4 Soul-Sucking Myths About Burnout (and How to Debunk Them)

4 - mindset mastery Jan 08, 2017

It’s Sunday night and that dread is kicking in. All the responsibilities that you once were able to manage so effortlessly are starting to drain you. You feel lost wondering where all your passion went. Do you need a vacation or it is something more?

If this sounds like you, there is a good chance that you are more than tired. You are burnt out.

And I get it. I have been there, done that and have not just the t-shirt but the whole clothing line! Stress today IS for real getting worse. The pressure for delivering immediate and ongoing results at work AND managing the complexity of home life is intense.

As a recovering burnt out high achieving woman, I wanted to share with you four soul-sucking myths about burnout and replace them with much needed truths that are grounded in scientific fact to help you rise above burnout and allow it to become an agent of transformation and growth.

MYTH #1: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BURN OUT

Burnout is real. It is more than being stressed. It is the experience of dealing with too many pressures that a) require too much of you physically and mentally and b) do not align with personal values and desires.

Stress unchecked and prolonged over a long period of time turns to burnout. In contrast to stressed people who can see an end in sight if they can get everything under control, burnt out people feel overwhelmed and lose complete motivation. Ultimately burnt out people get to a point where they feel that they have nothing more to give.

  • Myth Busting Truth: Chronic stress has a massive impact on our stress-response system and our adrenaline and cortisol levels. It is a medical fact that when stressors are always present, we feel constantly under attack and in “fight or flight” mode.

MYTH #2: ONLY WEAK PEOPLE SUFFER FROM BURN OUT

The truth is that people who burnt out are naturally high-achievers. They are the type of people who take on more responsibilities without being asked and step up to go above and beyond for others. In fact, according to burnout and resilience expert Paula Davis-Laack, “Studies show that even as people start to burn out, their willingness to help others remains high. For many, burnout actually increases their tendencies by triggering the “tend and befriend response.”

High achieving women are especially vulnerable to burn out certainly not because they are weak but because of the impact of extra accountability on the female brain. According to author and neurologist Louann Brizendine, extra accountability and responsibility requires testosterone. What men naturally possess, women have a fraction of. While obviously women can achieve the same as men, over time it exhausts us. With a fraction of the testosterone that men possess, bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan tires us at a hormonal level.

  • Myth Busting Truth: Burnout is not caused by weakness. It is an expression of a strength expressing itself in its shadow attributes.

MYTH #3: JUST GET MORE SLEEP AND EXERCISE AND YOU’LL BE FINE

Burnout is not about the quantity of what is on someone’s plate but rather their experience of what is on their plate. Quick fixes like a day off, day at the spa or even a vacation could provide a much-appreciated band-aid but they don’t solve the problem at the cellular hormonal level. And they don’t solve the problem because what causes burn out in the first place is far more complicated than not having a vacation or day off in a while.

  • Myth Busting Truth: Recovering from burnout is a process that involves purposeful disengagement and personal reflection to fully appreciate what is out of alignment and as importantly why.

MYTH #4: IF I PUSH THROUGH IT, IT WILL GO AWAY

I tried that for years and I wish with all my heart that this were true because facing burnout is uncomfortable. But once I stopped fighting it, my perception on the experience completely shifted in that I understood the higher purpose of my experience. It wasn’t that I failed or was off course. My discontent was that I was given a new course that was better aligned with my highest potential.

As a consultant, I tell my clients all the time that there are three reasons for change: pain, vision and consequences, with pain being the greatest motivator. Discontent is the most powerful source of creativity that is available to us. Your burnout is simply one expression.

  • Myth Busting Truth: Your burnout is the ultimate course corrector. Sometimes things have to fall apart or go awry in order for us to have enough of a motivation to make a much-needed change in our life.

Now that you know the 4 soul sucking burnout myths, maybe you’re ready to take meaningful steps to reclaim your passion and capacity for what matters most to you. I’d like to invite you to take the time to work through your burnout and let burnout do its intended work in you.

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