Dr. Shepherd Taught Me To Trust Myself And Now I Can Move Forward Freely

Dr. Shepherd Taught Me To Trust Myself And Now I Can Move Forward Freely

In the midst of shame and failure, we must learn to be understanding of ourselves.
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When I baked as a little kid, I refused to let the batter go into the oven until I’d flattened it. I would stop my mom from trying to put it the oven, take a spatula to flatten the batter, and claim that flattening it would make it taste better.

It's weird, I know.

I’m still not sure where that came from, but I know this: I like having control. I remember resonating with Emily in the "Pretty Little Liars" books when she would watch the cars go by and think “if the next car is red, then ___ will happen.”

Our brains like to make and find patterns in the world -- it makes us feel safer. We know so little in comparison to the intricacies of the world and bodies we live in, and that can be scary. We want to feel like we know, like we understand, like we have some small bit of control.

In my statistics class in high school, we played with the random number generator on our calculators. If a certain number kept coming up, we guessed that same number would come next; however, our teacher had to keep reminding us that another number has just of an equal chance. Logically, it made sense, but I found it hard to not still guess that same number. After all, it had just an equal of a chance as the other numbers, right?

But what happens if the next car is blue? Or if the car is red but something unexpected happens? What if we put our trust and control in something that doesn’t happen, that lets us down? What if we make the wrong decision and intense complications arise?

I’ve been watching a lot of "Grey's Anatomy" lately and thinking about these questions often. I’ve seen episode after episode where patients die -- sometimes unexpectedly, sometimes not, sometimes because a doctor makes a mistake, sometimes because the initial injury was just too severe. Sometimes, the doctors are sued by grieving family members who don’t agree with the doctor and blame him or her for their loved one’s death.

How do those doctors deal with that? How do they forgive themselves when they mess up and people die? How do they come to terms with the fact that they don’t have full control, even when they think they do?

While I’ve never found myself in such a position, I have made choices I wish I didn’t. I’ve dealt with consequences and regret and shame -- we all have. We aren't perfect and life isn't fair. I blame other people; I blame myself. I find regret terrifying.

When we encounter these moments, we have to learn to be understanding of ourselves. Our past experiences bring us to where we are. Difficult, scary, urgent decisions confront us, finding us left to our own devices. Decision-making isn’t easy, especially under pressure and false trust and past pain.

That’s how Dr. Shepherd from "Grey's Anatomy" does it. Without giving spoilers, I can tell you this: he trusts his decision, his knowledge, his gut feelings. To the best of his ability, he holds strong in those facts and knows he must move on and move forward to continue saving lives.

I think of a Wendell Berry quote from "Criminal Minds": “The past is our definition. We may strive with good reason to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it. But we will escape it only by adding something better to it.”

When we mess up, we have to remember the future holds good decisions, good luck, better options, better days. It holds successes rather than failures, and reminds us that failures are just learned experiences.

After all, as C.S Lewis said, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

Cover Image Credit: My Life is a Music Video

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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A Little Skepticism Goes A Long Way

Be informed citizens and verify what you see and hear.

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These days more than ever before we are being bombarded constantly by a lot of news and information, a considerable amount of which is inaccurate. Sometimes there's an agenda behind it to mislead people and other times its just rumors or distortion of the facts. So, how do you sift through all this and get accurate information? How can you avoid being misled or brainwashed?

This is an important topic because the decisions each of us make can affect others. And if you are a responsible citizen your decisions can affect large numbers of people, hopefully positively, but negatively as well.

It's been said that common sense is not something that can be taught, but I am going to disagree. I think with the right training, teaching the fundamentals behind common sense can get people to have a better sense of what it is and start practicing it. All you will need is to improve your general knowledge and gain some experience, college is a good place for that, then add a little skepticism and you are on your way to start making sensible decisions.

One of the fundamental things to remember is not to believe a statement at face value, you must first verify. Even if you believe it's from a trusted source, they may have gotten their info from a questionable one. There's a saying that journalists like to use: "if your mother said, 'I love you' you should verify it.'" While this is taking it a bit too far, you get the idea.

If you feel that something is not adding up, or doesn't make sense then you are probably right. This is all the more reason to check something out further. In the past, if someone showed a picture or video of something that was sufficient proof. But nowadays with so many videos and picture editing software, it would have to go through more verification to prove its authenticity. That's not the case with everything but that's something that often needs to be done.

One way of checking if something sounds fishy is to look at all the parties involved and what do they have to gain and lose. This sometimes is easier to use when you're dealing with a politics-related issue, but it can work for other things where more than one person/group is involved. For example, most people and countries as well will not do something that is self-destructive, so if one party is accusing the other of doing something self-destructive or disadvantageous then it's likely that there is something inaccurate about the account. Perhaps the accusing party is setting the other one up or trying to gain some praise they don't deserve.

A lot of times all it takes is a little skepticism and some digging to get to the truth. So please don't be that one which retweets rumors or helps spread misinformation. Verify before you report it.

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