Letting Go: Releasing My Need to Control

Nurses Stress 101


Specializes in psychiatry, community health, wellness.

I used to want to control everything. I wanted smooth work days, timely appointments, and conversations that ended with my opinions as outcomes. I would get frustrated with co-workers who didn't see things my way. I'd get angry when people were late or meetings delayed. I'd feel uncomfortable and unhappy when things didn't turn out as I had planned; especially at work.

Have you ever had an experience like this? You arrive to your nursing unit on time and ready for report. Since yesterday you worked a 12 hour shift you admitted the afternoon transfer. Not only that, but you took care of 5 patients, so you figured you have the same patient assignment. However, right off the bat things are not stacked up in your favor. You have a completely different assignment; in fact you are rounding with a different physician team altogether. You look further and see that after 8 hours you are sent to cover another are your unit staffs; finishing up your last 4 hours of your 12 hour shift in the psychiatric emergency department. To top it all off, your manager comes in and tells you that the Patient Safety meeting has been changed to next week, which is when you have off to study for finals. She says you need to come in for the meeting anyway as she will be out of town visiting grandchildren.

What comes up for you after reading this? In the past when this would happen to me I would feel extremely angry. I would get hot flashes starting in my chest which rose to my head. My blood would feel as if it was boiling and my face would turn red. My head would ache and my stomach would twist into knots. I would almost feel like I was on the verge of tears; I was that mad. My thoughts would race; "This is so unfair! I don't know these patients! I cannot do this. Why does this always happen to me? This stinks!!" I would complain to the charge nurse. I would attempt to change my assignment and arrange my schedule so I didn't have to split my shift. I would be furious at my nurse manager for the meeting change, even though it had nothing to do with her. I would feel out of control!

Notice I said this is how I felt in the past. After a lot of inner healing, reflective reading, and educating myself I have a different outlook on the need to control. I have learned the art of "letting go". A line from the serenity prayer states "grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change." Realizing certain experiences are outside of our control can be freeing. Circumstances in our lives are beyond our reach. We cannot control time. We do not have power over another's behavior. We are unable to change the past or rearrange what the future. Letting go can remind us to live in the present moment. So how do we do this? How have you "let go" of stressors in your own life?

For me, I try to focus on the present moment. I try breath work and deep breathing exercises. I focus on the here and now and know that I can only control my own behavior; that being upset about another person really is not going to change anything, that the past is in the past and I cannot get it back, and learning to focus on the present moment. And I am grateful for my blessings; when I express gratitude for all that I do have, it makes the stuff I am complaining about or trying to control that much less.

Specializes in SICU.
Specializes in SICU.
Specializes in psychiatry, community health, wellness.

Hi Ohio Student RN! Thanks for reading!

Specializes in Medical Surgical Orthopedic.

I haven't mastered serenity, so for now I just take Excedrin®.

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