Hope and the Triage Moment

triageMany of us learned the meaning of the word “triage” because we watched M*A*S*H. Every week, the doctors and nurses on our favorite TV show worked through the triage episode. Some patients could wait a while. Others were taken immediately to surgery while several unfortunates received last rites from Father Mulcahy.

The working definition of “triage” means “to assign the degree of urgency to a wounded or ill patient.” Even in today’s healthcare environment, triage nurses and doctors determine the priority of working with a patient, especially during crises.

Recently, I heard a phrase which caused me to stop and ponder its impact: Triage your worry bucket.

Most of us deal with one situation or another. Many of my friends are caring for an elderly parent or two while supporting a kid or two in college. Scores of people I know struggle with medical issues while others are trying to pay off debt and/or college loans.

All it takes is five minutes watching the news on any channel to know we are in serious trouble.

But what can we do about it? Triage the worry bucket.

Decide which issue is most urgent and deal with it first. Put everything else in the waiting room until you’re ready to bring it front and center. By that time, those secondary issues may have dissipated or won’t seem that important.

Most of the national and international issues are out of my control. I cannot do anything about them other than to educate myself so I’ll know how to vote in 2020.

My mother’s Alzheimer’s journey does not warrant any fresh worry. It is what it is. I’ve already worked through most of the grief. Only time will determine how it ends.

My son is an adult, and he makes his own choices. I’ve done my best to raise him, but I cannot control anything he does. So far, he’s being wise. No worries.

Health issues or crisis events can be troubling, depending on what happens. But I cannot worry today about what may or may not become a struggle during the next decade. I’ll triage that worry bucket when the time comes.

So what is on the priority list for my triage bucket? Recently, digestive issues. So I’m working with a doctor, taking my meds and trying to set boundaries around my food choices. Unfortunately, chocolate is NOT on the list.

A possible car purchase is on the horizon. No emergency, thankfully. Just trying to be conscious of the best deal and find something that will last for a while.

The problem escalates when our worry buckets overflow. We cannot make effective decisions when we’re overwhelmed.

But if we purposefully triage the worries and only allow the most urgent struggles to rise to the top, we can deal with whatever life hands us.

I often tell my Coaching clients to take “One microstep at a time.” The same holds true for the crises that pepper our lives.

So triage your worry bucket and live in the hope that one day, all your worries will cease.

©2019 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

A life of faith helps defeat the overwhelming worry bucket. Check out Uploading Faith: What It Means to Believe.

4 thoughts on “Hope and the Triage Moment

  1. Hope you feel better soon, RJ. Health issues definitely crowd many people’s worry buckets. Just a few thoughts to share regarding our news: Recently I heard a very wise man speak about it. I’ll paraphrase what he said. “If the news is too upsetting for you and makes you think ill of others, take a break for a day or two. It will still be there. In the meantime you will have gained the perspective of distance.” Some other things to bear in mind: the news media has to keep their TV ratings up. Just like every other television show they have to meet their bottom dollar. Where does the money trail lead? Who benefits from the perspective or slant or spin they bring to it? We also need to ask ourselves: why do they hammer certain subjects, but don’t tell us about other happenings around the world? Most of the major news outlets are simply reiterating what they take from the AP (Associated Press). Often they use the exact wording found on the AP. So it is clear they are not actually digging for the facts themselves. For international news, international ministry websites sometimes give the most accurate reporting. For me, I have found it helpful to analyze it all rather than emotionalize it. Then, as a Christian, I can turn to God for a better perspective of the world and a more loving attitude to the people around me.

    • Thanks SuZan. I am feeling much better. As for the news, I realize we all listen and perceive with our personal filters. I am just grateful we have the freedom to write and report the news, then make up our own minds as to how to receive it.

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