Breakthrough Burnout

Breakthrough Burnout – Some helpful thoughts when faced with a setback

Burnout is as much a curse as it is a gift. It was the slap in the face I needed in order to stand still, become aware of what is going on around me and within me. I was so caught up in being lived that I needed an intervention. It was the only way to get me to adjust course on a path towards growth instead of self-destruction. From my learnings, I like to share some helpful thoughts. That day, when I went to see my doctor, I had no clue what was coming. My first reaction when handed the sicknote was: “I don’t have time for this”. I needed a sick note to give myself permission to slow down. And this is where my transition started towards a human being as I had become a human doing. We all take a wrong turn in life, but with experience comes growth. I’m here to share some of my personal takeaways hoping to inspire you on your journey.

“The road to happiness does not exist. Happiness is the road” – why mindset is a gamechanger

In our search for meaning and happiness, we tend to lose ourselves in creating conditions that will make us happy. I was no different until I realized that being happy is just about being happy. It is a commitment in feeling good, no matter the context or circumstances. Only then you allow all the rest in your life to happen for you. You might wonder what about the bad moments? When I feel frustrated, impatient or sad I tell myself “life is about moments”. Everything passes.

So treasure the good moments by being in the moment and recognize that bad moments are temporary as well.

Looking at life in this way will take away a lot of stress as you create your own meaning by letting it be for what it is. A beautiful wave of moments.

Put the energy back where it belongs

You can’t delete emotions, nor can you run away from them. So now what? Well, my solution is to see them for what they are …. messengers. Instead of working against me, they now work for me. They tell me something about my behavior. So when these emotions arise I ask myself what I do or don’t do enough so I can let go and move on. Energy is not limitless, so be aware of what you give your energy to and put the energy where it belongs (and have fun doing it).

Becoming busy with doing nothing

One of the hardest things I faced was figuring out how to stand still. When I was handed my sick note I was told to take it easy, to slow down. But somehow, I forgot how to. For months I tried different things: declutter my house in order to make space in the mind, therapy, exercising with a personal trainer, healthy diet, doing something nice for myself each day … But after 6 months of this, I did not feel progress and became more and more impatient. So I decided to leave and bought myself a one-way ticket to Cuba followed by a year backpacking solo in Latin America. Only then I started to feel I was slowing down and I wondered …

Why did I have to fly to the other side of the world to be able to unwind?

I was in a comfort zone that was defined by different things then what I needed in order to slow down. If I wanted to become busy with doing nothing I knew I had to change scenery. Rest assured, this adventurous way of living is not a must in order to feel better. The core message here is that in order to allow yourself to slow down, you need to be in a place that enables you to unwind.

Ask yourself the right questions

When going through burnout I asked myself a lot of questions. Especially the “how” of things as I had this deep desire to understand, hoping it would give me the answers I needed to move forward. Questions like: How did this happen? How is this possible? How can I get out of it … but in the process of healing, I’ve learned that my action-oriented-self needed to take a step back as these questions clearly did not serve me. But as I was getting myself more and more stuck I realized I needed to adjust focus and get clarity on the What. Only then the answers to the How followed naturally. It is crucial that you ask yourself the right questions. Questions that facilitate a thought process towards progress instead of facilitating a web of thoughts where you find yourself stuck in.

Breakthrough Burnout

Letting go is the new control

As a perfectionist, I have always set high standards for myself. I even blamed this personality trait as one of the root causes of my burnout. On the other hand, I felt a deep resilience against changing this. Why should I deviate from my standards? Why can’t I aim high all the time?

During the process of healing, I have learned that perfectionism is a beautiful tool if managed well. If not, it can become a prison with the bars being the standards you set for yourself.

As I managed to slow down, I started to notice that it was not perfectionism that drove me towards a burnout, but the meaning I gave things that happened around me. Once I realized the dynamics, I made a conscious decision to let go of all things that made me feel bad. And to focus on the things that would make me feel good by trying to find a meaning that makes sense and that makes me feel good enough. Only through this approach, I have gained back control as I learned to let go.

To many of us, Burnout comes as a surprise, a crisis where your body no longer asks for a change but demands one. But going to the process of healing, we can identify clear catalysts. If you would like to learn more, join me on April 10th where I will give you more insights and provide you with a roadmap.

Ines Gaston


door Jane Shaw (admin)