Stress blog

Cutting through the cliches

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. July 8, 2010

In times of adversity, friends and relatives often offer such time-honored phrases of encouragement as:

  • Just do your best.
  • Give it 110 percent.
  • Face the problem head on and everything will work out.

Unfortunately, these well-meaning suggestions often seem shallow — unless they're spoken by someone who has experienced real adversity.

I recently met a Gulf War veteran in his mid 20s who had lost the use of his right arm in a roadside explosion. After multiple surgeries and reconstructions, he regained some use of his right arm. He shared his experiences at a meeting of orthopedic surgeons and other rehabilitation specialists.

A member of the audience asked about the young man's long-term goals. He replied heroically that he wanted to regain enough function so that he could rejoin his unit in combat. When asked what he'd have to do to achieve his goal, he said with passion and conviction, "I will do whatever it takes."

What an incredibly powerful statement. There was no waffling. There was no hedging. "I will do whatever it takes."

As I face life's challenges — mostly minor inconveniences, let's be honest — I will think about that young man and his determination. Instead of whining and complaining, I will endeavor to follow his example and do whatever it takes.


Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

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Jul. 08, 2010