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  • Writer's pictureMegan Filoramo

Stop ignoring yourself

Ignore: refuse to take notice of or acknowledge; disregard intentionally; fail to consider (something significant).

We ignore things for a lot of reasons.

We ignore the alarm clock because we don’t want to get up.

We ignore the child’s 15th request for candy for breakfast because we are too exhausted to patiently explain again that it simply isn’t happening.

We ignore the attitude of the teenager or the coworker because we know acknowledging it will just be aggravating and get us nowhere.

We ignore the speed limit (just kidding).

We ignore the discomfort of working out because we want to feel strong.

We ignore the laundry because it’s laundry.

We ignore the noise around us as we read a good book.

We ignore our aching feet because it’s part of the job.

We ignore our episodic personal judgments of our patients because we are in this job to give care to everyone.

We ignore the fuel light in our car because it’s not a convenient time to stop.

We ignore the need to go to the bathroom because we are too busy. 

We ignore a text because we are disgruntled with that friendship or we just want to put off making a decision.

We ignore the need to go to bed because we have too much to do.

I’m sure you could add some more items. Some things we ignore for our own good and some things we ignore despite the negative consequences that ignoring will bring. Either way, we get quite good at ignoring things and in general it’s because we feel that either the thing being ignored is negative or paying attention to it would cause something negative.

All of that said, when it comes to other people, ignoring them is generally considered incredibly rude. It’s a way of dismissing them as unimportant. 

Most of us would agree that ignoring someone is not how we roll.

And yet…

Believe it or not, we ignore ourselves (even though we’re people).

Chances are, you aren’t even aware of this.

We ignore our need to have a few minutes of quiet to regroup after a stressful day. 

We ignore our need to rest because the house has to get cleaned before people come over.

We ignore our need to have some time to catch up on the things that are important to us when we say yes to going to something that we don’t want to do. 

We ignore our need to get outside because there is too much to get done.

We literally ignore our need to pee at work.

Would you tell someone else they can’t go to the bathroom when nature calls?

Would you ignore the request of a patient to rest after doing something difficult?

Would you tell your child that catching up on their things isn’t important and they should spend time doing what other people want?

So why do we ignore ourselves? We become so good at it that we don’t even notice it, it becomes second nature.

I see this with my patients as well, they ignore their needs or limitations for fear of upsetting the family or being judged by their friends (or themselves).

Are we much different?

It’s understandable that this happens. As pointed out at the beginning, there are many occasions that ignoring things can serve us. Ignoring ourselves is not one of those times.

Here’s the problem, continued ignoring of ourselves leads to emotional and physical exhaustion, and exhaustion is no one’s end goal. We can’t dismiss ourselves as unimportant and then expect to feel good.

If you are feeling this way, start to look for little ways that you may be ignoring yourself unintentionally, start looking for ways that you can acknowledge your importance and value.

Pee when you have to pee.

Nurturing yourself does not come at the expense of the care of someone else. We can do both. If we can take care of multiple patients or multiple family members, we can take care of ourselves AND others. Believing that it’s one or the other can keep us stuck.

It doesn’t have to be some herculean effort, it can be small if it’s thoughtful.

Little acts of kindness matter, even when directed at ourselves.


If you have found these strategies helpful and are looking for ways to support your team at work, reach out to find out about my Nursing Team Workshops at . Bringing change to our organizations starts with us.


Image Credit: "Day 1: So this is the new year" by theogeo is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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