By Latoya Smith

Flag Games: When to Plant Your Flag and When to Wave the White Flag (Surrender)

Sometimes we can be so focused on one goal that we miss the opportunity to exit gracefully. We just sort of refuse to acknowledge what the universe is trying to tell us. As nurses, it is imperative that we are attune to the effect not only that our work environments have on us, but also the effect our personal relationships are having on us. Sometimes we are required to plant our flags and other times we are required to surrender.

Maybe you worked the same job for 10 years. You know everyone! You know the guy in maintenance. You know Jan, the lady, in the cafeteria. You know Paula in housekeeping and all the charge nurses on all the floors. Essentially at work, you are at home. However, the atmosphere on your floor is not good. Morale is low, there is high turnover, and administration isn’t listening to the nursing staff. You are chronically short staffed. There will be people who say that this is normal for nursing. They may say we are always going to be short staffed. They may say this is just how “we work”, or “you have to get used to it”. But this, friends, is not the truth. There will be a time when you will have to make a very hard decision. Do you want continue to keep your flag planted in this place that doesn’t appreciate or value you, or do you want to surrender and allow yourself to move on to somewhere else that would be better mentally, emotionally, and physically for you?

I know that leaving “home” can be extraordinarily frightening. It just seems easier to just tough it out. But I can assure you that your body isn’t just toughing it out. You are stressed. You are struggling mentally. It is harder and harder to go to work every day. The care that you previously provided seems so easy. And now the workload seems heavier. Yet, there is such freedom in surrendering. It’s just, as my granny would say, time to go.

So going forward I want you to take two big ‘ole doses of courage. I want you to give yourself permission to surrender from spaces that are not healthy for you and cause you emotional strife. From now on we are only planting our flags in spaces and relationships that enhance our emotional well being and that feed our hearts and souls. In every other instance, we are waving the white flag!!!


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