Negative Self Talk

by jadelpn Guide

We all get stressed at one time or another. But how we manage stress is an important part of being one's best self--both on the job and in our daily lives. Compassion, strength, ethical behavior--these are tall orders on a daily basis with many outside forces to conform to. If we remember that we are important too it can help us to acheive balance.

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    Negative Self Talk

    Nurses get stressed. There's many reasons why, and is an independent feeling. In other words, what stresses one nurse out, may not stress another and vice versa. Chronic stress is not good for the soul. It can impede on your personal life to the point where nothing is fun anymore, and sleeping is a viable option to spend the day. When stress occurs with some frequency, a number of nurses begin the cycle of negative self talk, which then becomes engrained. Our job is not all glitter and rainbows. If you don't know that going in, then it is realized pretty quickly upon arrival. But how we see ourselves, and how we react to others can go a long way to effectively managing stress both in and out of our work lives.

    Negative self talk is your inner critic that has the ability of when it fills you up, it comes out of your mouth. Sometimes our inner critic is a good thing. It is a small reality check, could make one take pause, try to amend how we do things. But when the critic is overwhelming to the point of "I am a failure" or "you are a failure" that is when it can be damaging to a nurse, or to the nurses around you.

    One of the effective ways of silencing your self critic is to literally picture a stop sign. That reminds you to STOP. Put your negative thoughts on the back burner. Remind yourself that you are only one person, doing the best that they can.

    When a co-worker starts to negative talk, put a positive spin on things. The goal is that you can only control your behavior, no one elses. Feelings of negativity are subjective. So you can argue, go tit-for-tat, and this is not going to change behavior or make a work environment that much calmer, bettter, or stress free.

    The nature of our business uses a great deal of adreneline. The time constraints, policies, rules, and acuity of patients and the unit make for high stress, and for some nurses, chronic stress. To have it not then impede on your personal life, when you close the door of your work, it needs to stay there.

    Put the radio up in your car, and go ahead, sing. Take a long, hot shower when you hit the door. Eat a bowl of cereal in front of some funny re-run. Continue reading that light, beachy read.

    Even if you have to tell yourself each day you go to work "today is going to be a good day! As weird as that seems, it can be positive self talk that you can and will believe if said daily and with conviciton. Although, I am all for radio playing and singing to work as well....and have been known to have some 80's hair band song stuck in my head for the day.

    In a work enviroment that is all about others, we need to be sure that we stay balanced, focused, and not let the effects of long term stress define us.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 27, '13
    SilkyKRN, ladybuglovee, bcolon, and 8 others like this.
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  4. About jadelpn

    jadelpn joined Nov '08 - from 'Massachusetts'. Age: 48 jadelpn has '25' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'ER, Med Surg'. Posts: 2,654 Likes: 4,547; Learn more about jadelpn by visiting their allnursesPage

    4 Comments so far...

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    Negative self talk is a killer. It spreads like a fungus. I am thankful for my long drive home when I can have myself a good cry or blast the music and sing or have a long talk with myself out loud. I usually am ok to let it all go by the time I arrive home.
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    Thank you for such a great post. It is oh so true. Because we're so used to taking good care of others, I think we struggle at times to take good care of ourselves.
    VivaLasViejas and jadelpn like this.
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    Negative self talk can eat away at self esteem. It's infectious and can turn an otherwise decent day into the worst day ever. I do my best to balance or counter negative thoughts with a more positive one. I also think it's important to "challenge" negative thoughts.

    Ask yourself:

    "Is this thought based in reality or is it just an assumption?"
    "What evidence do I have to support this statement?"

    Remember that you can't control or predict external factors, but only you are responsible for your own behaviors and reactions.
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
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    Sometimes I have to do the STOP sign visualization thing, too. The other thing that helps me when I get into the negative self-talk routine is to remind myself, out loud (where nobody can hear me, of course), that my brain is lying to me---that it's my illness talking, (to say nothing of the maladaptive coping mechanisms I learned early in life). Cognitive-behavioral therapy is helping me to change that kind of thinking so that maybe one day, it won't be my default language.


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