Why Negativity Continues to Exist in Nursing

by | Sep 26, 2016 | 23 comments

Why Negativity Continues to Exist in NursingNegativity in Nursing

OK. I am about to give up!

On Instagram, I follow all of these nursing brands. And I have about had it. Now, I know it is meant to be nursing humor and all, but come on. Haven’t we seen enough photo shopped images of people complaining about holding their pee?

I am constantly reading posts that refer to:

  • How nurses never get breaks
  • How nurses have to hold their bladders the entire work day
  • How nurses can’t get enough staff to work

The list goes on and on. And on.

Again, I have a sense of humor. In fact, I like to laugh. A LOT. Yet, to me, this type of ‘humor’ is just not funny.

Have You Ever Heard of Gravity?

OK, so you have heard of the law of gravity, right? How if you throw something up in the air, it will come back down? Or if you are going to jump out of an airplane, you better have a working parachute if you want to live. The law of gravity is a universal law. It is working whether we think of it or not. It is working all of the time. And it is working even if you say, “Hey… I don’t believe in that law!”

Well, in addition to the law of gravity, there are other laws. Laws of chemistry, physics, and mathematics. There are also relational laws that most humans abide by and accept, such as the Golden Rule. And what about traffic laws? I was amazed the other day as my husband and I pulled up to a very busy- I mean EXTREMELY busy- four way stop sign. And guess what? Each human being behind the driver wheel was taking turns, letting each other go in a certain flow. It’s just a law!

Like Attracts Like

Now, I don’t mean to scare you away- but there are also universal laws that relate to energy. In scientific terms: ‘quantum physics’. In layman’s terms: laws of attraction.

This law of attraction is like any other law. It is working whether you are thinking about it or not. It works even if you don’t believe in it. It is working all of the time, in every person’s life, at any point in existence.

Great leaders such as Andrew Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Deepak Chopra, and Wayne Dyer have studied this law.

Even Oprah Winfrey said: “What you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.”

But Is It Real?

Sure, critics out there bash the law of attraction and other quantum physics principles as ‘wishful thinking nonsense’. And certainly the popularization of the movie, ‘The Secret’, has not helped those analytical minds out there that need scientific proof that this law exists.

According to this article on Huffington Post, there is research being done using brain imaging that upholds the notion that like attracts like. For example, the article describes how when we focus on a certain feeling such as ‘pain’, it can actually increase that feeling.

So What Does this Mean for Nursing?

Well, for one- we need to cut out the crap (excuse my language) that puts down the profession of nursing. All of those posts, images, and memes- while they are meant to be comical- that degrade the nursing profession are doing much more harm than good.

When we focus on what we do not have, we get more of it. So- if we talk all of the time about how nurses never get breaks and do not have time to use the bathroom, guess what? That is JUST what we are going to get more of!

When we talk about how we do not have enough staffing or how there is no money in the budget for a proposed program- Poof!! The law of attraction states “Your wish is my command”.

What nurses and the profession of nursing needs to do is shift from a perspective of lack to one of abundance. Shift from focusing on what we don’t have to what we actually do have. There are nursing units, departments, and entire organizations out there that are thriving! Guess what? We can learn from these groups.

Appreciative Inquiry Can Be One Tool

Not sure how to do this? Worried that your habits are too ingrained to change? First off- take a deep breath. You are not alone. In fact, it is totally normal to focus on the negative. It is actually a coping mechanism passed on throughout humanity to protect us from danger.

However, you are also right. To change this behavior may take time, effort, energy, and a whole lot of patience.

You are in luck. There are many tools and strategies out there to help you. One that I like a lot is Appreciative Inquiry. And this may be well accepted in the nursing profession because this framework was developed as an organizational development tool to help teams make progress and reach goals.

Using Appreciative Inquiry can help you shift your thoughts from focusing on what does not work to looking for and paying attention to what could work.

Let’s Make A Shift in Nursing

So we need each and every nurse to get on board with this. Make the shift inside of your own head from paying attention to what is wrong to focusing on what is right. Then as you do, you will role model this behavior for others. As others do, it will become a team approach. As the entire team gets on board, then the workplace will start to be a great place to go!

What else? What comes to mind when you think about the profession of nursing and its tendency to pay attention to lack? What can you do today to begin to shift the consciousness of the entire nursing profession? Share below and thanks for reading!

Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RNAbout the Author: Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the bestselling author of ‘Nursing from Within’, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver. Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.






  1. Angelica

    Very thought provoking!! I enjoyed your positivity! I agree, law of attraction works!

