Sometimes a patient will resist your efforts to show empathy.
Show empathy anyway.
Sometimes you will give of your heart, and people will call you weak and foolish.
Give of your heart anyway.Read More
I need help.
I'm currently in school for nursing. But seeing what I'm seeing, I'm not at all sure this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. But I can't figure out what else I would want to do either! How do you figure it out? How do you just pick something and be like 'this is what I was meant to do, this is what I LOVE to do'?????? Gahhhhhh. I feel like my life has no direction at the moment.
I hope you know you aren’t alone in asking these questions, and in wanting to know that you are taking actions that are going to make you happy. We all do at one point or another, because we want to make smart moves that lead us to happiness and the job of our dreams.
But here is the weird thing - finding your dream job is simply a choice. How do you pick the right thing? You pick a thing and decide that it is right! The heavens don’t open. A fairy godmother doesn’t appear in a puff of sparkles to wave her wand and make you happy. We don’t get a letter from our future selves to congratulate us on making such a good choice.
The very good news - and this really is the most amazing good news - is that all that happens is that we make the choice that we are happy. We decide that we love what we do and are happy with what we have. I certainly can’t tell you what you are going to love. Your boss can’t, your friends can’t, your mother can’t. You just decide that you love something or that you don’t. The choice does not happen outside of you.
For some strange quirk of humanity we simply LOVE to pretend that there is some romantic thing out there, one job that is just going to fill us up and float our boat and make us delirious with joy. But really, all that happens is that we do something, and then we decide that we made the right choice. And we choose to be happy about it.
Anyway, I say all this just to say this: you are perfectly normal. Nothing has gone wrong here. And what I would offer you is that going forward on your journey, if you want to be happy, stop waiting to be happy. Stop waiting for someone or something outside of you to validate your choices. Not because doing so is wrong, but just because, why wait to have something that you can have right now?
If you want to be a nurse, be a nurse! I promise you that you can be happy and satisfied and fulfilled being a nurse. You could also be all of those things doing something else. THERE IS NO WRONG ANSWER.
If you want to know if nursing is a right answer, ask yourself this: do you want nursing to be the right answer? If so, then great, all you have to do is decide that it is, and then work on dealing with all of the challenges that come up.
If you don’t, or if you aren’t sure, then ask yourself, why? What are you afraid of? What is stopping you from deciding to love it? Are you willing to work on overcoming those obstacles or do you want to want something easier? (I promise you nursing can be fulfilling and awesome, but I won’t promise it will ever be easy.)
Whatever your choice, make it with pride. This is your life, and you get to do whatever you want with it. I suggest loving it. I suggest being happy and having adventures and not wasting time and energy second guessing ourselves. Doubt is so boring! ;-)
Good luck. I know you will figure it out. I hope you have fun doing it.
Note: Questions are edited for privacy and clarity. I aim to be HIPAA compliant! ::wink:: If you have a question, you can SUBMIT IT HERE.
I just saw a movie called "Hector and the Search for Happiness" from a few years ago. A psychiatrist goes on a world-wide adventure to find happiness, has many incredible adventures, and boils his experience down to some meme-friendly catchphrases.
I found the movie delightful, but one "lesson" in particular though caught my attention.
We don't find wealth by avoiding paying our bills.
We don't find love simply by avoiding hate.
Avoiding some things may be a perfectly valid goal for your life. But remember that goal is not the same thing as finding its opposite.
If happiness is your goal, then look for happiness.
Focus on happiness.
Because that is how you will find it.
This week I'm talking about nurse humor.
As nurses, we sometimes get accused of using gallows humor.
To which most of us would probably reply, "Yep! We sure do!"
When things are at their worst, humor can be an important tool to break the tension and relieve the pressure.
I create and share a lot of memes on Facebook. Some are inspirational, but many are just trying to be a little funny so we can crack a smile in the face of so much stress, sadness and sometimes death.
When stress and sadness at work are the norm, laughter becomes a vital component of self care.
Stop the cycle of your sympathetic nervous system and reduce the amount of cortisol pumping into your body.
