Once I was working a morning shift as an agency nurse, a few nurses and myself were sent to lunch for our breaks. I remember a young nurse who seemed really excited, she was sitting at a table away from the main group of ward nurses
She was happy because the day before the shift she baked a cake and it did actually looked delicious, for all the time and the amount of effort it would have taken to bake the cake she was generous to share a slice with everyone.
The group of nurses each took a slice of cake from her and within a moment they turned their backs away from her to start the conversation again, I could see her heart sinking and her whole self turned to sadness. This gesture meant a lot to her but was received with no thanks, the feelings of belonging and being valued was taken away instantly as she wasn’t included to sit with the group and they definitely didn’t include her in the conversation that was happening.
Being Self Sacrificing Without Losing Your Self Worth
Nurses have always been known as self sacrificing with putting the needs of other people above themselves in a way that is dedicated to the work tirelessly even if there is a cost at a personal level.
At work sometimes there are general expectations with the sense of duty from others that we work with heavier workloads, stay back later than is actually needed, give up our breaks and this list of examples goes on. But that might cause us to lose how we see ourselves with the work demanding so much and even trying to put ourselves first can feel guilty as you get more drained by duty.
The situation above was hard as the nurse was at work surrounded by people where I can imagine the relationships made her feel belittled or unappreciated by not fitting in the group and especially when she went above to share an experience with giving food.
If self worth is constantly knocked down it stays with that person for a lot longer than it ever should, it’s easy to become powerless, feel invisible, lose your voice or even self esteem.
The first step is to value yourself again with how you perceive yourself, I’m guessing something we all do as its so easy is to start being self critical with negative self talk. Its important to be understanding to yourself with self compassion, offer the kindness to yourself in a way that is similar to what you would give to a friend who is in need of support.
The next step is to know what your own boundaries are by defining what you are comfortable with and how you would like to be treated by others. Respecting your own boundaries shows that you value yourself. Although, people don’t always know what specific boundaries are important to you and if its possible you may need to openly communicate them to others to make them aware of how you feel.
When a person is an outsider this makes the workplace more complicated and its easy to lose your self worth, surrounding yourself with supportive people who uplift and encourage you with positive relationships can reinforce your sense of self-worth.
Putting your needs second and putting other peoples needs in front is a hard balance for any nurse, yet taking the time to slowly implement these few strategies can lead to a more confident self perception by not forgetting yourself.
Also, when nursing gets tough the best possible way to keep inspired is to remember the work you do as a nurse is important and that you are helping people. Sometimes because we are so busy in the work and its our everyday job its easy to forget that a patient/resident is in need and you do actually make a difference to that individual who matters .
Support Resources –
- Nurse & Midwife Support – 1800 667 877
- Lifeline – 13 11 14
- Beyond Blue – 1300 224636
- Headspace – 1800 650 890
- Head to Health offers a list of digital mental health resources from trusted Australian organisations