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Recently, and for the first time in my life, I experienced a burnout phase.
It is said that burnout is when our brain starts to run too fast and “burns out” of its normal pace, its normal rhythm.
In a nutshell, it happens when too much is taking place.
However, what I discovered is slightly different. Burnout happens when what we’re doing in our daily routine creates an imbalance—a disconnection with the self.
Burnout happens when the madness of our daily lives causes a dissociation with our true essence, our soul, which is serene, and so our brain takes the lead and says “No.”
Burnout is a powerful defense mechanism against our own core energy, our own being. It is the last, most potent way that the body knows to demand closure, or distance, from something that is deeply wrong.
My own fall into burnout was fast and insidious.
I had recently joined a new company and the workload was heavy. I felt that I needed to prove my professional worth to others—but most importantly, to myself.
I found myself seeking external recognition, the kind of praise that would prove that I was truly great and up to the task, professionally.
The amount of things I needed to do, emails I needed to send, and people I needed to connect with and respond to—at a fast pace, of course, otherwise projects could suffer a setback, which would be harmful to the whole scheme of things—grew in time, and precisely as I was doing a good job.
When you do a good job, you are given more to do. And if you are fast, the work continues to increase to ensure you don’t have any empty space in your day.
Experiencing an increased workload undoubtedly limits the time we can find to reflect on our own lives, to take a step back, to observe what is going on, to introspect. When we work almost constantly, our space to feel, to see what is actually happening, to develop a conscious perspective of our lives becomes almost null—basically zero.
We need free time and space, on a daily or even weekly basis, to be able to take a mindful step back from our routine and check in with ourselves. To ask ourselves, “Is this right for me?”
Our modern society has blended the idea of success with the action of doing. But I would define success as doing and being what we like—or better yet, I would define success as an alignment with one’s authentic self.
What is life about if our time and energy isn’t used in the direction that feels most true to us? In the direction of the imprint that we want to leave?
The older I get, the more I realize that the most precious things we have in this world are our time, our energy, and our life force—and we must do our best to not give these up to external environments or factors, whose way of functioning would swallow them.
As my own burnout was developing, I was less and less able to find room to do anything but work. It began affecting my personal life and relationships, as well as my creativity and my passion for writing.
Strangely, I didn’t even realize this could be burnout until I began experiencing eye aches and feeling like my body was ready to give out. I didn’t want to do this anymore. It was as if my body decided to send out an emergency signal, an alert—otherwise, I wouldn’t have listened.
When I became aware of my situation, I worried it was too late. I was already finding it difficult to concentrate and felt like I would need massive amounts of sleep in order to regroup.
I began to process things quietly, within myself, trying to feel into what was really happening. I was awaiting the real answer—not the type of inner message that comes fast and furious, like a trauma response, but more the one that settles softly and feels right within our heart and soul.
Eventually, I decided to move on and quit this position.
I doubt things would have changed, both with my own needs as an individual, given my energy and personality, and with the needs of the company, given the rules it functions by.
Moving on can be graceful when we know deep down that it is the right thing for us.
Moving on, more than being a release, is saying yes to new beginnings.
All experiences are teachers, and I know this one was too.
I know myself better now, and this lesson has no price.