In mid November, I declared myself "Out of Order". I was burned out mentally and physically. I, the coach, found my own dang self caught in a loop of striving and then buffering, striving and then buffering. I needed to pause. So I held up my white flag and surrendered. I surrendered to feelings, and fears and all the should's that haunted my every waking hour, and even some of the hours I was supposed to be asleep. My suffering was the resistance to myself. I was ignoring my internal child crying on the floor in her bedroom. I just needed her to stop crying and get back to work. Where was the compassion in that? Who was I becoming?
I turned to the wise words of Brené Brown from her book, "The Gifts of Imperfection". In it she talks about her old default of "digging in". The attitude she used to take when she was bone tired but needed to just dig in and keep going. "Just push through, soldier on, suck it up!" She decided instead to slow down and get more intentional.
The analogy made by the pilot and LDS religious leader, Dieter F. Uchtdorf fits here too:
"What do you suppose pilots do when they encounter turbulence? A student pilot may think that increasing speed is a good strategy because it will get them through the turbulence faster. But that may be the wrong thing to do. Professional pilots understand that there is an optimum turbulence penetration speed that will minimize the negative effects of turbulence. And most of the time that would mean to reduce your speed. The same principle applies also to speed bumps on a road.
Therefore, it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions."
So what is a wiser way of dealing with burn out? How can we work smarter, not harder? We are too tired to work harder! Brené gives us a good template that I put into practice and found it changed everything!
Get deliberate in your thoughts and behavior through prayer, meditation, or simply setting your intention
Get inspired! Make new and different choices that actually help heal your burnout instead of just buffering and trying to avoid dealing with it.
Get going. Take action.
I stopped and took an entire afternoon to meditate and journal. I wrapped myself in a cocoon. Instead of scrolling through social media or watching Netflix, I created safe space where I had no pressing time restraints and a quiet room to myself to listen to what I needed. This is what I learned-
As I was meditating, I was naming fear, fear, fear, scared, scared. Then love came into view and grasped fear and loved it. I felt like fear was neutralized. It got what it wanted. Love. It reminded me of how color is neutralized by its opposite on the color wheel. Blue plus orange is brown. Purple plus yellow is brown, red plus green is brown. Let’s say purple is fear, then yellow would be love. Isn’t that interesting?
When we have a strong emotion, like fear, we need its opposite to help neutralize it. Let’s look at this theory from another angle. Let’s just say we have the emotion of anger- and it’s red. We add a secondary emotion that is closely related like revenge or hatred and it’s orange because it is right next to anger. The color is intensified. I need to keep this in mind when working through our emotions, and especially when helping kids work through their own big emotions. Anger doesn’t need frustration. That only intensifies it. Anger needs it’s opposite to neutralize it- peace and calmness.
Another thing that came up was my longing to feel like I am enough right now. But that was hard for me to really feel as true for just “existing”. Don’t I have to do something to have value?
Then a voice came to me- “You aren’t a houseplant! You don’t just exist! And no you don’t have to do something to have value, you have to BE something”.
What am I? What attributes have I gained through life’s experience? What qualities do I possess that have blessed other people? How have I nurtured my own gifts and talents? Am I done? No. But for a minute, I just sat on a porch swing with God and enjoyed the view and everything I was. And with God, it is enough.