Trump’s hard-to-watch debate performance sums up how he’s governed…and 2020.
Trailing in the polls and a contender for an all time-worst, the strategy is to create further chaos, distraction, doubt of institutions that provide stability, and intimidation to ultimately cause voter suppression. Research suggests that when politics is too ugly and chaotic, citizens get political burnout and don’t vote. Many feel the same way about participating in life after the course of 2020.
We can’t give into a strategy that seeks to wear us down and make us so exhausted that we simply give up. And we will give up if we don’t stop to recharge.
A growing body of research supports that resiliency requires recharging and that we can’t overfunction our way out of it. In other words, if you haven’t used lockdown to get into the best shape of your life, learn another language, or make a Pinterest worthy home school for your children while managing professional demands, you did the healthy, resilient thing.
We can’t integrate, grow and learn from 2020’s trauma without a serious recharge, which requires a new way of thinking for those who overfunction.
That’s why this issue and the next issue of well-rounded are focused on Burnout as opposed to general wellness news roundup. I’m focusing on how and why we overfunction, and how it’s counterproductive to true resilience. Next edition I’ll be back with more on how to reframe and relearn your responses to cultivate true resilience.
These are deeply troubling times and your fears, anxiety, and actions are warranted AND burnout can have a silver lining collectively and individually. While burn out can count us out, it can also be the powerful place we need to be open to change and truly rebuild.
It’s Harder for High Achievers: It’s not all in your head high achievers: The pandemic is emotionally harder for you according to family therapist Dr. Pauline Boss, a specialist in “ambiguous loss”. Boss explains “The more accustomed you are to solving problems, to getting things done, to having a routine, the harder it will be on you because none of that is possible right now. You get feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, and those aren’t good.”
A high-achieving life creates blindspots on the degree of influence on life we have. Not knowing the line between what we can and can’t control often produces anxiety for high-achievers who have relied on over-functioning. At the heart of over-functioning is trying to control others to calm yourself down. This translates to telling family members how to eat healthier, saying “no worries” in an email to calm others, and over delivering with clients. It also translates into the question: “Am I doing enough for my Health? Work? Family? The world? Adapting to COVID was prime time for high-achieving, over-functioners but now…
Surge Capacity Is Spent: The “surge capacity” that we had at the beginning of the pandemic is exhausted. Dr. Ann Masten defines surge capacity as a collection of adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters.
For those of us who were firing on all cylinders at the beginning to re-arrange work, childcare and how we take care of our families health, anxiety and burnout are to be expected now. She explains “The pandemic has demonstrated both what we can do with surge capacity and the limits of surge capacity. When it’s depleted, it has to be renewed. But what happens when you struggle to renew it because the emergency phase has now become chronic?” This often translates to anxiety which is our bodies “gas light” warning us that it’s time to refill our physical and emotional safety tank.
Recharging is Necessary for Resilience: We must look to our anxiety as a symptom of physical and emotional imbalances and understand that we can’t renew our surge capacity with more over-functioning. When you stop over-functioning, many other feelings we were trying to push through with the over-functioning emerge. Contrary to popular belief, resilience is about how you recharge, not how you endure.
We don’t and can’t recharge or be resilient by trying to do more. We must address and deconstruct the narratives around our culture that glorify busyness and productivity as well as our own root cause. We must sit with our anxiety and burn out and identify our physical and emotional imbalances first before trying to “fix it”, especially if we don’t know the root causes of our anxiety and burnout. This state of being allows us to listen to our inner voice and to create a sustainable solution for what we want beyond the grind for ourselves, our families, the marginalized and the planet.
“Fixing and helping create a distance between people, but we cannot serve at a distance. We can only serve that to which we are profoundly connected.”
Helping, fixing and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul.
Service is a relationship between equals: our service strengthens us as well as others. Fixing and helping are draining, and over time we may burn out, but service is renewing. When we serve, our work itself will renew us. In helping we may find a sense of satisfaction; in serving we find a sense of gratitude. Service is a relationship between equals: our service strengthens us as well as others. Fixing and helping are draining, and over time we may burn out, but service is renewing. When we serve, our work itself will renew us. In helping we may find a sense of satisfaction; in serving we find a sense of gratitude.
~Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen
Burnout is something I am all too familiar with. I hit a wall this June and was sidelined with a major illness as a result of all I was trying to do while being a new Mom with very little sleep and running a business.
And I also burned out a few times before from building my business. In this Insatiable episode, Juliet Burgh, former cohost and I, share personal experiences with how to recognize and recover from burnout, how “compare and despair” causes burnout, and mindset shifts to stop feeling like you’re falling behind and powerless to overwhelm.
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