The definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting to get a different result. Sometimes I feel like a hamster on a wheel – I try to escape the wheel but it keeps going round and round. I also am thinking that if I keep going on this wheel, I’m going to get somewhere, get a different result and then be able to jump off this wheel.
But the obvious reality is that if I keep going around on the wheel the only thing I will accomplish is to keep going around on the wheel. This is what a lot of us in nursing do. We have a certain job, that we would like things to be different and yet everything stays the same.
There are two reasons why things don’t change. The first is called “the cybernetic mechanism,” which is a setting we all have, like a thermostat. If the thermostat is set at 72º and it gets warmer, the thermostat will kick on the air conditioning to bring the temperature down. If it cools down past 72º, then the thermostat will turn on the heat to get it back to that set temperature.
The same is true within our body. We are programmed through the cybernetic mechanism to have a certain comfort zone. We are programmed to make a certain amount of money, to respond to events in a certain ways, etc. This keeps us in our comfort zone.
So, even though we would like things to change, we’re programmed for things to stay the same.
The second reason is what I call “the vicious cycle.” An event will occur and we will have a thought which will create an action in which to respond to that thought which, in turn, will create a belief. Then, when a similar event occurs, we have the thought which triggers the same action which leads again to the same belief.
For example: let’s say that you’re not a person who enjoys gossip. But somebody on the unit starts telling stories, so you’ll think, “oh, good grief, they’re gossiping again,” which will trigger a response in the form of either a thought or comment and then it would trigger a belief about that situation. What’s more, the cycle will continue to perpetuate itself.
To use my kids’ fighting as an example; one does something to annoy another which will trigger an action which then would trigger a belief and the whole cycle starts over and over again.
The only way to break the vicious cycle is to create a vision of something being different. If you manage that, then all of your actions have to be in line with that vision.
So, if you have a vision of creating a non-gossip workplace, then, when gossip occurs, you must take a different action than what you have been taking before with the intention (vision) of creating a non-gossip workplace. It may be as easy as saying, “you know, I love working with you but when you gossip, I find it upsetting. How do you feel about gossip? Wouldn’t it nice if we could all help each other to have a gossip-free unit? As a suggestion, maybe we could have a sign or gesture to let each other know that we have to stop the gossip? Let’s get everybody on board with this new way of being.”
Believe me, it works. However, it needs to be introduced in a way where everybody buys into the new philosophy.
So, the next time you’re wondering why things are staying the same, now you know and your not crazy! But you now also know a way to have it be different by doing something different and getting everyone to buy in to create a good result for everybody.