6 tips to stop being a people pleaser as a nurse practitioner

stop being a people pleaser

Do you find yourself saying yes to a request you don’t really want to do? Do you struggle with patients asking for more than you’re willing to give? Do you hear comments like, “You’re soooooo nice” or “I can always count on you”? Do you feel like you are constantly giving to everyone but yourself? 

These are signs and symptoms that you need to stop being a people pleaser as a nurse practitioner. 

Nurse practitioners are prone to being people pleasers because of our caring nature as nurses. We likely had a calling to healthcare because we wanted to help patients feel better. We were taught in nursing school how to care for patients. It is what we have done working as registered nurses. It is what we do every day as nurse practitioners. We help patients feel better. We give up our own needs to put our patients’ needs first. 

And sometimes, nurse practitioners reach a point that they have nothing left to give. They might be sick and tired of putting work before their family or their own health. This causes work-life imbalance and ultimately nurse practitioner burnout. 

Here are a few simple steps to stop being a people pleaser and learn to love your job/life again as a nurse practitioner.

Decide you deserve more

You are a nurse practitioner who holds a very valuable spot in healthcare. You deserve to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. You deserve to stop being a people pleaser and fill your cup first! Here’s a few ways you can choose yourself first!

  • The first step to getting out of your own way and doing what you want is simply acknowledging that you’re your biggest obstacle. And then have the confidence to know that making mistakes is OK—and even better, it’s an opportunity to learn.
  • While it’s great to be friendly, you don’t have to let other people walk all over you. It’s ok to stand up for your wants and needs
  • Make sure your expectations for how people treat you are true to yourself. Then stick up for yourself when someone goes against these expectations. 
  • Reflect on what is a priority at this time in your life? Are your kids and family the most important thing? Or is your career as a nurse practitioner superior at this time? It’s different for every person!

Prioritize your needs first

One of the easiest ways to stop being a people pleaser is to start prioritizing your needs first. Don’t let other people decide for you or influence you whenever you’re making an important decision. 

  • Think through what matters most to you and how your choices will affect you. Become aware when someone is asking you something and decide if you are in a proper place mentally, physically, emotionally to say yes. As much as possible, stop letting others persuade you. 
  • It doesn’t mean you have to be rude; it just means that if something isn’t crucial to YOU personally, don’t do it (or don’t do it more than once). 
  • Example of how to prioritize your needs: Suppose your clinic manager wants to add one more task to your already busy day. As a nurse practitioner, you can use the phrase “yes, but….” With this statement, you are agreeing to the task while also asking for extra admin time or your clinic schedule to be lightened so you can have time to do the added task. This is an example of sticking up for your time and personal needs!

Give yourself permission to ask for help

Do you find yourself spending more time trying to be helpful to others than taking care of yourself? Your ability to take care of others is greatly diminished when you’re not in a good place mentally, physically, emotionally

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your co-workers, friends, or family if you need assistance with kids, housework, or staying caught up at work. 
  • Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness—and there are many ways you can get help without feeling like you are burdening anyone else. Think about how you feel when you help a sick family member or friend going through a tough time. Does it give you purpose and fulfillment when you help someone in need?

Say no when necessary

It can be uncomfortable to say no especially as a nurse practitioner. It makes us uneasy about disappointing others, especially when they’re someone we care about or who has made sacrifices for us. Saying no is hard, but you have to do it if you want some time for yourself. 

  • Nurse practitioners must realize when they are saying NO to one thing, they are saying YES to something else. That something else could be, more time with family, time to actually do the self care, an opportunity to overcome nurse practitioner burnout. 
  • Saying yes every time you feel inclined to do so will make it impossible for you to achieve your personal or professional goals. This will lead to unnecessary stress and frustration. 
  • So instead, practice turning down invitations or tasks that don’t align with your values. Over time, you’ll build confidence in your ability to set boundaries around spending your time and hone in on what really matters most. 
  • You might even discover that by saying no when necessary, you end up with an extra hour or two each week that was previously spent spreading yourself too thin!

Take care of yourself first

In order to start taking care of others as a nurse practitioner, it’s necessary to take care of yourself first. To learn how to stop being a people pleaser, you have to be willing and able to take care of yourself before others. 

  • It will not only make you feel better but will also allow you to focus on your patients. Take time out for self-care and make sure that you are happy and satisfied with what is going on in your life. 
  • As much as you want to put others first, self-care is crucial. You won’t be any good to your patients or your family if you’re exhausted and overworked. 
  • To take care of yourself, schedule breaks during long days and prioritize sleep over Netflix binges. Create healthy habits of daily exercise and clean eating. Develop stress management routines. As nurse practitioners, we know what to do as far as self-care. We just need to practice what we preach to our patients! 
  • Practice self-love by taking care of your physical health and recognizing what you do for others daily. And remember that it’s OK to say no when you need to! 

Learn how not to be taken advantage of

Nurse practitioners who are people pleasers generally do more for other people than themselves. And the other person knows it! It is ok to help other people but make sure you protect yourself from being taken advantage of!

  • Set boundaries so that other things don’t get pushed aside and cause problems in your personal life. Set these limits with a supervision physician who is always trying to get you to do their own work. If your patient wants something without scheduling a visit first, tell them no! Inform family members you will no longer be able to drop everything to help them at a moment’s notice. It can be hard to set these boundaries, but it is so important for your own mental and emotional health. 
  • Healthy boundaries will help boost your self-confidence so you can continue doing an excellent job while also prioritizing yourself.
  • Stop apologizing constantly: It can become so ingrained in our day-to-day lives that we often apologize for small things that were not our fault.
  • The more positive energy released into your world, the more positive results you will receive back from it. 

I hope you realize that you deserve to feel good about yourself and your life. I hope you can use these tips to make changes and stop adhering to what everyone else wants! It will not be an easy transition to change your habits, but it will bring you so much purpose and fulfillment! You CAN stop being a people pleaser and overcome nurse practitioner burnout!

If you are interested in learning more about overcoming nurse practitioner burnout, check out Burnout Bootcamp for NPs! This online course will help you learn to create work-life balance and conquer the burnout, even if you work full time! Learn more at Burnout Bootcamp for Nurse Practitioners.

Erica D the NP is a family nurse practitioner and burnout coach. Erica created The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner to help overwhelmed APRNs create work-life balance, overcome nurse practitioner burnout, and advocate for themselves. The Burned-out Nurse Practitioner offers online courses, coaching, and support. Learn more at www.burnedoutnp.com

For time management and charting tips, check out The Nurse Practitioner Charting School– The one stop for all documentation resources created specifically for nurse practitioners. Learn more at www.npchartingschool.com

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