Jumping into the Blackhole of Burnout
One of the places I used to work was not set up for the success of its employees. I didn’t know it at the time, so fell, like many have, into a pit of burnout. This was a long process. The interesting part was that I didn’t recognize that’s what was happening.
At the time, I thought I was working hard. I thought that putting the firm’s needs above my personal needs was expected. I was often told that the firm cared about me and wanted me to have a personal life. Instead of giving me permission to take care of me, I worked harder.
I think, on some level, I had a fear deep that not working hard, meant I wasn’t doing enough. That I wasn’t enough. But all that did was push me deeper into the blackhole of burnout.
What Burnout Looks Like
Burnout is an interesting beast. It’s the kind of creature that sneaks up on you in the middle of the night, when you think all is calm and secure. It makes you think it s appearance is sudden, when in reality, it’s been there for a long time. It’s the kind of creature that will latch on and suck out all energy and awareness that anything might be wrong. Burnout is the beast who whispers into your ear, “do more. You can never do enough.”
Burnout is taking yourself past the point where you want to stop; where you feel like you are on fumes and cannot physically, mentally, or emotionally do more, and then going the extra mile. Burnout is saying “yes” because “it’s just a little thing, and I really don’t mind,” when you want, with every fiber of your being to say NO. Burnout is looking outside of yourself for validation or confirmation that you matter.
Choosing YOU to Combat Burnout
I recognize these things now, but it took months of extra personal compassion and not “measuring up.” Everyone is in a position to allow themselves permission to do less. However, few of us take the opportunity and recognize burnout for what it is. It is a challenge for us to step back and not continue down the path we have paved for ourselves.
We need to recognize there is a limit that each of us will reach in our lives. Instead of pushing past that limit and continuing to do more, we need to learn how to step back and take care of ourselves. We need to learn how to choose ourselves.
The Pre-Flight Checklist
I love the advice airlines give when going through their preflight instructions: “If the oxygen masks fall from the ceiling, put yours on first. You cannot help others if you cannot breathe.” This is the kind of permission we each need to give ourselves when living our day-to-day lives. Take a breath. Take care of yourself.
Even the small things we do for ourselves matter. As much as we want to believe others will take care of us, the truth is, we must do it first.
When we do not take care of ourselves, we not only push ourselves towards burnout but also self-harm. By making a decision to not choose ourselves, we are harming ourselves.
Even when others step up to help, they cannot carry our burdens. When we step up to take care of ourselves, we are choosing ourselves.
Remember to Breathe
Breathing is an incredible concept we all need to take time for. It is one of the simplest things we can do to help fight off and recover from burnout.
Check out this great TikTok video that puts “You are enough,” into serious perspective, by TherapyJeff