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Nurse Personality Change

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Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

Joseph Campbell said something along the lines of, "The consciousness is changed through trials and tribulations and subsequent illuminating revelations".

Basically, this means that if we experience and deal with difficulties, our perception of reality is different; the way in which we view ourselves, others, and our environment is changed.

Many threads here on allnurses are about new Nurses endeavoring to deal with the pains and sorrows of working as a nurse. Some look for support and camaraderie in order to continue on their journey while others are discouraged and disappointed and want a way out.

One common factor amongst the seasoned Nurses focuses on their ability to adapt in order to brave the hardships of nursing. Some become, to varying degrees, calloused and expend their energies only on endeavors which are more assuredly to have beneficial results. Some are labelled COBs: Crusty Old Bats on the outside with gooey centers; coming across as mean, but good at heart.

Another common trait expressed is a type of personality change. Some have said they started out as naive nurses with Messiah Complexes, for they were young and strong and were going to save the world. Often times, these naive Nurses became pessimistic realists and found ways to deal with stress through changing their approach and personality.

Due to dealing with difficulties, these Nurses experienced illuminating revelations and changed the way in which they viewed themselves, others, and their environment.

Do you feel and believe that you have experienced a personality change since you were a new nurse?

I know that my personality changed from the time I began working as a new Nurse.

 

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SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

No personality change per se, but definitely am "seasoned" to a crisp. I guess live and learn and I have learned some people are just not nice, be they patients, colleagues, doctors or administrators. I look at them all with a much more jaundiced eye nowadays. And I am counting down to retirement. I am crusty, old and very tough to chew up and spit out. That is an asset, I guess?

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

24 minutes ago, SmilingBluEyes said:

No personality change per se, but definitely am "seasoned" to a crisp.

Those who are fans of the Genetically Predisposed Personality Template Theory would agree with you, SBE.

They say that the personality does not change (per se), but environmental stimuli brings forth different aspects of the personality.

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

5 minutes ago, Davey Do said:

Those who are fans of the Genetically Predisposed Personality Template Theory would agree with you, SBE.

They say that the personality does not change (per se), but environmental stimuli brings forth different aspects of the personality.

I guess you said it better than I did!

Kitiger, RN

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 42 years experience.

We're supposed to change and grow. One of the reasons that you can't go back is because you are not entirely the same person that you were back when.

I wouldn't want to go back to the person I was 40 years ago. I've grown, I understand more because I've experienced more. My thought processes are more subtle, not so black & white. 

Would you call this a personality change?

NightNerd, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-surg/tele. Has 7 years experience.

I don't think that my personality has changed so much as my expectations. I was more idealistic and hopeful as a new nurse than I am now. I still bring some optimism with me every day and like to think I can do something positive through my work; otherwise I wouldn't feel any purpose or strength to keep going. However, I take everything less personally now, which allows me to respond to patients, families, docs, coworkers, etc. with compassion and reasonable boundaries, rather than out of any other motivations - e.g., annoyance, fear, etc. I am glad that I've been able to adjust my expectations of myself and those around me, or I would have 100% crumbled by now!

Also, years of experience has allowed me to trust myself and my judgment much more readily, which has done wonders for my work-related anxiety. I'm told that I come off as very calm in my current job, which is great, but I don't always feel that way; whereas I know as a new grad my anxiety was written all over me for all to see. I simply have more perspective, knowledge, and self-discipline to work with, even though many of my same characteristics, both good and otherwise, are still part of me.

My personality has changed but not from nursing, more along the lines of life and its experiences overall. As for nursing, I've learned to maneuver better and remain calm. There are times where I just pause and walk away to collect myself whereas the old me would have read some folks for filth and definitely hurt some feelings. As I've grown older, I've learned how to master self-control and knowing when to walk away. Some things I used to battle about I've learned are just patients' way of having control. Most times it's minor so I let them have it. That's also a case where life experience has helped because I've been a patient many times myself. I'm young but I'm a young COB because I've been in nursing since a young age and I've been a patient far too many times as a young person. Life comes at you fast.

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

A definition of personality is "the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual's distinctive character". Those characteristics and qualities are manifested through the individual's behavior.

