How To Deal With An Upsetting Profession

What? Am I saying that nursing is an upsetting profession?

No! I’m saying something better: nursing sucks.

Nursing is an extreme, emotional roller coaster. I wouldn’t be able to tell you how many times I’ve sat in my car thinking “I fucking hate my job. The charge nurse is a bitch and my coworkers are dumbass little pussies. Why did I choose this stupid profession?” In other words, I have a Phd in Bitching About Nursing.

What I failed to see in my car is the most important idea in this post: the world doesn’t give a shit about what you think, and it also doesn’t give a shit about you in general. You life (as you have long suspected) is empty and meaningless, and it ultimately doesn’t matter. By extension, what you think about your job and nursing ultimately don’t matter, especially since there are hundreds of starving students who want your nursing job. That is, nobody cares that you think nursing sucks. The patient just needs you to wipe his ass. So stop complaining and get ready to dip your finger into some anus!

On a serious note, let’s cover some tools you can use on that inevitable day when you’re stuck in your car saying “wow, nursing is a bitch.”

The Routes To Disappointment

There are only three routes to disappointment: a) a thwarted intention, b) an undelivered communication, and c) an unfulfilled expectation. Here are the ways to deal with the specific types of disappointment.

  1. Thwarted intention – This often manifests in you intending to have a perfect shift (i.e. making no mistakes) or trying to avoid criticism. Ultimately, your efforts fail because when you step into a hospital (or any other setting with human beings), there are too many variables outside your realm of control. When something goes wrong (someone squirts period blood at you, a patient tells you that nursing is a joke, etc.), your mission to have an ideal shift goes out the window. The best way to handle the upset stemming from a thwarted intention is to fix your intention. For instance, if your desire is to have perfect shifts, you will need to change the intention by lowering the bar you set for yourself. Let’s be clear: I’m not saying you should intend to make mistakes. I’m simply saying you need to align your will with reality so you can deal effectively with disappointment.
  2. Undelivered communication – The upset from an undelivered communication is brooding in nature and can eat at you for weeks to years. Such brooding feelings often stem from your lack of assertiveness in expressing what you want or need. A feeling of powerlessness is a signal that you need to speak up. Remember, you need to practice expressing your thoughts. Don’t expect your coworkers to read your mind (“but if you loved me, you would know what I want!”). Remember that we’re not talking about your nagging girlfriend; we are talking about work. As Jordan Peterson said, every time you let something pass, you become a smaller man.
  3. Unfulfilled expectation – The upset stemming from an unfulfilled expectation is more long term than the upset stemming from a thwarted intention. Unfulfilled expectations stem from “should statements.” For instance, I’ve often thought that “nurses should get paid more for putting their bodies at risk.” Ultimately, the source of my disappointment was the fact that my financial reality didn’t meet the lofty expectations I had for nursing salaries. To address this specific type of upset, I have often reminded myself that the world doesn’t owe me anything, and I eliminated “should statements” in the process. Just because I have certain expectations, the world won’t bend over to meet them. Likewise, just because you have certain expectations of nursing, it doesn’t mean that the healthcare world will change itself just to fit the vision in your mind. Healthcare was here long before we came, and it will last long after we’re gone.

In summary, there are only three routes to disappointment. The way to handle this upset is by managing your expectations, speaking up, or changing your self-talk.

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