What if we really had the power to change how we allow events to define our feelings? In the world of nursing, things are rarely, if ever, predictable. Nurses are expected to take on everything thrown our way, including the confused elderly patient who doesn’t understand why they are here, the patient who just got the news they have stage 4 colon cancer, and the patient who is angry their surgery was delayed for the 3rd time. Oh! And don’t forget that the patient being admitted from the ED with sepsis is your admission; your patient in room 304 is ready for discharge instructions, and you just got orders to hang two units of PRBCs. With all this (and more), we must remain calm. Right? How can we handle all that keeps coming our way? Let’s watch the following video for some insight.
As Dr. Olpin suggests, we often mistakenly think our reaction to events is automatic. The truth is we do have the power to change how we allow circumstances to define how we feel. Our thoughts are powerful. The key is to recognize our thoughts and then pause. In the “pause,” we have the opportunity to change our reaction. For me, this is one of the most powerful tools I have incorporated into my career and my life in general. Previously, I felt like I was a passive participant in stress. Stressful events automatically lead to an emotional response (tears, anger, self-defeat, etc.). Viktor Frankl said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” We may not be able to change certain circumstances, but at the end of the day, when shift hand-off is complete, we pick up our water bottle (the one that is still ½ full after a 12-hour shift) and head home with a sense of calmness knowing that our thoughts were not in control today, because they are just that…. thoughts.