Anxiety and low self-esteem

Nurses General Nursing


Hi everyone,

Say...did anyone catch the Oprah that was on this afternoon? It was about people and their "social anxiety disorders". I seriously think I have far as work goes. I think a lot of my problem stems from low self esteem. I work on a med/surg floor...and I always feel like I'm doing something wrong. Like last week for example: I had like three IV's I couldn't get started...and I felt soo bad after that....totally worthless. Even with assessing lung sounds....I feel like : "god, am I listening right, am I hearing right?" I'm constantly wondering what the doctors think of me and what my co-workers think of me. I feel like quiting my job sometimes just due to the fact that I don't feel like I'm doing a good enough job as a nurse. I just had a review and my supervisor said that I'm doing a great job..but yet I don't think so. I take every bad situation and dwell on it for weeks, sometimes months even. And then...I see my peers who graduated with or some even after me...working their way up into higher positions... I don't know....I graduated three years ago....I know it's not a super long time ago...but shouldn't some of this "anxiety" of being a good nurse be wearing off by now? Does anyone else ever feel like this or am I alone in this? My thoughts of wanting to be a "perfect nurse" and then feeling like I'm failing at it are consuming me...I think about it all the time. Help......I need your guy's opinion....or maybe just some Xanax..I don't know....anyways...thanks for listening.....


2,099 Posts

Specializes in Corrections, Psych, Med-Surg.

Most likely the optimal intervention would be a combination of individual counseling (you can get a referral from your doc, pastor, women's center, community health center), healthful diet, adequate sleep, and regular aerobic exercise--rather than drugs, IMHO.

sanakruz, ADN

735 Posts

How is your weight?


150 Posts

sjoe gave good advice about seeking some help instead of the Xanax.

Go easy on yourself. You're in a high stress field, a breeding ground for anxiety.

Read through the threads on this board, you'll see no shortage of nitpicking mistakes and tattling in our feild. Believe me, if you were not giving good care, you'd be hearing about it.

I felt the same way as a newer nurse and a counseler said something to me that has stuck for years. She told me to not ask myself whether I was good enough for the job, but whether the job was good enough for me, and if I really wanted it. I'm a nurse 7 years, and I still have trouble starting IV's. (I work in a unit with mostly central lines:D) . I've found that most of my co-workers have such egos, that they don't mind taking on a challenge like that if I ask nicely for help and offer to do something for them while they start the IV.

I still second guess myself sometimes. And I still have issues with self confidence, (that's lifelong though, not just nursing related.) There's no shame in asking for another set of eyes to look at your patient if you don't think the picture looks right and you can't put your finger on it.

sanakruz, ADN

735 Posts

I am sending you a pm

PennyLane, RN

1,193 Posts

I've felt that way for years, about almost everything. It's a self-defeatist attitude. I read somewhere recently that the one single most important factor that makes a good salesperson is optimism. For example, you cold call someone, the call goes badly and they are rude to you and hang up. Do you a. take it personally and feel bad about yourself and doubt your abilities? or b. feel that the next call could only be better? Employers look for an optimistic personality when hiring sales people for cold calling.

I, too, have struggled with this. Everything from baking my first cake and having it fall to killing houseplants, lol. You have to recognize the behavior first, analyze how you think and why you think that way, and try and look at the situation realistically. Everyone has encountered the same problems as you, have, and maybe more!

I agree with sjoe that some counseling would probably help improve your self-esteem.


35 Posts

One of our nursing supervisors joked the other night, saying "If everyone's breathing at the end of your shift you've done a good job". Some shifts are like that. Thankfully, most are not. Hopefully your good days outnumber your bad days. If not, you may pay a visit to the EAP rep at your facility and find someone to talk to. But don't hang up your stethoscope over thinking you have to be a "perfect nurse" because a nurse who knows everything is a scarey nurse! There are always things to learn.

cactus wren

295 Posts

Stop beating yourself up !! Everyone has days when you can`t hit a vein....or a garden hose for that matter...:D ..But then the next day you get one even the CRNA`s couldn`t get....As for lung sounds, yup, soetimes they make you worry, and ponder...This doesn`t mean your incompenent, it means that you are a good nurse who really cares...and remenber, what you hear can be totally different than what the last shift heard....I have sometimes looked back over what they charted, and wondered if it was the same patient. What it sounds like is that you are one of us getting burnt out nurses...maybe you need a change in something...take up kick boxing or plant something...kick the cat( not really), or scold the dog...something that gets the heart pumping and the blood flowing....then try something relaxing...a nice long bath,with candles....a glass of wine, whatever your pleasure....

Good Luck

I have struggled with self confidence too. I have found what makes the most difference is to think about the things that I do RIGHT instead of the things I do wrong... I have also made it a practice to ask my peer's advice. It took me a long time to really understand the "there is no such thing as a stupid question" idea.

I also agree with the counseling idea. Sometimes it helps to have an outside professional opinion about you. I did the counseling, and my counselor really helped to put things in perspective for me.


218 Posts

I think nursing is just one of those professions where your always wondering "did I do the right thing." Its true that the learning is never ending, and that is one of the reasons I enjoy it. I also ask for other's opinions if I'm not sure. I just do the best I can, what more can I do? Wish you the best, and pat yourself on the back for caring the way you do.

Sent you a pm. :)

Specializes in OR,ER,med/surg,SCU.

something that helped me out.

Perfection is being right.

excellence is willing to be wrong.

Perfecton is fear

excellence is taking a risk

Perfection is anger and frustration

excellence is powerful

perfection is control

excellence is spontaneous

perfection is judgment

excellence is accepting

perfection is taking

exellence is giving

Perfecton is doubt

excellence is confidence

perfecton is pressure

excellence is natural

perfection is the destination

excellence is the journey (anonynous)

there are some nice suggetions on the board. I wish you well

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