13 hours ago, Kitiger said:

I've grown, I understand more because I've experienced more. My thought processes are more subtle, not so black & white. 

 

12 hours ago, NightNerd said:

 I simply have more perspective, knowledge, and self-discipline to work with, even though many of my same characteristics, both good and otherwise, are still part of me.

 

40 minutes ago, NurseBlaq said:

 I've learned to maneuver better and remain calm. 

My hat is off to you three as a result of the choice you've made to choose a higher consciousness.

15 hours ago, Davey Do said:

the personality does not change (per se), but environmental stimuli brings forth different aspects of the personality.

We all have the choice whether or not to take the high road, which is more work, but we reap positive products as a result of that choice. According to Edgar Cayce, Adolf Hitler had the potential to do as much good as he did harm. Obviously, Hitler choose the low road.

That choice makes me consider: What pivotal point in our lives do we make the decision which will carry us through to the end of our days?

Can any of you recall a specific pivotal point in your lives when you realized that the high road is the better road?

Elfriede

Specializes in ambulant care. Has 40 years experience.

I see my development from "noble ideals" to "damage limitation" as a normal sign of age.

40 minutes ago, Davey Do said:

Can any of you recall a specific pivotal point in your lives when you realized that the high road is the better road?

Dealing with my narcissistic ex, I didn't kill him! I realized ignoring him would do more damage than any physical harm I could/would do to him. Years later and he's still seething.

Not sure if basic personality changed. Definitely different responses to things though. I chalk that up to a combo of experiences, introspection, wisdom gained and hard work. I do think I have moved on from having to conscientiously work very hard to combat the negative parts of my "natural" personality to where some empowered yet softened down/more kind version actually feels better and is becoming second nature. So maybe that is a personality change.

Nursing has played a strange role in my life wherein at some point, one can sorta say that you accept your disappointing life experiences because, for better or worse, they are what has brought you to where you are, which, though internal work, is now a place that you can accept. Not all hearts and rainbows, but that's my story/reality. I'm in a weird position where I probably should not have chosen this; I was told point blank by a couple of people qualified to advise me (due to knowing both me and nursing) that I would find nursing difficult/not satisfying. If I were at the starting line I would choose differently. And yet...I have a great life. Me and my people support and love each other and my career so far hasn't been a bust and is looking even better for the future. So it's hard to really say with conviction that I wouldn't do it again.

JBMmom, MSN

Specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care. Has 9 years experience.

Since my working years have spanned two very different careers I would say that my personality is as it is today more because of life and experience in general than anything from nursing specifically. (Aside from the fact that my family members would now need to practically amputate limb in order to get a band-aid or much concern from me.) I think life has brought challenges, successes and disappointments in so many areas I've learned to let a lot more things go. Not that I've mastered it, and the state of my unit at work has still caused me to go on some recent rants, but I find that I can better find the line between what I need to get worked up about and what I don't. I've never been a very emotional person outwardly, I have only a few friends with whom I share a real connection, and I think that maybe this past year with COVID has highlighted for me that I could benefit from being a little less closed off, so I'm working on it.  

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

35 minutes ago, NurseBlaq said:

 I realized ignoring him would do more damage than any physical harm I could/would do to him. 

An interesting concept, NurseBlaq. that I recall learning in October 1979!

I was to be a Houseparent, currently referred to as a Residential Counselor, for "troubled teenage boys", ages 14 to 18, at Anomaly Children's Home. Chatting with an older seasoned Houseparent, JB, who became quite a legend there, we were discussing methods to react to the boys' deviant behavior.

"Sometimes the boys will not follow the rules or pay heed to direction. For example, they may try to leave the facility after curfew. At times like this, I say, 'Okay- then you'll suffer the consequences of your actions.'

Even if I have no idea of what ramifications will occur, I use that line because, in their imagination, they can come up with ramifications far worse than any repercussions that I can come up with to use."

An illuminating revelation which changed my consciousness occurred as a result of that chat. I used that concept numerous times in my career as a psych nurse: Let the Patient know that if they, for example, threaten harm, then they'll have to deal with the ramifications of their actions.

Ignoring someone, as you do with your Ex, NurseBlaq, allows him to have to deal with himself. People who are in emotional pain often hurt others in order to get a negative reaction. A negative reaction will divert their emotional pain for bit; it'll feed the monkey on their back.

