Burnout Makes Us Feel Hapless, Hopeless and Helpless

Burnout Makes Us Feel Hapless, Hopeless and Helpless

Written by Judy Klipin

We all have moments in our lives when we feel a little at sea and as though we have lost our way. When we feel as though we are bobbing around; isolated, lonely and afraid. When we question many of our life choices: work, love, friendships…

Like a boat in a storm. We don’t know where we are going – and even if we did, we can’t see enough to get us there.

That is what burnout feels like.

Exhausted, lost, scared, alone and lonely.

It doesn’t matter that we may be surrounded by loving and well-meaning family, friends and colleagues. Or living in a lovely home. It doesn’t matter how many degrees we have or how experienced we are. Or that we are doing work that, intellectually we know to be important and meaningful. On the face of it, we can be living a perfect life. But if we have lost our innate resilience (our ability to bounce back, to recover from hardship, to adapt to difficulties) then none of what we have feels true or real.

When we have burnout we feel hapless, helpless and hopeless.

When I first started working with the concept of Burnout, some years ago now, it was almost unheard of. Hardly anyone knew about it and it certainly wasn’t accepted as a real thing. Now, everywhere I look there are articles on Burnout. This article by the Harvard Business Review gives you an idea of how seriously burnout is starting to be taken.

Thank goodness.

Because, to my mind, burnout is an epidemic. And it doesn’t just affect people in the corporate world, either. I believe that burnout is an equal-opportunity condition that can affect anyone, anywhere. From stay-at-home moms to retired business people, to young professionals just starting out in their careers, burnout can pounce on anyone. It preys on people who struggle with setting and maintaining clear boundaries, who find it hard to look after themselves and who don’t pay enough attention to their own physical and emotional needs.

It is a normal part of life to experience periods of uncertainty and indecision. Life is never a straight line with clear-cut challenges and outcomes. There will always be times when we are unsure about choices we have made and paths we have chosen. But when those moments start to visit us more and more frequently, for longer and longer periods, we are in danger of moving away from normal, healthy existentialism and towards unhealthy burnout.

And, make no mistake, burnout is unhealthy. Left untreated, it can progress into diabetes, heart disease, strokes, depression and worse. We are still learning about all the consequences of burnout, but we already know that it is a severe condition that needs to be taken seriously.

When we reach that point of burnout when we feel like a small boat at the mercy of an angry sea, we need to seek help. We need to learn ways of self-care that will allow us to steer ourselves out of the storm and back to safety and health.

When we have boundaries that are too flexible, we find ourselves saying yes to things we don’t want to do, or no to things we do. We allow our ‘otherscentredness’ to dictate all our thoughts, beliefs, decisions and actions. And then we get exhausted, overwhelmed and resentful. You can recover from burnout and rebuild your resilience by paying more attention to your boundaries. These coaching programs will equip you with the insights and tools you need to regain and maintain healthy boundaries – and in the process regain and maintain a happy life…

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