The nurse comes into my office with a grim look on her face. She tells me that my next patient threw up in the exam room. The nurse adds that the patient has severe abdominal pain. I save my note, get up from my desk, and briskly walk to see the patient. In the room, I see a light-skinned African-American 29-year-old female embracing her stomach and crouched over. Her name is Rae.
Rae’s afro was bobbing up and down due to the pain. She’s crying and wincing while clutching her stomach. I ask her what’s wrong. Rae tells me for the past month she’s noticed increasing amount of feces in the urine. I ask her how does she know it’s feces. She tells me that it’s brown and it smells.
I rush the history and physical. I tell the nurse to give her some pain medication and to straight catheterize her. When the nurse catheterized the patient, 100 millilitres of brown, fecal matter mixed with urine came out. I call the hospital and admit the patient. She had surgery the same day. The patient had an acute flare up of Crohn’s disease.
What’s Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune inflammatory bowel disease in which your body’s autoimmune system fights itself. It has a predilection for the gastrointestinal tract, but certain areas of the body can be affected too. It’s not typically fatal, but the morbidity is pretty high. Patients get colostomy bags, multiple surgeries, small bowel obstructions, and even fistulas (or connections) between the colon and the bladder. It’s psychologically devastating too. The onset is usually around 15 to 30 years of age. Can you imagine going through high school with constant trips to the bathroom, blood in your stool, feces in your urine, and constant abdominal pain?
Rae was jubilant after the surgery. I saw her the next day in the hospital speed walking around the ward. She was on some heavy-duty pain meds cause of the surgery, but she was very determined to get up and start walking and being stronger. She was worried about missing her job. She had a son at home that she needed to get home to take care of. Her brother was hospitalized at the same time for renal failure, so she needs to help take care of the rest of her family at home. Despite all this, she left with a smile. I asked her the secret to her motivation. With a grin on her face, she replies “Well duh, because I’m Rae!” After a fist bump, Rae left the hospital ready to conquer life.
Confidence or Arrogance? The Reclining Buddha
In Thailand, I was at Wat Pho temple. In the temple there is this statue of the Buddha lying on his right side, resting his head on his hand, and smiling. The statue is huge – 15m tall and 46m long. I asked my tour guide what’s the story behind this statue, and this is what he told me:
A long time ago, there was this giant called Asurindarahu or Asur for short. He was the biggest person in the world. And even bigger than him was his ego. He would strut his stuff and brag about how huge he was. One day, he wanted to meet the Buddha. He would yell, “Buddha where are you! I want to meet you!” The Buddha would reply “I’m right here.” Asur would yell again, “I can’t see you!” The Buddha would say “I’m right here.” Asur kept looking and looking but he couldn’t find the Buddha.
Asur finally said “I can’t see you. I must be too big and you must be too small.” The Buddha, the prankster he is, replied “Hold on, let me help you out.” Then the Buddha laid down on to his right hand and smiled. He was 1000000000000000x bigger than Asur. And then the Buddha showed him the rest of the universe, which was all smaller than the Buddha, but at least 10000x bigger than Asur. Asur felt humbled and acknowledged the world a lot greater than he.
The moral of the story is simple. Asur thought he was the biggest person in the world. His arrogance can easily be misconstrued as confidence. Luckily, the Buddha taught him how to limit his arrogance. The Buddha drew a feeling of humility from Asur by showing him the universe. After seeing the bigger picture, Asur accepted that there were things bigger than he. I think that humility is essential for distinguishing conceitedness and self belief. Now that we know the difference, how do we find the right balance?
There are plenty of times when the world might seem so big that it’s overwhelming. Feeling small is not exactly a confidence booster. In fact, there are times in life when we can feel like the away team at a game. There’s no one cheering for us. Most fans are even booing whenever we touch the ball. Even our own minds can work against us. We start to self depreciate. We deteriorate. We think we’re not good enough. The downward spiral continues and we can get caught in the negativity’s quicksand.
Be The Best You
It’s true when they say the biggest obstacle is yourself. It’s also true that our greatest strength is ourselves. Get into the habit of reminding yourself that everyday. An easy practice to do that is to create your own commercial – a sell yourself to yourself commercial.
How to create the best commercial for yourself.
Follow this template. For each blank, insert your name. You can vary it anyway you want. The gist is to highlight your strengths and remind yourself of how great you are. Once you fill in the blanks, memorize this piece. Visualize it even. Imagine you’re up late one night, and this cheesy, but really motivational infomercial comes on about you. By the end of the commercial, you’re going to want to feel like getting up, calling that 1-800 number, and ordering 100 products of yourself right then and there!
“Meet _________. Now this is an important person. _______ thinks big. _______ thinks big about everything._______ wins at life. Each morning, ______ wakes up ready for the day. _______ believes in happiness, progress, and prosperity. And true to _______’s belief, _______ only talks about happiness, progress, and prosperity. _______ does more than just talk, _______ does. _______ has a bottomless bucket filled with motivation. _______ puts that motivation to work. And when _______ does something, _______ does something. And _______ looks good while doing it. Want to be _______? Well you already are. You are _______.”
–Adapted from The Magic Of Thinking Big
You can say this to yourself in front of the mirror every morning. You can recite before any big game. You can remember it during an important interview. The trick is to be consistent. Repetition is key. The US invests over 70 billion dollars per year on advertising. Why so much? Because advertisements work. Great advertisements work because they leave impressions. Rae certainly left an impression on me. The Buddha left an impression on Asur. Make an impression on yourself with yourself.
What’s your best commercial? Call 1-800-Comment-Below now!