The good news is we’re landing immediately.
The bad news is we are crash landing.
- Madagascar (the movie)
As some of you may have gathered based on my last post and the fact that it’s been longer than usual since this one, I have been sucked into the work vortex and am finding it difficult right now to hold enough in reserve for my other interests, writing being one.
Writing is a giver and a taker. It’s invigorating when you’ve done it but likewise, it can be like trying to force yourself to undergo an unnecessary root canal when you’re staring at a blank screen.
But enough about me.
I’m reading a book right now, Fried; Why You Burn Out and How to Revive. Sometimes our nightstands can tell us a lot about the head space we’re in. Do you ever find that? I’m not burned out though, just kind of dancing near the edges. The reason I picked up the book was this statement on the back which struck me as so succinctly truthful I was immediately interested in what else the author, Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., had to say. The back said this: “Revival from burnout is always about the recovery of lost authenticity.”
Borysenko explains how burn out is not the same as depression but is rather a crisis brought on by a separation from our own needs, a separation from the things in life that keep us vitalized, invigorated, hopeful, excited, and energetic. This can come in the form of relationships, work, career choice, a life pace that is ill fitted, and anything else that is draining.
My favorite chapter of the book so far, there have been a couple that got a little more psychologically scientific than I cared for, is titled ‘Personality, Temperament, and Burnout’. In it, Borysenko discusses innate personality types and their needs, and how if we ignore or are unaware of our own needs (what we need in order to feel satisfied) we are much more likely to end up burning out. Everyone has their own makeup of what needs are most important for them to thrive, it’s sort of like our built in hardware. The three main needs that she discusses are
1) The need for achievement - You like to set high standards and always do your best and then equally important, you need the corresponding recognition for your achievements. (This describes me about 95%)
2) The need for affiliation – The desire to be liked, for everyone to get along, and to have very minimal conflict.
3) The need for power – There are two types A) the power to make things go well for the group at large by virtue of their vision (leaders) – (the rest of me lies somewhere in that description) and B) the need for a strong personal level of power or control over your own life. Strong need for security, set schedules, etc.
For example, if a great need for you is personal power, than although you may be able to survive in an environment that is chaotic, unpredictable, and disorganized, you will never thrive. Borysenko makes the point that for every situation or relationship you spend a lot of time in that does not meet your needs; even if you feel like you are mostly ok with it; you are ultimately swimming upstream and eventually swimming upstream always gets exhausting.
A good way to make sense of this is the way we learn to decipher whether we are introverts or extroverts. Which one gives you more energy? Are you more energized and recharged by spending time alone and even when you enjoy time socializing you need time to yourself to recharge (you’re an introvert). Or is a little alone time enough and you want to get out there and socialize most of the time because that’s what makes you feel the most recharged (you’re an extrovert)?
The important take away is that in order to really thrive and be happy, we need to realize what our own core needs are and then respect them by managing your life accordingly.
Every big part of your life that is not contributing to your energy is a drain, and if you have too many drains you are probably feeling exhausted. That’s not depression. That’s burnout.
Thoughts on this? I’d love to hear how you relate to any of this. Which of the three needs mentioned above are your biggies? How do you mitigate things, situations, or people that drain you?