Healing Reflections: "Controlling Mindset" by Bob Peck, M.D.

Feb 13, 2021 | Hannah Schlotthauer, Administrative Assistant | @schlohan

"Controlling Mindset"
Story by: Bob Peck, M.D. | Mayo Clinic Health System

After learning that a person tested positive for COVID-19 in my parent’s hometown, I became acutely aware that this pandemic posed a mortal threat to my colleagues, friends, family and to me. As I thought about the real chances of myself or someone I love dying from this dreadful disease, I began to feel panic. I knew I needed to get a grip on this, and I turned to something that executive coaches use in their work with clients. It is called “creating a well-formed outcome.”
A well-formed outcome has three main parts. State what you wish to accomplish in positive terms, focus on steps that you can control or influence and finally, have a clear sense of what success looks like.
Following the principle of stating a positive outcome, I shifted my thinking from not wanting others or myself to die to wanting to live a life where I show love, caring and kindness to all, especially to friends and family. With this shift to a positive statement, my fear and panic subsided.
I used the idea of finding efforts under my own control and focused on building resilience. A key piece of my resilience was to courageously face the reality that this pandemic was likely going to be here for 18 months. I began to research what I needed to do to stay well, and I began to do all those things. I further strengthened my resilience by imagining a brighter future that included a joyful reunion with my parents post-pandemic. My parents are 87 years old, and as of today—February 10, 2021—they are healthy, doing well and both have been vaccinated.
Finally, I focused on what success looks like. In addition to the reunion, I also imagined myself making more frequent phone calls with close family while also seeking to rebuild connections with others who have gotten more distant over the years. I imagined having these calls and feeling more closely connected with these people who lived far away. My parents live in small town called Oxford, Connecticut.
Since applying this “well-formed outcome” concept, I have been able to keep fear and panic in check and have made consistent efforts to strengthen my relationships with my family. I am still hopeful that I will visit my parents this summer.


Art by: Halle Buhr | Menomonie, WI

Halle Buhr is 17 years old and a junior at Menomonie High School. After graduation she hopes to attend UW-Milwaukee to pursue the study of Art Education. Art has been a big part of her life since she was young, and she wants to make a difference in people's lives, which she believes can be achieved through both art and education.
After reading the story of Dr. Peck’s COVID experience, I wanted my painting to focus on mindset and feeling. In the beginning of his story, he mentions a lot about death and the fears that come along with the pandemic. Just like Dr. Peck, I also had this experience of fear and worrying about death, whether it be myself or anyone in my family.
Some words that inspired the left side of the painting were mortal threat, panic, dreadful, and death. I wanted the silhouette on the left to have a storm going on inside their head to show the panic and craziness of thoughts in their head. As the faces transition, the colors become cooler-toned and calming compared to dark and twisty. As the story transitioned, he talked about the thought of changing his mindset to think more positively and controlling his thoughts. The middle silhouette has more of a rainy and cloudy mindset. In the story he mentions words like focus, control, influence, and building resilience with yourself. This is the transition into the third part of the thought process, which is more of a happy and cheerful mentality. Coming to terms with the pandemic was a hard thing for all of us, because as humans, we don’t love the idea of change in our lives. The third silhouette represents this idea of coming to terms, and the words that inspired this are strength, joyful, healthy, and facing reality. The bright colors inside the face are representing this joy in someone’s mindset that we can conform to change and re-wire our mindsets when it comes to coming to terms with the pandemic.


For more information about the Healing Reflections gallery or to get involved with the project, contact Sara Martinek.

To discuss the latest on Post-COVID Syndrome, head over to the Post-COVID Recovery discussion group.

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Post-COVID Recovery blog.

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