Saturday, January 16, 2021

Teaching our patients to be more value focused rather than too much goal focused

Have you ever seen patients who are very goal orientated and as a result, have excessive stress and strain?

They create a goal.
Stress and strain to get to that goal. Achieve that.
Then create a new goal.
Then stress and strain again.
Tell themselves it’s worth it.
This is the price we pay.
Achieve that.
Then create a new goal.
Then stress and strain again....

So most of life is “stressing and straining”.

As Doctors and “high achievers”, we may be able to relate to this ourselves.

If imbalanced, this may cause unnecessary pain and unhappiness, along with many biopsychosocial problems.

So what is the alternative if we run into trouble?

Consider being more “value” focused rather than too much “goal” focus. It’s a balance of course.

Look at our goals. See what value/values it represent and consider focusing on those.

For example, if one focuses on the values around courage, productivity, helpfulness, growth, integrity, and compassion for self and others, and take committed actions towards those, then imagine how many goals we can reach as a byproduct from simply following those, with less fear and anxiety.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Counseling in a nutshell - The serenity prayer

I am not particular religious but I do love the simplicity of the serenity prayer.

The Serenity Prayer is a prayer written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.

It is commonly known as:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

I think that really sums up counseling in a nutshell.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Using Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) to help our patients get in touch with their “inner compass” again

I frequently see unhappy folks, adults and children, who are more excessively “outer compass” based. They are great at following the thinking and values of others. They are great at conforming to parental and societal expectations. They are great at achieving “outer harmony”, usually at a price of inner disharmony and unhappiness.

It’s hard to live a life that is untrue to self, and not based on one’s principles and values.

When helping these folks, we can take the Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) approach to help them get in touch with their “inner compass” again, to find and create more “inner harmony”. It’s a balancing act of course between the inner and outer compass. Life is a tough gig for sure.

Identifying one’s values and taking committed actions towards those, are often not taught well at schools or primary care.

Maybe it should perhaps.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Picking up early signs of ASD and the importance of early intervention

Recently, I have seen a few young teenage boys and girls who have struggled with sensing the “vibe” of their surroundings and the “feelings” of their peers. This often results in them doing some “odd” and maladaptive things in the social sense. They generally have difficulties with adapting to their environment, and usually have signs of excessive chronic stress. 

If someone can’t see, we notice, acknowledge and intervene early.

If someone can’t hear, we notice, acknowledge and intervene early.

But when someone can’t sense “feelings” well, we may not notice, acknowledge or intervene early. It can go underneath the radar for a long time because it’s more “abstract” and less objective perhaps.

I think these teenage kids would have benefited from early detection, support, and intervention. There were strong signs of “something wrong” and other ASD traits from early childhood. 

Having said that, better late than never. It’s not easy. Fortunately, General Practice is a wonderful space in that we are blessed with so many opportunities to intercept and intervene.