Don't forget to give yourself opportunities to laugh.
Watch a funny movie.
Tell your coworkers a stupid joke.
Giggle at a silly nursing meme.
Life is too short to miss those precious opportunities to laugh.
We coaches are always thinking about how to explain what exactly it is that we do. A very smart friend of mine recently shared her perspective on this. When she gets asked "What do you do?", she responds "Whatever it takes."
I absolutely love this response, mainly because I think we nurses respond the same way every day.
We have too many patients, with too many tasks, and too many distractions, and too many obstacles.
And yet, somehow, we find time to get it done.
Somehow, we find a way to comfort.
Somehow, we save lives and still find time to document the education we gave on medication side effects.
When things go wrong we work with what we have, and help each other out, and jury rig equipment to make it all work.
So when it comes to being a nurse, I know you understand "Whatever it takes".
What is your self care was not an optional activity? You know, IF you have time and IF you get around to it and IF someone else doesn't need you more.
What if the question was "What do you do to take care of yourself?"
Could you still answer "whatever it takes"?
Being a nurse is hard, and I know if you are still reading this I am preaching to the choir here. So if you don't want your nursing career to flame out in martyrdom and burnout, then you might want to consider how well you are building yourself up.
If you hate your job, make a change.
If you are sitting in your car in the parking lot until the last possible second because you are afraid to start your shift, something isn't right.
If you feel empty, find ways to fill yourself up. Go on a walk. Get a massage. Eat better. Sleep more. Play with a dog. All those things we know we "should" do, but never seem to make time for.
You make the choice to prioritize yourself and your well being. You make the choice to find the ways to fill yourself up so that you can continue to take care of your patients. You make the choice that you are worth it.
(Pro tip: You are.)
We are all different, and what you need to do is going to be unique to you. But if you are ready to feel better, then start doing it.
Thanksgiving, like most holidays, means something a little different to many nurses. Most of us will be working. We will probably miss the meal with our families, because even if we managed to get Thanksgiving day off, we probably couldn't get enough days off in a row over a holiday weekend to travel to see our loved ones.
So with minimal effort, we can come up with plenty of things to complain about. It is frustrating. We can feel left out. It isn't fair.
1. I'm grateful for the potluck we are inevitably going to have at work. Yes, Carol is going to bring that creepy salad she always makes, and Pat is going to beg us all for gluten-free dishes that don't taste very good, but hopefully Bernadette will make her special curry. And while we all say we want to try different kinds of pie, I know I'm going to be sad when the chocolate pie everyone said was boring gets finished before I have a chance to get a piece.
But I'm grateful for this experience. The chance to share a laugh and some food with my coworkers who, let's face it, are practically like any other (dysfunctional) family. Years from now I'm going to remember these meals with great fondness.
2. I'm grateful for the meal the facility gives us. OK, ok, so it isn't going to taste anything like Mom makes. But as easy as it can sometimes be to complain about administration, I do appreciate the gesture.
3. I'm grateful for my coworkers. Yeah, some of them are brats and stinkers and make bad jokes and lose their temper and don't communicate as well as I wish. (Though to be fair they probably say the same thing about me sometimes.) For better or worse, I spend a significant amount of my life at work, and these are the people who I'm sharing it with, these are the people who are there to witness my good days and my bad days and everything in between. I see them more than some of my own family members. And when things get hard, I know who has my back. When a life is on the line, I know who is gonna be there helping me do what needs to be done. I'm grateful for that.
4. I'm grateful for my patients. Yes, some of them are brats and stinkers and make bad jokes and lose their temper and don't communicate as well as I wish. But when I get to hold someone's hand, when I get a whispered "thank you", when I know I saved a life even though the patient doesn't - it is all worth it.
5. I'm grateful that you are a nurse. Because odds are someday I will find myself in a hospital, and when I do I am quite certain I will rely on my nurses to take care of me. I sincerely hope that day is a long ways off, but when it comes, I hope I get taken care of by someone like you.
