“I feel disconnected from myself” is a repeat loop in a burned-out woman’s head. Interrupt the cycle by repairing the relationship you have with yourself.
Do you have desk-day vacation fantasies? I sure do. Mine usually involve jetting off to a warm beach, a dripping gelato in one hand and margarita in another, with a hot (of age) cabana boy rubbing my feet, his cavernous eyes assuring that I really am okay.
Why do we believe that a vacation will solve our burnout? It’s as if leaving everything behind makes you come back to yourself.
As women, you and I have been socialized to attend to everyone else’s needs before our own. This expectation extends to work, where our needs go unmet for long periods of time. Off hours, your first instinct is to reach for something that will
Food, wine, online shopping, TV and social media, flirtation, sex, even expensive vacations … all fine things, but do they represent pieces of you that are missing?
Self, Work, And The Loss of Connection
The academics say that burnout is a state of emotional exhaustion, a sarcastic attitude, and reduced productivity. The World Health Organization classifies burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” that comes from not being able to handle workplace stress.
Basically, this means that you are tired and can’t get stuff done anymore because of work.
You’re going to hear over and over that burnout comes from stressors that you just have to manage better. Anyone here have a cranky boss, commute hours in traffic, or have a never-ending task list? But that’s only part of the truth.
Burnout comes from a loss of connection. We may need and want a paycheck, but the erotic energy that makes work great is fueled by relationships. The Oxford dictionary defines relationship as “the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected.” Burnout, essentially, is like a failing relationship.
Erotic energy is fueled by relationships.
Three Relationships That Just Aren’t Working Anymore
When you are burned out (disconnected), there are three relationships that aren’t working.
Relationship With Self
Your achievements as a working woman give you pride, as they should. But do you feel equally proud about other, more hidden parts of yourself, like your desires and dreams, and even your physical body? When you are disconnected from yourself, your needs go unfulfilled because you don’t even know what they are. In a way, you have abandoned yourself.
Relationship With Work
Just like your human relationships, you have a relationship with work. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship; you give your time, skills, and talent, and you receive rewards via a paycheck, advancement, and (hopefully) fulfillment.
You feel a lot of energy in the early stages of a relationship, but through time and stressors, that energy fades. Unattended to, your relationship with work can end up feeling broken, stuck, and, in toxic cases, abusive. You are then forced to make decisions whether you will stay, go, or change in some way so that you can make the relationship work.
Relationship with Something Greater
One hundred years ago, women didn’t often work outside the home. Obviously, things are different now. Women work not just because we have to, but because we want to.
Work is now about Something Greater. Whether you understand it as a life purpose, a Divine calling, or a pathway to a higher good, work gives you a sense of meaning. When this meaning goes stale, one of your deepest relationships completely dissolves. You are lost, stuck, and devoid of joy.
One Simple Rule For Self-Evolution
To beat burnout, you must step into your your erotic energy. You have become disconnected in one or more ways, and by accessing the energy of oneness, you bring those fragmented parts back together again.
But which relationship do you start with, when you feel so tired, out of control, and overwhelmed?
First, come back to yourself. That repeat loop — I can’t do this, it’s too much, I’m not enough — stops (or at least slows) when you see and nurture your own soul the same way you attend to a cherished friend or loved one. From there, you have the power and the presence to work on what needs working on next.
Self-Evolution: See and nurture your own soul the same way you attend to a cherished friend or loved one.
In this connected state, you are grounded. You are reposed but totally present, wholly connected, receiving what is neglected, ignored, pushed aside, and unmet in the attendance of everything and everyone else. Allowing almost-naked openness, depth through breath, your soul to be warmly bathed in radiant light.
A connected self is your truest self.
My vacation fantasies are not about the actual experience of vacation. They are about being present in the experience of vacation. They are about re-knitting the pieces of me that have been unraveled in the day-to-day. Is it time for you to work on your most important relationship?
Need more practical help to beat your burnout? Get Beyond Burnout, the book that helps you make things work again.