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Becoming Unfuckwithable: 3 No Cap Strategies for Developing Equanimity

Updated: Apr 6

Howdy fellow humans!


How can it be April 2024 already? 4 YEARS SINCE 2020?? How is that possible? Does anybody else feel like they are in a time warp? Where did the last 4 years go?


Thanks for wondering with me.


This month the world continues to be dead ass weird, so I decided to focus on the word that, for me, started it all: unfuckwithable. 😆


Come - time travel with me back to 2017. We were all 7 years younger. DAMN. Remember Envelopegate? #metoo? Harry and Megan got engaged, Handmaid's Tale shooketh us, and Wonder Woman broke the box office.


It was a big year.


Anyhoo - that was also the year that I created the Mindful Management lecture series. At that time, I noticed a lot of my colleagues and coworkers struggling with how to deal with reactive clients and coworkers and I wanted to help. The Mindful Management lectures focused on understanding why people behaved badly at the vet hospital, identifying fear behaviors in human beings, and then developing strategies to manage yourself when faced with adult tantrums.


At the end of every mindful management talk - I would always (and I do mean always) tell the audience that everything they learned was for one thing and one thing only -


so that they become this:


unfuckwithable
THE SLIDE.

I chose this word because it summed up everything I wanted for my fellow veterinary people.


The first time I used it I was nervous about how it would be received - I mean, it does have the word fuck in it. 😱 But to my surprise and delight, veterinary audiences resonated with the term. In fact, my unfuckwithable slide is the most photographed slide I have ever created, and since then, I've been so happy to see more veterinary professionals use the term in their lectures and presentations. I'm so proud of us.


Unfuckwithable = Unbothered = Equanimity


If the word fuck bothers you no judgement - you can use unbothered. Another great way of saying you are unfuckwithable/unbothered is to say you operate with equanimity. Equanimity originates from the Latin word aequanimitas that combines the words aequus ("equal; calm") + animus ("mind, soul"), which roughly translated means “with level mind”.


(ps if you haven't learned by now I'm a word nerd and I love etymology - the scientific study of the origin and evolution of a word's semantic meaning across time. Simply fascinating.)


Equanimity is the ability to maintain a calm mental state after a shock, disappointment, or a difficult situation. It means being calm and in control of your emotions, especially in a difficult situation.


You could also say equanimity is mental or emotional stability, composure, and being in full control of your emotions, especially under tension or strain.


As far as I can tell there are no cons to developing equanimity. It one of those super human powers that has many benefits, including:


  • lower stress

  • greater inner peace

  • less regrets

  • less wasted energy

  • better interactions with others, especially during difficult situations

  • higher awareness of self and others

  • calming to others

  • better focus and productivity

  • prevents compassion fatigue, moral distress, and burnout


Here's the T:


One of the BEST things you can do for your mental health and sanity (remember we are Vets Against Insanity here) is be as unbothered/unfuckwithable as possible. Nonchalant. Relaxed. Amused. Detached from the outcome.


Someone triggers you?


Unbothered. They are just projecting their pain/fear/negative emotion onto you. Relax. Chill. They aren't going to impact your energy unless you let them. You are in the driver's seat of your emotions...not situations, not them. You.


If you can prioritize being chill and stop being so reactive to situations that piss you off, you literally get your power back. No matter how much you have practiced the opposite (i.e. being pissed off at something every fucking day) you can do this. And deep down, even tho it feels validating and dare I say safe to feel angry in the moment, the best parts of you know that operating with equanimity in any situation is it's the best thing you can do.


How to Become Unfuckwithable


Here are 3 strategies vet professionals can do to raise their unfuckwithable (or unbothered) quotient.


1. Recognize That Pet Owners Are Often Reactive and Fearful

sad little child
Awe.

Veterinarians assist people in crisis, and people in crisis often cannot see things logically or rationally. In fact, they can be downright rude and nasty because they've been cognitively and emotionally hijacked by part of their their primal midbrain, the amygdala, which is the seat of fight/flight/freeze. It doesn't excuse the behavior, but it sure does explain it.


How would you treat a fearful and reactive dog? With compassion and understanding. The same should go for a fearful and reactive human.


If a client or coworker lashes out, remember it is way more about them projecting fear, guilt, shame, and/or sadness than it is about you.


When clients had virtual or in person meltdowns in front of me, I trained myself to see them as a young child who was sad or scared. That changed everything for me.


2. Recognize and Address Your "Check Engine Light" Signal


check engine light
It's the dash emoji we didn't want, but needed anyway.

Moral distress and compassion fatigue are both well known psychological conditions that create mental and emotional anguish in veterinary peeps. I prefer to think of them as check engine lights that let you know when something within you is out of alignment and needs your attention.


There are many ways to recognize and turn off your check engine light. Here are a couple of suggestions:


  • Ask yourself how you've been managing your personal needs and practicing self-care, then make adjustments as needed.

  • Recognize when you get wrapped up in gossip, emotional dumping**add link**, or complaining at work. Interrupt yourself in the act if possible, and use the opportunity to practice simple self care in the moment, like conscious breathing.

  • Acknowledge the negativity of social media. Avoid veterinary discussion groups that tend to go negative (they are addictive, feel good in the moment, but ultimately don't serve you)

  • Notice when you feel stuck. Practice the art of non-attachment to outcomes.

If you feel like you need further support, talk to your doctor or a trusted therapist.


3. Remember Adequate Self Care = Bullet Proof Resilience


Veterinary professionals are, in general, caring people that may be empathetic to a fault. I would say some of us are chronic over-givers, and it shows. Many of us have not been taught how to care for ourselves in the midst of this demanding profession, and the most current numbers on occupational burnout and mental illness within the profession support this statement.


Fortunately, now we recognize the need for better self-care. You alone are responsible for protecting and maintaining your mental wellness. Above all else, remember you are worth the effort you invest in yourself. Some practices you could consider:


  • Cultivate a daily mindfulness practice, such as meditation.

  • Start and end the day with gratitude for the simple things.

  • Take a stupid walk for your stupid mental health...every day.

  • Create a "What went well" journal (ps I did this - it's not easy at first but gets easier over time)

  • Something stressing you out? Practice self-regulation with breathwork

  • Practice healthy boundaries.

  • Do not complain for 24 hours. No really. It's hard. Try it.

  • If you view a situation as negative, learn to reframe the experience to see the positive. This is called cognitive reframing, and it is often helpful to conduct this with a trained therapist.


You can't be bitter and expect your life to be sweet.

Action Step


What's one thing you could start implementing on a regular basis to help increase your mental and emotional resilience, a.k.a become more unfuckwithable? Share it in the comment section.


Commit to practicing that habit daily. Remember that under pressure, we fall to the level of our training. Do the work ahead of time so that when future you is confronted by negative people or stressful situations, you already have a plan on how to maintain your equanimity. Your unfuckwithableness. Your unbotheredness.


We will be exploring more ways to become unfuckwithable in the next blog, which you should expect around the 15th. Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don't miss it (just click the big obnoxious pink button at the top the main blog page).


Until then, we send you all our slightly scandalous love ~


Sarah J. Wooten, DVM, CVJ and the Vets Against Insanity Crew 😆


Sarah Wooten






Hey wait I have moar things to say 👇👇👇👇👇


We are running a cool social media contest and you could win a VAI CON hoodie and new VAI games. To play along, visit our new page and caption the duck. 🦆


AAANNNNDDDD Join us in Nashvegas for shenanigans, CE, and more ways to become unfuckwithable:



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