6. I'm grateful that I'm a nurse. This job is hard. My feet hurt, and my bladder is permanently distended, and I hear the IV pumps beeping in my sleep. I take the blame, I fix other people's mistakes, I go above and beyond, I mourn the patients I've lost, and I'm not told I'm appreciated nearly enough considering what I do.
And yet I'm still grateful. I had my choice of careers. Nursing wasn't the easy default option. No one accidentally becomes a nurse. I chose it on purpose, because I felt I could make a difference.
And even on my hardest day, even when we are understaffed and the computers crash and the patients are mean - I know that just by being there I am making a difference.
I matter. When I look at what I do, I know this to be true.
I am a helper.
Things would be worse if I wasn't there.
I take pride in that knowledge. And I am grateful I have the opportunity to help so many people.
I'd feel silly calling myself a hero. But I will say that I'm a badass. All nurses are.
It's Thanksgiving. What are you grateful for? Look around and start noticing. Are you grateful for the the degrees and credentials you have earned? Are you grateful for the opportunity to be part of the nation's most trusted profession? Heck, are you grateful for the paycheck and the 401(k)?
Are you grateful to be employed? Are you grateful for the employment options you have as a nurse? Are you grateful that your friends and family trust you so much they want to show you every time they get a rash?
Are you grateful that you know better than to check your blood sugar after you eat lunch? Are you grateful that you know you can't get the flu from the flu shot? Are you grateful that you get to be deliciously annoyed and self-righteous every time a character on TV shocks asystole?
Make your list, whatever it is. Appreciating and being grateful for what we have is a direct path to happiness. And you, my nurse friend, deserve to be happy.
How many hours of TV do you watch a day?
How long do you spend on social media every day?
How much time do you spend consuming "news" programs and content?
Most of us would have very little idea.
And yet time is the most precious commodity we have. Why aren't we more deliberate with how we spend it?
Are the things we are spending it on giving us anything worthwhile in return?
Pay attention to the media you are consuming. Ask yourself these questions:
Is the content empowering you to have the life and experience you want to have?
What is the ratio of truth vs the perspective you want to hear?
What are they selling? Is it something you want to buy?
TV, social networks, and websites aren't inherently bad. Just make sure that the exchange you are making - your time and money and attention in trade for their content - is a trade that works out in your favor.
Consume your media with purpose. Don't just binge on it.
Nurses love helping our patients create goals for themselves.
They will get out of bed and walk twice a day. They will use the incentive spirometer ten times an hour. They will limit their sugar and salt intake.
But what about you? What is your goal when it comes to your job?
It is a choice, that you make, based on a variety of factors that you decide are important.
We can't control all aspects of our job, but we can control what we are looking for, and what we are working towards.
What are you working towards?
Decide what you want.
Start looking at what is getting in the way of you getting what you want.
Are there things you can change?
Would it be helpful to shift your focus?
Have you been doing everything you can to get what you want?
Help yourself get what you want. What will it take? What can you do? Put yourself in control.
We all belong to tribes.
Our race. Our sex. Our marital status. Our religious and political affiliation.
And I'm guessing most of you reading this belong to the tribe of nurses and nursing students.
Some of those students got kicked out of the tribe recently when their school closed down, and they were left with nothing.
Nurses utilize their resources. If you are in pain, find someone to help. Find someone to listen. We are all around you. Friends, family, Facebook groups, coaches, therapists, doctors. If you are angry and need to vent, there is someone to help you. If you are confused about what to do next, there is someone to help you. If you are struggling to function, there is someone to help you.
Do not be a martyr. Get the help you need, because that is what nurses do.
Do not make permanent decisions based on temporary feelings.
So life has thrown you a curveball. (Perhaps like having your nursing school close down halfway through your last semester.)
You feel angry.
You feel helpless.
You don't know what to do next.
This can be a challenge, even for us life coaches.
The truth though is that this is a part of the human experience. Things happen. To all of us.
We can't control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond.
If you are finding yourself have a lot of conversations about what "should" have happened, notice it. Ask yourself if that conversation is helping you move forward, or if it is keeping you anchored in and arguing with the past.
