In general, I enjoy being of service. I derive genuine pleasure from helping friends and colleagues, whether it's with a project or just getting someone a cup of coffee. I know I am burned out when someone asks me to do something, and I feel terrible. The task need not be complicated or time-consuming or even unpleasant. When I am burned out, being asked to do one. more. thing. can lead me to react in ways that are not constructive, to put it mildly.
Being able to recognize when we're heading toward burnout but aren't there yet gives us options. Part of the art of understanding when we are digging ourselves into a hole is being in tune with our inner being, as opposed to having an attachment to who we think we're supposed to be according to some external ideal. We can burn out climbing the corporate ladder, and we can burn out sacrificing ourselves in service. I've done both. The particular path we're on when we burn out will vary, but a fundamental contributing factor is ignoring the signs we get when we are on a downward spiral.
Making a practice of setting aside time each day, even if it's only 5 minutes, to take stock and be honest with ourselves about how we’re feeling - not how we want to feel or how we think we should feel - is invaluable. Journaling in itself can be very helpful and therapeutic, and reading over a few weeks of entries down the line can help us get the message we need to hear much earlier than we might otherwise. I have been shocked sometimes when I have read over my journal after I'd reached burnout. If I had bothered to pay attention earlier to what I'd been communicating to myself for months, I could have taken constructive action and spared myself a lot of suffering.
We all have the innate capacity to reach deeper levels of integration, which in turn supports our ability to make wise choices and to navigate our lives in a way where we can sustain ourselves through storms, if not avoid them altogether, instead of going from shipwreck to shipwreck.
Working with a coach can help you to come up with a plan to avoid burnout that is suited to your unique circumstances.
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