotional day can be steady or fluctuate between moods, depending upon many internal and external variables. These variables may include the amount we slept, hunger level, stress at home or work, as well as many others. There are times we become stuck emotionally and are unable to break out of an unhealthy cycle. If we are in a “bad” mood or negative frame of mind, we tend to focus our attention inward. It is important to differentiate a bad mood from depression.

Resiliently Navigating Rejection: Forging A New Path Forward

Rejection is something we will all deal with at some point in our lives. Unfortunately, this sentiment – meant to give us perspective and a sense of common humanity in our struggle – isn’t one we readily soak in when we’re the person who’s been turned down by our dream job or denied admissions to the medical or graduate school on which we’ve hung the fate of our future. Instead, when dealing with rejection, we often forgo the more helpful, deliberate practices of self-compassion, for our less helpful modus operandi: self-doubt, rumination about what we should have done differently, and worry about the future.