    • Elizabeth

      Wonderful to hear, thanks so much Angelica!

  2. Timothy Aurelio

    What movie “the secret” are you referring to? There are many movies with that title. Can you please tell us the year of the movie, Director perhaps?
    Tha Thanks for opening up this argument, you are absolutely on point and I personally, will begin to shed positive energy at my job as an Addictions Nurse.

      • Mary Lou Hoffmann

        Good article. Unable to see your reply to identify the movie.

        • Elizabeth

          Just hover over the blank space. Since it is a hyperlink, it’s white! Sorry!!

  3. Kathleen Coughlin RN BSN

    Excellent Article! Thank you so much as like does attract like . We create our own environment from the mindset we bring to work. We come from a frame of reference that is either lack of abundance or feelings of gratefulness. Let’s all look inside ourselves and think @ the attitude we express at work and how to create a feeling of harmony and abundance. Enjoy and praise your differences. Compliment each other. It can be “infectious”!!

    • Elizabeth

      Thanks a bunch, Kathleen! Appreciate your comments and additional insights. So glad you enjoyed the article.

  4. Lori Johnson

    Excellent article. We all need a reminder now and then that we alone are in control of our reality.
    Our hospital just completed a four day Magnet site appraisal for our first redesignation as a Magnet facility. The atmosphere that resulted from hundreds of nurses highlighting the outstanding work of our nurses and interprofessional teams was truly uplifting and contagious.
    Yes, we all choose whether to focus on the negative or the positive and the laws of attraction ensure that we each receive what we acknowledge to be our Truth. Thanks for taking the time to put it out there for us!
    Love and light to all.

    • Elizabeth

      Perfect example, Lori! Thanks for sharing!!

  5. Carmen Davailus Buck

    Great article! There are plenty of both positive and negative energies out there. Seeing and focusing on the positive is a choice. Negative group thought can cause such a nasty virus. Positivity, while it seems to take a bit longer, can create a more healing environment. That’s my experience. I agree that a sense of gratitude is one of the first steps toward acknowledging the greatness around us. Yes, there will always be room for improvement, but it’s our thoughts that create our reality. Align the thoughts with gratitude, clear intention and kindness (toward yourself and others.) You can work toward change and still be grateful for all you have. This doesn’t mean be a ‘push over.’ It means own your authentic power.

    • Elizabeth

      Thanks, Carmen! Appreciate your additional thoughts. Gratitude is certainly an emotion that can help us stay focused on positive. Glad you brought that to the discussion!

  6. Jammie

    I totally agree about the law of attraction….It works in nursing and in personal life as well!!! If you surround yourself with negativity, that is all that is going to be exhibited!! I believe that nurses should focus on the positive impacts and services that we provide as a professionals. The media has not done a great job in making nurses look professional,,, it’s up to every one of us to make a positive impact!!!!

    • Elizabeth

      Right on, Jammie! So glad you found this post enjoyable. Feel free to share. Enjoy the day!

  7. sunnysandra16

    Awesome article! I have seen first hand in my personal life, in my business and in my career in business how what I focus on will expand. Totally agree that has nurses if we want to see a change we need to start from within. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Elizabeth

      Thanks, Cassandra!

  8. Sierra Marie

    love this article! thank you for sharing….it’s exactly what I am trying to promote in my unit no!! thank you for the encouragement and inspiration!!

    • Elizabeth

      You got it, Sierra! Feel free to share the article with your unit. Thanks for the feedback!

  9. Rhonda

    While it appears to be true that we get what we put out there, that is not the all encompassing answer to all of nursing’s problems. I currently work in a friendly, respectful environment. It’s a great contrast to my previous work environment. I want to continue to work here because it is better for me, and ultimately better for my patients to have a nurse who is satisfied with her job. I suffered much in my previous work environment trying to be a great help to my patients while being berated by my boss. I wasn’t “attracting” this to myself, but it was my responsibility to get out of the toxic environment, and thankfully, that has been successful.

    • Elizabeth

      Thanks for the comment, Rhonda. Appreciate your thoughts and glad to hear that you took action to make changes in your job enjoyment. Enjoy the day!

  10. Christine

    This is awesome Elizabeth. I actually completed an appreciative inquiry with my team this week. We should be very proud of our profession and promote it as such.
    For those who can only complain – they may need to reconsider their career choice. Thanks so much!

    • Elizabeth

      Great point! I agree and am glad that you said this. Constant complaints equals career change time!! Thanks for the comments.



  1. The Negativity You Should be Focusing On - […] month I published an article about negativity in nursing. I articulated how there is a lot of social media…

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