Written by Samantha Wall, LCSW
Edited by Joe DeNoon
The way we talk to ourselves is so important to our mindset and how we interact with our world. In the last blog, Francine discussed how the stories we tell ourselves can be so important to our overall narrative. Our narrative can affect our daily outlook, relationships, and overall mood. People who struggle with anxiety can have the narrative that things are inherently unsafe and that we need to be on alert. This can be very exhausting, and when we view the world as ‘most things could be dangerous’ it will be difficult for us to find moments where we can have a different narrative.
As a nurse, there are so many aspects of the job that can be difficult, and it can be hard to have a narrative that is helpful from day to day. As we have discussed before on this blog, nurses face daily challenges, anxieties, and dynamics that many people who do not work in health care or at a hospital face. It is important to acknowledge these aspects as facts, so we can make changes and not fall into the toxic positive ‘trap’. We also must recognize the impact to our mindset if we solely focus on the downfalls and struggles.
Anxiety is a great working example of how a narrative can take over our mood and daily life. Anxiety, at the root, is an adaptive and life-saving instinct. It can be the signal we need to go into fight-or-flight or have heightened awareness, but when we have this feeling and instinct as our daily narrative, it can be harmful and overwhelming. Anxiety can make daily tasks difficult when we have the narrative that we are at risk and need to lean on anxiety to keep us safe at all times.
We can start the process away from anxiety by changing our narrative little by little. Instead of everyday waking up and saying “what can go wrong today?”, we can shift that statement to “what could the day look like?” It brings neutrality to the day; it is not saying something that could be false. The neutral question then, over time, can shift our narrative. If you feel you struggle with a narrative, it can also be important to let someone know of your struggle. Due to the fact it is internal, it can be so difficult to hold ourselves accountable to shift that narrative. The support of another person, a professional, co-worker who can work on the same goal, or a friend can also help with encouragement can help us challenge our inner narrative or provide a space for us to talk about how we got to our inner narrative.
This will not change the outside world and all that comes with it, but it can do so much to help us approach our daily ups and downs with more ease and regulation.