When no reaction is given, they only have themselves and their emotional pain with which to deal. And like you stated, that is far worse than anything you could/would do.

 

 

14 minutes ago, JBMmom said:

Since my working years have spanned two very different careers I would say that my personality is as it is today more because of life and experience in general than anything from nursing specifically. (Aside from the fact that my family members would now need to practically amputate limb in order to get a band-aid or much concern from me.) I think life has brought challenges, successes and disappointments in so many areas I've learned to let a lot more things go. Not that I've mastered it, and the state of my unit at work has still caused me to go on some recent rants, but I find that I can better find the line between what I need to get worked up about and what I don't. I've never been a very emotional person outwardly, I have only a few friends with whom I share a real connection, and I think that maybe this past year with COVID has highlighted for me that I could benefit from being a little less closed off, so I'm working on it.  

Guilty! 😂

6 minutes ago, Davey Do said:

An interesting concept, NurseBlaq. that I recall learning in October 1979!

I was to be a Houseparent, currently referred to as a Residential Counselor, for "troubled teenage boys", ages 14 to 18, at Anomaly Children's Home. Chatting with an older seasoned Houseparent, JB, who became quite a legend there, we were discussing methods to react to the boys' deviant behavior.

"Sometimes the boys will not follow the rules or pay heed to direction. For example, they may try to leave the facility after curfew. At times like this, I say, 'Okay- then you'll suffer the consequences of your actions.'

Even if I have no idea of what ramifications will occur, I use that line because, in their imagination, they can come up with ramifications far worse than any repercussions that I can come up with to use."

An illuminating revelation which changed my consciousness occurred as a result of that chat. I used that concept numerous times in my career as a psych nurse: Let the Patient know that if they, for example, threaten harm, then they'll have to deal with the ramifications of their actions.

Ignoring someone, as you do with your Ex, NurseBlaq, allows him to have to deal with himself. People who are in emotional pain often hurt others in order to get a negative reaction. A negative reaction will divert their emotional pain for bit; it'll feed the monkey on their back.

When no reaction is given, they only have themselves and their emotional pain with which to deal. And like you stated, that is far worse than anything you could/would do.

 

 

And if you know anything about narcissism, they're never wrong, literally ever! It's always someone else fault with them. Now, he has to own whatever his latest lie is and I have no parts of it whatsoever. I had to train myself to ignore him as if my last breath depended on it.

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

Your entire  post was one healthy read, JKL.

20 minutes ago, JKL33 said:

 I do think I have moved on from having to conscientiously work very hard to combat the negative parts of my "natural" personality to where some empowered yet softened down/more kind version actually feels better and is becoming second nature. So maybe that is a personality change.

This sounds like the perspective of an intelligent higher conscious person.

We all use what we know works best for us, and our methods are not always healthy endeavors. For example, even self-destructive pursuits relieve pain.

We all have to deal with our own personal demons, as you so aptly put, combat the negative parts of our personality. But not all of us make the decision to, again aptly stated, empower ourselves through changing our natural approach.

Introspection, learning, and application.

Hat doffed.

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

 

31 minutes ago, JBMmom said:

 Not that I've mastered it, and the state of my unit at work has still caused me to go on some recent rants...  I've never been a very emotional person outwardly  

A wake up call atypically from someone who doesn't often rant can be quite resounding, JBMmom.

Sometimes we just need to use what works in order to achieve a desired goal.

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

23 minutes ago, NurseBlaq said:

I had to train myself to ignore him as if my last breath depended on it.

The concept of practising being lovingly indifferent isn't a one time solution that never has to be again used.

Practising loving indifference is a learned conditioned response, which has to be repeated over and over again as the need arises.

I sense that you have made it a rote response, NurseBlaq.

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

4 hours ago, Elfriede said:

I see my development from "noble ideals" to "damage limitation" as a normal sign of age.

Interesting concepts, Elfriede.

Noble ideas is akin to the better angels of our nature; under certain conditions we go beyond what comes easily or naturally.

Damage limitation is not unlike one who discerns the inevitability of a negative situation works to and avoid or control it.