Do you know who's the hardest person to stand up to?
I feel like we advocate for a lot of people. After all, it’s one of the core values of being a nurse (and in my opinion, one of the core values of being a good human being.) We advocate for our patients even when it is uncomfortable, because we believe it is worth it, we believe it is important, we believe we can make a difference.
For many of us, it is harder to advocate for ourselves, not just with administration but in our day to day relationships. I’ve heard it said time and time again. We will advocate for anyone else but can’t seem to do the same for ourselves. We get ourselves worked up just thinking about talking to a coworker about something that was upsetting or even asking for clarification of things.
It’s easy to spin out about things. It’s like the newsreel that runs at the bottom of the TV screen during a show. There we are, living the show that is our daily life, and in the background, along the bottom of our screen, are all the negative stories that we have.
Running as a constant flow:
They are going to get mad if I say something.
It’s not going to work.
I don’t really know how.
They will dismiss how I feel as stupid.
It will be embarrassing.
I should be able to do this on my own.
Even if I deal with this it won’t make any difference.
I have no control over this anyway.
They don’t respect me or this wouldn’t be happening.
I don’t have time to do what I need to.
Of course, this isn’t the case for everyone. The NP I work with is amazing at dealing with things as they come up with zero percent personal drama...truly inspiring. But for those of us who can relate, you know exactly what I am talking about.
The crazy thing is, in an effort to prevent feeling uncomfortable, we stay in the powerless spinning stage, just feeling terrible.
And like any news story, our reel is just one point of view. These storylines might not even be true.
So we choose 100% discomfort (by avoidance) instead of the 50/50 POSSIBILITY of discomfort.
You don’t have to be a math genius to see the pointlessness of this.
DON’T BELIEVE THE NEWS YOU MAKE UP IN YOUR HEAD!
So who is the hardest person to stand up to? Who is the person that is hardest to advocate to?
You have to advocate for yourself, to yourself. Stand up to your own bullshit.
The newsreels aren’t going to support the thoughts:
This person (me) is important.
I can make a difference for her.
It’s worth it. I will do whatever it takes for her to succeed.
We can’t expect other people to do this FOR us, especially if we aren’t willing to do it for ourselves.
It’s the self-efficacy that we stress with our patients. We tirelessly show them how to care for themselves, how to learn what they need to do.
AND WE ARE NICE ABOUT IT.
We don’t judge them when they don’t get it right the first time.
What if we could borrow something from the practice of meditation and take on the role of “the watcher”? (not in a creepy way, in more of a self-aware way.)
Imagine yourself as one of your patients. What would you tell yourself? How would you advocate for you? How would you cheerlead your attempts as you tried to learn and grow? How would you celebrate the things that you ARE doing right? How would you support yourself? How would you shut it down when the frustration kept pushing through?
Would you believe the story that you don’t have time or would you try and poke some holes in that and brainstorm ways to make it work?
Would you believe that growth and change is impossible or would you look for the one thing you could do right now to take a step in the right direction?
Would you allow yourself to believe that the pain of staying the same is less than the pain of change?
I know for a fact that you wouldn’t, no matter what kind of nurse you are. You know how I can be so sure? Because that’s what makes nurses nurses.
Sure there are nurses who can calculate a drip rate in their heads and those who have to write it down and double check and ask a friend for help. There are nurses who manage their time like no other with time to spare and those who struggle to get everything done, meds passed and charting completed and not be there 2 hours after their shift ends. There are nurses who can single handedly move someone 3 times their weight while others need help to pull someone up.
There are all sorts of extremes in nursing.
But one of the things ALL nurses have in common is that we want to CARE FOR THE PATIENT. No matter what other skills we do or don’t have, that skill is one that can and does come through, day after day after day.
So I will ask you again, how can you advocate for yourself, to yourself, today?
I am advocating for you right now. I know you can do it. I have zero doubt.
How can you be a nurse for YOU?
You can make a difference in a very important person’s life, your own.
(Isn’t that exciting?)
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