Burnout and Recovery part one – The Burnout
Des and Dora getting ready to lecture at NTI
Have you ever experienced burnout?
I mean the total absolute collapse of your world; overwork, the disillusionment of moral universe, endless fatigue while trying to hold it all together? Well, I have. Ironically, I make a living teaching burnout prevention. It goes to show that it can happen to anybody, and it will happen especially if you are passionate about your work.
There is something incredibly heartbreaking when your passion turns into fatigue.
When the meaning of your life turns against you, it is like a midlife crisis on drugs. As crazy as it sounds, I am happy that I got to experience it. Going through burn out gave me firsthand emotional experience that allows me to relate to folks going through the same, which in turn makes me a better lecturer on this topic. It is one thing to have intellectual knowledge, it is another to have felt it. And I sure felt it, and let me tell you, half the stuff that is written on burnout and how to prevent it not nearly enough to help. I ended up rewriting half the presentation.
I found almost everything written in current popular journals on burnout helpful only for 3 minutes.
You know the, think positive, take five breaths, take inventory of items of gratitude. In my experience when you are looking at your passion truncated down to endless tasks, when you are totally sarcastic about the state of existence, five breaths and trying to be grateful that you have running water just makes you wanna punch someone in the face. Yeah, not exactly yogic; but darn it, that’s how I felt. Even if I found a way to balance myself with breath and gratitude, I found it did not last. So I started searching for a more help.
There had to be a better way, and I found it.
Reading ancient philosophy saved me, studying history and human existence through time gave me perspective. Human beings have been struggling with the meaning of life since we evolved self-aware cognition, our libraries are packed with hundreds of thousands of pages from Vedic and Greek philosophy to Confucius to Emanuel Kant to Kierkegaard to Jean-Paul Sartre. Literature contained what I needed.
Through literature, I realized that I was normal, I was simply human, and I was not alone.
With this in mind, I was headed to NTI, an annual national gathering of ICU nurses, I was to give a lecture with my business partner Des Wood on resiliency. And we did just that, we dropped “measurability” we dropped “feel good” we dove into the human complexity. Ethical conflicts in medicine, lack of emotional support structure, the modern world of perfectionism, and materialistic wellbeing. We gave a lectured that sprang out of our everyday raw experience, and it was a huge success. We lectured to about 400 nurses and post-lecture we literally got ambushed with thank yous. We ran out of pamphlets.
We resonated, we related, we bonded with other humans in the audience.
And that is the crux of the matter, for resiliency, we must be honest, vulnerable, imperfect. Our emotions don’t need fixing, we need “normalizing” that is to experience that we are not going through it alone, that everyone has experienced the bottom of the pit from time to time.
That to be human is to be fragile, and if you care if you really really care about your work, at times, you will burn out. And you know what, it is worth it. It means that you are doing something hard and meaningful.
You just need to learn how to stand up and start again…
For that story wait for next week’s blog… part two- the recovery.
Did you ever experience burnout? Share your thoughts; how did you heal? What worked, what didn’t? Do you know anybody who is going through burnout? Share this blog, knowing that your not alone can make a difference.
If you are interested in lectures on resiliency and burnout prevention contact Des and Dora at Spira Mindful Wellness. Check out our website: m3bmethod.com