If you are tempted to give up, or to change course dramatically, ask yourself why. If you are using updated information to make an even better choice for your future, that is one thing. But notice if you are punishing yourself under the guise of punishing someone else. (Which is also called cutting off your nose to spite your face.)
If this is a test the universe is giving you, why don't you just go ahead and ace it? Show it what you're made of.
We nurses ask a lot of questions.
"When was the last time you took this medication?"
"When was the last time you smoked?"
"When was the last time you pooped?"
But sometimes we need to ask ourselves questions.
To be aware of what we want and, importantly, what we are going to do about it.
Pay attention to the things you say you want. Are you waiting for them? Do you keep putting them off? Are you waiting for someone else to change, or for the "right time"?
And then ask yourself: Do you want to be the kind of person who wants that goal, or do you want to be the person who achieved it?
Do you think of yourself as a person who would use shame as a weapon?
In this video I talked about how sometimes we try to mask our shame in humor.
Sometimes we don't even bother.
Have you ever heard had a bully ask you "How did you even get through nursing school?"
Have you ever said "You better get a thicker skin if you want to work here."
How about the exasperated (and totally unhelpful) "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING???"
These are all shame-based comments. They are designed to hurt the person we are talking to.
You may agree with my examples, you may not. If you want to find exceptions for how these comments could be totally innocent, I'm sure you can find them. I encourage you, however, to consider what I am saying.
Be aware of your words. Be aware of your intent. You get to decide what is right and wrong for you, but make it be a choice, not an afterthought. Not something you get defensive about afterwards. Decide who the person is that you want to be, and make the things you do support that vision.
We all make mistakes. Even me! I've been called out for some of the jokes I've shared on the Facebook page, for reasons I hadn't even considered before I shared them. And that's ok. I don't have to go on a rant about how people are "just too sensitive these days", because true or not, that doesn't help me be the person I want to be.
Start getting clear about where you are headed in life, because if you can master that, magical things start to happen.
I have been a LPN for 36 years. I have been earning my pre-reqs at a local community college. My problem. I cannot seem to get a grip on my A&P class. I've failed twice. I've had to drop twice. I'm always the oldest student in my class. I've had health issues the past 2 years (cancer). I really want my RN. I I've never felt so discouraged and unsure of myself. How can I pass this class without the nervousness?
Firstly, I want to give you credit for how well you are asking your question. When we get challenged, often in our frustration we end up asking questions with a negative slant. “Why is this so hard” or “Why am I having so much trouble with this” or “Why does this keep happening to me”. Instead you asked a positive question “How can I pass this class?” and then you made it even better by adding what I think is a really powerful qualifier at the end - “How can I pass this class without the nervousness?” Well done, Rose, well done.
The great thing is that once we start asking questions, our brains will start looking for answers. If you ask a negative questions, "Why is this so hard for me?", then your brain is going to find answers to that. And if you ask a positive, solution-oriented question (like you have), it gives your brain permission to get creative and start figuring it out.
So you are totally on the right track, we just need to keep going until we find an answer.
Now, unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) I’m not a mind-reader, and I’m not sure what the answer is that is going to be the most helpful for you. All I can do is offer a brainstorm of guesses to get your brain going, and it will be up to you to evaluate them as possible solutions or to let them spark your own creative ideas. But since we have clearly identified your goal - passing the class without being nervous - this process becomes much less emotionally fraught and much more focused on finding a practical strategy that will work for you.
So what do you think it will take? Studying more, maybe with set hours every week? Finding a study group? Do you learn better writing things out or talking them out? I remember I had an anatomy coloring book that really helped me remember things. Could you talk with the instructor and get their advice? (They are going to be able to tell you exactly what they expect of you.) I always learn best by teaching, do you have a friend or a dog or maybe a photo of your friend’s dog that you could explain everything to after you study? What if you took fewer classes this semester so you could focus getting over this block? There is no denying it is a lot of information, but in your experience how do you best learn? What will it take for you to be able to learn and retain all of that information?
