Hello and welcome to another episode of the Women in Medicine Badass Radioshow. I’m super excited to be here with you to talk today about accepting reality. This is something that — hey you have heard this before but it’s hard, right? And so I want to talk to you about why it’s hard and how to accept things even when they’re unpleasant and I’m going to share with you a personal story, something that’s happened with me recently to really contextualize this concept. So I want you to consider as we’re talking about this, something that’s hard for you currently to accept in your own life. Maybe it’s that people are not wearing masks and they’re continuing to get covid and they’re showing up and you have to treat them and it puts you at risk and you’re resentful about that. I’ve heard a lot of physicians talk about that recently. It could be about really anything where you want things to be different from how they currently are, where you’re upset, where you’re scared, where you’re unhappy, whatever the case may be so I want you to bring something to mind.
Over the summer I took a road trip with my family for six weeks. We had planned out the entire itinerary and I kid you not, on the first day we already had a major bump in the road. So what happened was we got off the airplane, we flew from San Francisco to Denver, and I had made her a car reservation. We were supposed to rent a car and travel with it and go all the way up to Yellowstone from Colorado and then circle all the way back. And so this was going to take maybe a couple weeks. As we get to the car rental agency, we go up to the counter and the guy very nonchalantly asked me where I’m heading, so I told him I’m going to Yellowstone. What he said to me was, “Actually, I can’t rent out this car to you because it’s our policy that these cars don’t leave the state of Colorado.” And I was just like, “Whaaaat?I have this road trip, I’ve got a family, I’ve got suitcases, we just landed, we’re supposed to do this six-week trip. Already I am like trying to figure out what am I going to do? I need a car. It’s not an option. I don’t have another reservation clearly, so what am I going to do?” Now I had booked this reservation with Priceline and so we try to contact them and see if they could give me a refund because it was substantial amount of money, it was over $1,000, so that I could use that money for a new reservation. Well the guy at the counter was super kind and was helpful and getting me to have another reservation but we still couldn’t get the refund from Priceline. I finally got somebody, one of their representatives on the phone and they basically said that because I didn’t fulfill my end of the bargain, which is renting the car, that you do or I didn’t cancel ahead of time that they weren’t going to give me my money back. So right at the front we’re out about $1,200. Now I have to put out another $1,200 for another car and I’m trying not to freak out.
So here’s a classic situation where I saw myself and the potential in front of me of being unhappy about the situation and here’s what I decided in that moment. I decided that I was going to refute the charge if not just with Priceline then also with my credit card and in the meantime I was going to move ahead as if everything was okay. I was going to make a new car reservation. We were going to head on our trip as planned and I would deal with whatever happened down the road. Now what that meant is I have to file a claim with the credit card company and I didn’t know if they were going to accept that and refund me my money or not. And even not knowing that I decided that even if they don’t give me back my money, I will make peace with that decision because hey, you can’t fight reality. And if they don’t give me back my money there’s absolutely nothing I can do. So what is the point really of getting all upset about it? And what I told myself is it’s just money and I’ll make more money in my life. So I decided that I wasn’t going to hold on to this. What I did decide to is that why you not going to use Priceline to prepay for a car reservation again and that I wasn’t going to rent a car from that particular car rental agency. Those are things that I have control over.
Now I know that of this sounds very rational very methodical and it’s hard to do especially when there are things that are out of your control when you’re not happy about the circumstances and so forth, but you have to ask yourself this question: “What is the benefit of getting all emotionally disturbed about something that you can’t control and what could you do instead with all of that energy? Is there something more that you could do?”
I could have let this really ruin our trip or at least the beginning of the trip and I could have been really fretful about what the end outcome would be until I heard the outcome. As it turned out I didn’t actually find out the end result until nearly the end of the six-week trip and so can you imagine if I would have let that kind of be something that sits in the back of my mind and constantly stirring up anxiety and worry and frustration? That’s not how I wanted to spend the time with my family during this road trip. So I made a decision that I was going to let it go and then I was going to do everything I could to be proactive about it but at the end of the day when I do everything that is in my power and then I have to leave it up to other people to make the final decision, that’s where you have to just let it go and that’s exactly what I did.
