I love my brain. Brains in general are great things to have, and I’ve got a good one. I can restore and retrieve information from it easily, it’s quick, can perform many tasks simultaneously, and seems to have an infinite capacity. Whatever makes a “smart” brain, probably a combination of genetics, training, and micro- and macroenvironments, seems to have come together in my skull.
It’s my mind that I find quite disturbing. It supplies me with a seemingly endless supply of thoughts that I don’t necessarily want and sometimes surprise me with their hostility. There’s a constant back-channel of commentary that goes on, particularly when dealing with compliments.
“Oh Dr Claws, we’re so glad we found you.”
(Why would they say that? You’re so average.)
“You’re the best vet we’ve ever had.”
(Must be their first vet, then. They don’t have much to compare to.)
“You did a great workup on that case. I really like getting referrals from you; your diagnostics are so thorough.”
(Why would he even care? He just says that so we’ll keep sending him referral cases.)
“Thanks for being so caring.”
(Huh. They just don’t know the truth.)
And then there are the long, dark, night-time thoughts that like to occupy the strange space between turning out the light and falling into the safety of sleep. For some reason my mind is really good at finding fault with things after the fact. It’s not so great at giving good advice, just at fretting and critiquing and imagining perils. It’s like I’m living in a fool’s paradise by day, unaware of the truth, and at night these thoughts sneak over the back fence and loid the lock on the back door and break in to set the record straight.
(SoftKitty is on the schedule for tomorrow. You should refer that case. What if something goes wrong with the surgery? What if your diagnosis is wrong? What if the cat doesn’t get better? What if someone finds out how useless you really are?)
(That cat you euthanized this afternoon. Why didn’t you feel bad enough? It’s like you didn’t really care. Not enough. You should cry for all these animals. You are, after all, killing them. How can you be so detached? How heart-stoppingly easy it is for you to kill things.)
When I was a young vet the thoughts were loud, and I tended to believe them quite a bit. They were hard to ignore and took their toll on the tenuous confidence of a new professional. Over time, though, with experience and years and repeated episodes of trying new stuff and absolutely nothing bad happening, I began to realize that my mind is a bastard.
The reason for my mind saying these awful things doesn’t matter. What does matter is recognizing that they are just thoughts. They aren’t Truth, or Reality. They are synapses firing and chemical combinations and connections in my brain and when I recognize them and treat them as such, they suddenly become so much less momentous.
They are of no importance any more, and are, in fact quite boring. And like puppyhood bad behaviors which are ignored, they collapse and become less frequent over time. Now I can laugh at the feeble attempts of my mind to undermine my confidence. I am made up of superheroes – James Herriot and Superman with some Batman thrown in when I need a little Dark Knight, and the yammering of my mind is a minor villain easily vanquished.