Maybe it’s time to face the uncomfortable question of who you are outside of your sacrifices, your work, and your résumé of exemplary endurance.
Is this why you are feeling burned out?
As I have worked to balance my own tendency to overwork, and as I have helped my brave and brilliant clients rewire their patterns, a common thread has emerged. And, it’s not about getting more organized, nor can it be reduced to the need to scale back our schedules in hopes of finding some much needed downtime. The real reason is much more pernicious and it’s hidden behind a deep wound….
The reason most of us have struggled to stop over committing and over scheduling is that we are afraid our work is our worth. Simply telling someone to “get more strategic” or “more realistic with their time use” is missing the true sticking point. After decades of proving your worth through your work, a wise slogan won’t help you make the breakthrough your weary soul is longing for.
The very real need to feel loved and valued is being “protected” by your constant struggle (or your lived resignation) to keep swimming. You probably feel like you cannot (realistically) do anything differently. Yeah, sure, when —the kids are older/your financial situation improves/relational challenges subside—you will finally be in a situation with less resistance and you can make a few changes. That time never really comes.
But there is also the inner critic that secretly judges others who’s lives on shore seem too easy. We only have a few people to judge in this category- because most everyone is nearly being swept away by the current! We take some consolation that, although we are living in or near the border of burnout, at least we are super responsible, highly capable, and doing the right thing in our many commitments.
We likely came from a family, and especially a mother line, of people who could really bear down and make things happen. We have taken pride in, and formed our identity around, being the one most capable in the group. The one who could hold it together and soldier on no matter what life threw at her.
And I want to bow and say, “Well done. You did it. You proved it beyond the shadow of a doubt. Your “soldier on” muscles are impressive. They have carried you through many dark nights of the soul and gotten you here in one piece. I am proud of your endurance and discipline. Now it’s time for those muscles to take a rest. It’s time to develop the complimentary strength of healing, integration (on a deep level) of the lessons learned in the battles you fought, and turning that pain you endured into wisdom. Virtue comes in many forms—not just being the Martyr through every decade of life.
Maybe it’s time to face the uncomfortable question of who you are outside from your sacrifices, your work, and your résumé of exemplary endurance. You may feel, that when you try to answer that question, you don’t have much to say.
You may feel that your work is and always will be your worth. If you couldn’t do anything for anyone from this day forward, how would you feel about yourself? Sister, you probably have accomplished a lot already. But, you likely are just getting started with what you can contribute to your family, community, and work.
That is why I want to offer: that it’s not an either/or choice. You can make great contributions, in a richly engage life. You can also live differently. You really can. A key component is the fuel you are burning as you live your days.
I call living from fear, duty, and emptiness burning dirty fuel. It clogs the engine it claims to deify- as the only possible way to live. It robs you of your joy. The years pass and you lose your spark.
“Dirty fuels that clog your engine”
fear-No one else will do it if I don’t!
duty-Feeling dragged along by life’s prior commitments.
emptiness-If you stop, who will you be and how will you find value?
Instead, we want to burn clean fuel that let’s our engine run longer, cooler, and sustainably. Also, we can actually enjoy the journey! What is clean fuel and how do we live from it’s power? We need to balance purpose with pleasure, rest with activity, and assimilating our life’s experiences with creating new ones.
We aren’t choosing between a selfish life and one of service. We are choosing a life of Presence, peace, and power. We are far more impactful in our actions and our interactions when we have taken the time to prepare our hearts.
We prepare our hearts by pausing daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually! We build reflection (time with no inputs: not reading or listening to anything….silence), digestion (reflection in journaling and/or the counsel of wise people around us), and then making a considered plan of action.
We then live from this plan. It is a plan where we put first things first and then let the rest find a spot in good time. We create space in the morning to tune ourselves to the Divine chord. We set said time in the evening to learn from the experiences of the day and to digest them in our Being before letting them go to Grace as we rest for the night.
We re pattern our weekends to have time for honoring what was done well, learning from where we missed it, and being receptive to direction for the week to come. An hour or two is optimal, but start with less if you need to.
You may think, “Rachel, that all sounds lovely, but you don’t understand my life. I cannot realistically live like that. Although it sounds nice, it’s out of reach in my current life circumstance.”
I will tell you, from my experience over 20 years of working with women who were saying the same thing— until life knocked them over hard enough, that they were open to seeing things they couldn’t see before—that you are spending more time “cleaning up” or being injuring by your current default state, than you will spend in this pause and plan approach.
If you don’t take the time to consider your strategy and it’s sustainability, you will be overwhelmed and exhausted by responding to the way life unfolds. The first step is to believe that something different could work for you—and better than what you are currently doing. And, to begin renewing your mental patterning that conflates struggle with value.
When we choose effective action, balanced with replenishment, we are able to have the impact we crave to contribute as well as the wholeness of health, peace, and Presence. I want that for you!
Cheering you on,
ps. If you would like to work with me to help you reach your goals, get more information here: Click here for details