Recently I had another experience where I went to a conference and on the way back I got to the airport a couple of hours ahead of time and I was like, “Oh, I have so much time. I’m going to sit down and I’m going to do some work on my laptop.” And then when it was time to board I packed up all my stuff and I started walking towards the gate. I was in the area of the gates but as it turned out, it was area A and I needed to go to area B and they were very far apart. So by the time I got to where I needed to go to they had literally just closed the doors. And as I got up to the counter it became very evident that I wasn’t getting on this plane, that my luggage was on the plane, that I couldn’t get another flight until either that night in which case I would have to spend all night on an airplane and instead of it being a direct flight, I would have to make a connection and I wouldn’t get in for 12 hours instead of it being a much shorter flight, that my other option is waiting 24 hours for the following day to take the next flight out. I mean my options just weren’t good. And I realized that I had no change of clothes, I had no hotel or nowhere to stay. I just really was feeling the anxiety about all of the options in front of me, feeling really the weight of that stressful decision I had to make.
And then I said, “You know what I need to take a step back. I need to take a breath and really clear my head so that I can make a good decision.” And so I told the lady thank you very much for letting me know my options. Let me get back to you. And I took myself aside and I sat myself down and I took a few deep breaths and I said, “Okay, the flight where I have to be on an airplane all night and connect does not sound like a good idea. It actually sounds like a bit of a nightmare. To wait 24 hours is not ideal. I don’t have a place to stay, but if that’s a better option than flying over night then I have to figure out where I’m going to stay and what I’m going to do between now and then.
So I made a decision that you know I’m going to take the lesser of two evils and then I was basically looking online for where can I stay last minute. And as soon as I figured that out I went back up to the counter and I said, “I will take the flight tomorrow at the same time” and she gave me my boarding pass and off I went to my new reservation.
Listen, it wasn’t an ideal situation for sure, but those were my options, that was my reality and I had to choose something. And I could stress out about it and I could freak out about it and I could cry my eyes out about it, but I recognized that I just had to breathe and I had to move on. So I had to make some calls to my husband and let him know that I wasn’t arriving, that he had to take care of the kids for one more night, and he was okay with it. And you know what I want to my new hotel room and I made some plans for whatever going to do for the rest of that day and then I spent the next morning doing some more things from my computer and from my phone and keeping myself busy and eventually bringing myself back to the airport and getting on that flight.
So you might have something that’s even more drastic than that in your life and it’s hard for you to accept that reality, but I think it’s the same process regardless of what it is. I think it starts in your mind where you have to recognize that you have a choice and then you can fight reality and make yourself miserable or you could take a step back take, some deep breaths, ask yourself, “What options do I have?”, make the best possible choice for you in that position, and let it go.
If it has to do with other people, as I mentioned in the beginning, like you’re upset that they’re not wearing masks and they’re getting sick, if it’s something like that, recognize that no matter how upset you are, your upset will not make them wear masks more, it will not bring unless people to the hospital for treatment, it’s not going to change the reality.
So now you’re faced with this reality that you don’t like and on top of it all of the frustration and irritability and upset that you feel. So that’s where you have a choice, not in changing the reality but in how you feel about it and what you do. So if you want to keep your sanity, I would just recommend asking yourself some really good questions to verify that you do have a choice, make that choice be as aligned with how you want to feel as possible, and have some peace even in situations that are not ideal.
If you need more help with this I highly recommend that you check out The Priming Lab. It’s where we do a lot of this work together. I coach you on a weekly basis so that you can get to a new way of thinking about things that will be really helpful in situations that are hard to accept. It can help you to have less anxiety, less stress, and have a lot more support in the things that are currently a struggle. I hope to see you there go to www.ThePrimingLab.com to find out more. In the meantime I’ll see you next week, take great care and if you found value in this please share it with someone who would benefit as well.