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Last spring we were knee-deep in the hustle and bustle of my third virtual event, the RejuveNation Collaboration. A budding theme emerged in each of the webinars. I continued to hear:

I know that taking care of myself is important. It should be a priority. And then I just don’t do it.”

We’d be on the live calls- myself, my guest speaker and the participants. I’d stop right then and there, inquiring: “So what is that? How come we do this?

Each time I’d ask I was met with a familiar silence. It was as if everyone was stumped. After the event was over, “Why does this happen?” echoed in my brain.

That summer, in response to this trend, I created a survey. I had my own budding ideas of what I thought was happening, yet I needed to search and listen to what others had to say.

The response:

  • “I pretty much lost my health and had to severely reduce my work status or risk disciplinary action for absenteeism.”
  • “Once I found myself at a spiritual bottom I knew I needed to ask for help.”
  • “The many years of not doing so, has made the many years ahead, physically more painful & less enjoyable!”
  • “My health crashed out on me after a particularly grueling period at work.”
  • ” I think a lot of us are enablers; we take care of ourselves last.”
  • “The profession as a whole has a culture that values self sacrifice over self care.”
  • “My career created a painful divorce, my relationships suffered as I burned many bridges of trust.”

My inclinations were confirmed: nurses seem to be addicted to caring.

I’ve written another blog post on this topic which received a lot of feedback, where I asked if it was the nurse inside of us or the nursing profession as a whole that affected our capacity to care.

We care so much: for our patients, our colleagues, our organizations, our providers, our families and friends, our neighborhoods and communities. The list goes on and on.

Yet where is the care for self?

Hearing the feedback created this notion that we are addicted to taking care of others. From burning bridges to finding ourselves at our wits end with nothing else to do but change our life patterns or die- the very things that addicts struggle with on the way through recovery. (I know from both familial & professional experience).

Is nursing so different from these struggles encountered during addictions?

You may or may not agree, and that is totally OK. I just want to present the themes I heard and found in my conversations, open-ended surveys and focus groups.

And if you don’t agree, I invite you to approach the subject with an open mind. Just allowing yourself to question and wonder invites opportunity for growth and change.

Suzuki said, “If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Now that we have this new information to ponder, how can it help us? What can we do to learn, grow, heal and change?

Our profession overall is in need of some major shifts.

Conditions have been created that are not conducive to healing environments. Nurses can’t find the time to get a break. We’re pressured to stay late, work over and drain ourselves from the joy of the job. Patient safety and the quality of the care we feel we’re able to provide are compromised.

Instead of staying beaten down with burden, it’s time for a change.

Let’s lift the profession of nursing up: one nurse at a time.

Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” – Steve Maraboli

So what do we have power over?

Our thoughts. Our minds. Our feelings, our words. We can only change our external experience by shifting our inner landscapes, connecting to the nurse within.

Lately I’m not even sure of my stance on addictions. The addictions model states that there is something wrong with us and by coming together to focus on the problem we can recover from it. In that very model, again the focus is on the problem.

The more we attend to the problems the more we create them.

Let’s focus on solutions.

Look for the good in nursing. Find what you are grateful for in your role. Lift your own self up in order to empower the entire profession.

Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi

I’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts on this topic? Where do you agree or disagree? Go ahead and leave a comment below. I also invite you to begin with this inner work, this process of self-empowerment. Join us this Nurse’s Week as we reconnect with the Spirit of Nursing care.

Special Note: This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. If you are interested in participating find out more details and sign up here. And thank you to Annette Tersigni, founder of YogaNursing® is the host for this round.

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