I’ve spent the last month and a half pouring all of my energy, money, time and emotional labour into recovering from a case of burnout.
That doesn’t feel like the sparkliest or proudest thing for me to share as someone who’s known for preaching the benefits of self-care, but it’s the truest.
And I’m a firm believer in telling the truth.
Here’s what my burnout looked like: no inspiration to write, mysterious body pains that made me feel like I was eighty, resentment about getting up and doing my dream job every day, and rolling in bed from side to side for hours before falling asleep anxious about a million little things. Sound familiar?
(NONE of those things turned out to be “the problem” in the end. What you think is the problem isn't usually the problem. Always go deeper.)
It was brutal.
My burnout happened in slow motion, over months of saying yes when I should’ve said no, and repeatedly ignoring what was going on for me - but it also happened in a split second, a moment of awareness when I suddenly said the words “I’m burned out” out loud and then immediately wondered to myself, “How the hell did I get here?”
Thankfully, I took my own advice, and 1) slowed down to speed up and 2) trusted that I came by this burnout honestly. I applied my own Be With methodology and coaching approach to myself, and here’s what I learned:
BURN OUT IS THE RESULT OF LIVING OUT OF ALIGNMENT
A month into recovering from burnout my friend Alyssa messaged me to ask how I was doing. I instinctively typed back, “I’m coming back to myself.” I didn’t know exactly what this meant, but I had a sense that it was a piece of the puzzle in understanding what had happened.
Everything I teach as part of Be With is something I’m working on practicing in my own day to day life. At the the heart of Be With is my relationship with myself, my ability to be with me.
Being With myself means paying attention to what I feel, and honouring my feelings as information for me to listen to. Being With myself means being tuned into my wants, needs, intuition and inner child. Being With me means living from the truth of who I am, rather than from a place of trying to please or impress others. THIS is what I mean when I say the words living in alignment.
ALIGNMENT = Being in loving, attentive and fully expressed relationship with myself
After I noticed I was burned out, I realized that I had been living out of alignment with who I really am. I was getting ready to run an offering that felt like forcing (more on that soon), I was ignoring my body’s needs for care and attention, and I was avoiding tuning into my heart and some major grief.
Burnout isn’t simply the result of having too much on our plate at once - it’s more about having things on our plate that are out of alignment with who we really are.
WE LOSE ALIGNMENT BY AVOIDING OURSELVES
I began living out of alignment with who I am the moment I began to avoid myself.
We avoid ourselves for good reason.
Sometimes, it’s because we know that how we are choosing to live our lives is a serious departure from our actual wants and needs. We fear the consequences of getting honest with ourselves, and having to change what we’re doing so we avoid tuning in.
Other times, it’s because deep down we are in a tremendous amounts of pain and tuning into ourselves means tuning into the pain.
Both were true for me. Double discomfort = double avoidance.
And it’s OK. I get it. This is some scary stuff. And often, avoiding ourselves and our pain feels like a matter of survival. For most of us, we have to hit some sort of rock bottom to finally tune in. In my case, that’s what my burnout was - a rock bottom.
THE WAY OUT IS IN
The way out of burnout/misalignment is by diving in deep with ourselves - jumping into the deep end and wading through everything that has been calling for our attention that we’ve been ignoring.
For me, that meant a month and a half of accessing the right support, making difficult choices to bring my outer circumstances in line with my true needs, and doing the difficult inner work of grieving.
I saw massage therapists, shamans, breathwork practitioners, chiropractors, and trauma therapists to help me slow down, and tune into my body.
I sought counsel and encouragement from friends to put Be With Monthly on hold even after I’d already sold it to some amazing participants.
I dropped down into the depths of my own emotional process, committing to making space to grieve not having the relationship with my parents that I really long for, especially as I begin planning my own family.
I’ll be spending the next month sharing in detail about what this work has and continues to look like. It feels vulnerable, tender AF, and exactly right where I need to be.
And I'm inviting you along for the ride, because I think we need to be having more honest conversations about what we're feeling and thinking, as well as what we avoid feeling and thinking. ALL of it is is part of our full human experience, and I want us to learn to navigate it with more self-compassion, less shame, and plenty of grace.