It seems like everywhere I turn people are burning out. Exhausted from trying to keep up with the pace of modern life. How and why is this happening and how can we make sure we don’t end up out of gas in our own life?
I have reached burn out too many times in my life. I have always been a pusher, extremely motivated, driven and achieving. When I was a child my mom kept me balanced as much as she could by convincing me to stay home and rest, that it was okay to take a break that I didn’t need to go- go all the time. But when I moved out for University, I was alone to face the world and my habits of driving myself into the ground. I had her voice with me of course and I would always call her and she would say ‘Your doing too much again, slow down’. I wouldn’t listen, I knew everything back then.
So I would get some cold, some virus, something that would slow me down and I would be forced to be bed ridden to rest. University was dotted with this cycle. Push, push, sick, sick, rest, rest, push, push.
The next test came when I entered the job market. By no coincidence I entered into a job field that glorified my extreme inner need to push myself and valued it. I quickly got more and more opportunities and the busier I got the more I didn’t realize how much of a break I needed.
After 6 months, I was burnt toast.
It took me years to figure out that I had adrenal fatigue. I had spend my last reserves and was having a hard time even going to the grocery store. The energy I had so easily wasted was so far from me now. Every little thing was a massive endeavour. It took me 2 years to get out of that state… 2 years of resting because I didn’t take the time when I was ‘normal’.
It was a tough lesson. It showed me how much we need to guard and protect our energy. That we are not machines and that human beings need time to rest, reflect and its not just for their bodies but also for their souls.
I was in a career I hated but I didn’t have time to even realize I hated it. I was living in a place I hated but I didn’t have time to realize or even think of moving. I was in a relationship that wasn’t working but didn’t have time to realize how unhealthy it was for me.
When we are soooooo busy and running around pushing ourselves we dont end up living the life that is authentic to us. We end up living a life as a slave instead of a life of choice. Because, when we stop that’s when we can make a choice – left or right or forward. But when we are running there isn’t any time to do that so we just keep going because its easier.
Why is this happening? Well I think there is many reasons why but I can only speak to my reasons and perhaps it will relate to you and your life. I was taught as a young child to do, that by doing I was worth something and if I wasn’t doing I wasn’t worth anything – so to survive in my young mind I started doing. I didn’t want to miss out on the attention, I didn’t want to be left behind. I wanted the love and so I did the role that was needed. Unfortunately, I created a habit that stuck with me for decades. This habit was reinforced because I would get positive attention when I did things, rewards, positive feedback. So of course I wanted more of that. It was also a way of fitting into society, I was an achiever, a hard worker and that was good. Our society rewards people that are this way by becoming CEO’s at all costs. Employers want their people to value their work above all else and be available 24/7 but this has a great cost on a human being. So society, helped to create this pattern in me and I see it in 95% of westerns. We are hard working addicts because we want the love, the attention and not to be the loser who isn’t capable of anything. This has created a super yang society, super masculine and super driven at the cost of the yin, of the feminine of the home and of our own ‘beingness’.
When I burnt out I couldn’t really do much but think. I noticed as I slowed down that I was pushing myself from within. It was so subtle but it was this inner pushing that was extending myself out of myself that was causing the fatigue. I was pushing past my boundaries. I was agreeing to things I didn’t have the energy for. I was pleasing when I didn’t want to please. I was doing when I didn’t want to do. When I slowed down this was obvious, before it was invisible. I had been blind to the world inside of me.
The busier we become the less we notice.
In a world of cellphones, social media, TV, news, work, subways, highways, coffee we need to make time to step back or at some point it will be too late and we wont have a choice. The body has a limit and it will protest for a while but at some point it will say ‘No more, sorry’, then you have reached past the limit and it is there that we learn that we are not invincible and living in balance isn’t really a choice, it’s a necessity.
What can we do?
- Watch your energy, how do you use it?
- Get to know what are your priorities in life are and focus your energy on those and if it isn’t something you care about, stop doing it and stop putting energy into it.
- Pay attention to what situations drain you and where you gain energy
- Ask yourself before you agree to something if you really want to do it and if you have the energy and resources to do it or would it put a strain on you?
- No is a complete sentence, you do not need to justify yourself
- slow down, do less
- Take adaptogen herbs but also make lifestyle changes
- Fit less into your schedule
- Take real vacations (Don’t fit a million things into your plan, go and rest that’s it)
- Less screen time
- exercise more
- stop feeding into the dynamic of being busy is good
- Don’t work for companies that don’t value your time off.
- Be less available
I hope this post gives you some valuable insights and self reflections.