Keys to the Kingdom... of Kindness

Tuesday October 16, 2018

Liz's recent post about being kind to oneself and Mirjam's on aiming to increase the "pride" card, made me think...

When I first took on a new position as the nurse in an out-patient clinic, I was given a set of keys on a key chain. At the end of my first day, I accidentally took it home. They were keys for a linen cupboard, blanket warmer, and a row of wheelchairs and would be needed in the morning. It was evening and I was tired, but I had to drive back to the hospital to return them. But I wasn't alone: a voice accompanied me the whole way: "You are so careless... how could you be so forgetful?" and so on - you get the idea - all the way there and back home.

Unbelievably, a month or two later - oops, I did it again. (Thank you, Britney Spears.) After work, I swung my knapsack onto the kitchen counter and heard the little tinkle of metal keys. In my hurry to leave at the end of my shift, I hadn't taken the time to put them in their place. Once again, late at night, I had to drive back to the hospital to return the keys, these for lockers where our patients put their belongings during treatments. They wouldn't be able to get their clothes, which would surely add to their stress, plus the nurses would grumble about the inconvenience I'd caused. Embarrassed, I snuck in, returned the keys, and slunk back out.

Perhaps you won't be surprised to learn that recently, even after more than a year at this job, I did it again. What is it about keys? I know I'm capable and responsible: I've been a safe nurse for 36 years. (I am proud of that.) But about relatively trivial things, my mind drifts away, gets loose and sloppy. Alert and "on" and then I shift into dream mode, and go "off."

But I also know is that my ingrained, always-at-the ready negative self-talk makes any problem worse. When I'm anxious, I get distracted or preoccupied with worries. When I'm depressed, I don't have the energy to be organized or attend to small details.

So I decided a new decision. I can't always avoid making little mistakes, but one thing I can change is the way I treat myself when I slip-up. I'll try to stop the negative self-talk and find something to be proud of in these situation. Thank you Liz, and Mirjam.

Maybe those darn keys can unlock a new path toward letting go of self-recrimination. One day, keys for opening locks will probably be obsolete, but there will undoubtedly be new opportunities to lose or misplace things. My plan is to remind myself that I have a choice to put the key in whichever door I choose. The portal to self-recrimination or the one to self-love. The first has been my go-to, familiar, default stance for many years. The second is exciting and new, but I think, with practice, I can learn it.

Nurse Tilda
A Moodscope member.

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