Let’s take it one step further - what would it take for you to be at the top of the class? How hard would you have to work to get 100% on everything the entire semester, and how willing are you to work that hard? That may not ultimately really be your goal, nor does it need to be. But ask yourself, what would it take? If you can answer that question, then it should be easy to dial it back a little if your real goal is a little less ambitious. Figure out what you need to do so that passing that class becomes inevitable. It will take effort, but think how good it will feel when it is done. If this is something you really want, then make sure that passing the class this time is not optional. Make it the priority, and make it happen.
But just to address it a little, here is what I’ve found about the emotions we don’t want to feel. If you focus on getting the nervousness to go away, to try to squelch it or ignore it or bottle it up, it will probably only get worse. That's just how our brains work. And why is being nervous so bad? It is a pretty normal and common feeling. What if it is ok to be nervous sometimes? What if you acknowledge that it is there, doing it’s thing, and decide that it’s ok? If you think it is a problem, it is going to be a distraction. But if you just let it be, knowing it is a normal part of the human experience, meanwhile focusing on getting prepared for the classwork, I bet the nervousness is going to abate without you really having to do anything about it.
I know you can do this. And, more importantly, it seems so do you. After all you’ve been through, you are still here, you are still trying to make it work. You haven’t given up because deep down you know you can do it. Like most nurses, you are optimist at heart, which is a pretty badass superpower to have. You know the goal, so get clear on your strategy to learn what you need to learn. And you are gonna pass this class, feeling proud and strong and empowered.
Thank you for the question, I hope this helps!
Note: Questions are edited for privacy and clarity. I aim to be HIPAA compliant! ::wink:: If you have a question you can SUBMIT IT HERE.
What would your life be like if you never had to feel offended?
You could still not like certain things or behaviors, and could still take steps to protect yourselves from them, but you wouldn't have to feel bad about it in the process.
Other people could do whatever they wanted and it wouldn't MAKE you feel anything. (Pro tip: People can do whatever they want already. The only thing that would change would be how you felt about it.)
Notice what feeling "offended" feels like. Do you like feeling that way? When you feel that way, does it help you get the things that you want? Does feeling that way give you the experience you want to have?
If a patient disrespects you, does feeling offended by it make your day better or worse? Does feeling offended change the patient's behavior? Does it help you love your job?
What you feel is your choice. I'd suggest making the choice that helps you be the person you want to be.
Think about the things you want. The goals you want to achieve. The changes you want to make in your life. The results you would like to enjoy.
When you think about doing and getting those things, do you see them as optional? Like, maybe you will do it today, and maybe you will wait until, you know, tomorrow. Or maybe the next day. When it's warmer. At the beginning of the month. After the holiday. When it warms up.
Think about a goal you want. Think about the things you will need to do to achieve that goal. Now just make doing those things not optional. No matter how hard or annoying or boring they might be, decide right now that you are going to do them. There is no need to struggle every day questioning whether you are going to do it or not, because now you know that you are just going to do it. And when that dark voice in the back of your head starts complaining, and starts wanting to be lazy, and finds all sorts of excuses why you really are justified to procrastinate, just smile and reply "This is not optional."
One of the cornerstones of what I teach is how our thoughts create our world and lead us directly to the results that we get. If that doesn't make sense on its own, don't worry, because today I'm going to talk about a very specific example to illustrate what I mean.
Notice the little things that bug you. See if you can find the thought that is causing you to be bugged. Is that thought (and the feeling that goes with it) helping you have the life that you want? If so, then no worries, it is perfectly fine to be irritated if we want to be. But if we don't, then we need to see if we can a different perspective and a different thought that will instead give us the feelings and the outcomes that we want to have in our lives.
What do you do when your work environment becomes toxic? I was so excited when I got hired and thought I would stay here forever, but now my other friends are telling me I should just leave.
Usually when I get asked this question, what people are hoping I will say is either to "Quit as fast as you can and run!" or "Here is a checklist of things you can do to change the bad behaviors of others so you can stay." I understand why people expect that - we are nurses, and we want to jump right to the solution. But as a life coach, before we start brainstorming our strategy I'd rather take the time to make sure we are solving the right problem.
So I want to ask you a question Kaitlyn. What it is you most want to get out of your job? This question is important for any of us to answer, but it is especially critical here. What is most important to you? Do you want to like your job? Do you like where you are and so want to do the work to rise above the drama and enjoy it no matter what anyone else does? Or do you not really care, or want to focus your energy elsewhere in your life and so you just want an easy-to-like job? Think about this. There isn't a right or a wrong answer here, so be honest.
Because once you answer this question, then it becomes a lot easier to be able to figure out what you want to do about it to get the result you want. We can't control whether someone else decides to bring negativity and drama to the workplace or not. We can't force people to be nice, or to communicate better. What we can do is choose how we want to react to it, and what we want to do to protect ourselves.
This is important, because if you otherwise like your job and want to stay, then letting yourself get chased off is going to be frustrating. If you don't want to spend any energy dealing with the troublemakers, then staying might be hard. (Though, really, there are troublemakers everywhere.)
If you decide what you want most is to stay, then you can start looking at your options to empower yourself to enjoy your job, no matter what others do. If you decide you want to get away from the disfunction, then instead of feeling chased off you can feel great about looking for something better.
While you are figuring that out, remember to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Hot baths, good food, exercise, time spent with friends and family, pottery class, whatever it is. Make sure you are filling yourself up so that work doesn't start to drain more than you have to give. Everything gets harder when we are empty inside.
It is possible to find a good way to stay, just as it is possible to find a good way to leave. So make the choice, decide which result is the one you most want, and the rest will get a lot clearer.
Thanks for your question, and have a great day!
Note: Questions are edited for privacy and clarity. I aim to be HIPAA compliant! ::wink:: If you have a question you can SUBMIT IT HERE.
This isn't what I thought I was going to be talking about this week. But sometimes when things happen, the best strategy is to acknowledge and deal with them.
A lot of us are having some pretty powerful feelings this week. I just want to remind you that those feelings are normal, and can be part of how you want to experience what happens in the world. None of your feelings are "wrong".
But sometimes we need to be reminded that we don't have to be victims to those feelings. That there are things we can do to still honor them and still take the actions we want to take, but without having to feel so miserable about it. Watch this episode for more information.
If you are feeling empty, practice self care and fill yourself back up. If you are feeling hopeless, look for the helpers. If you are feeling tormented, help. These feelings aren't wrong, but they are also not the end. They are just the beginning.
Take care of yourself.
"I'll be happy as soon as I finish this degree."
"I'll be happy after I get a new job."
"I'll be happy as soon as I get married."
If you have ever found yourself saying something like this, where you postpone your happiness until after some goal has been reached, you may have Destination Addiction. Watch the video to see why this could be a big stumbling block for you.
Start paying attention to see where you have been telling yourself that you have to wait to be happy. Goals are rad, and I very much hope that you have them. And if you are using them to beat yourself up, then you are making things much harder than they need to be. Give yourself credit for having the goal. And remember that happiness is a choice you can make today.
This week we have another language hack for your consideration. When you say that you "have to" do something, what do you really mean? How accurate are your words? More than that, how do they make you feel? For me, thinking I "have to" do something makes me feel irritated that I have to do that thing. I postpone. I procrastinate. I find all sorts of reasons to do other things first.
But do my words actually reflect the truth?
And more than that, are they giving me the result that I would want to have?
Pay attention to how you talk about the things that you "have to" do. Do you REALLY have to do it? Or can you find a more compelling reason of why you WANT to do it? This is really great practice of something I talk a lot about with my clients, of thinking on purpose. Not only will doing it here likely yield much better results, but the skill of deliberate thinking will serve you in every aspect of your life.
Robb Hillman Coaching is focused on helping nurses and other healthcare professionals learn, cultivate and optimize their self care practices, providing 1:1 coaching to help nurses create the extraordinary lives of fulfillment and purpose they both want and deserve.
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