A few blogs ago I wrote about recovering from burnout. In that blog I mentioned that I believe there is a spiritual aspect of burnout and that this occurs when we have starved our soul from what it yearns for, when we have become disconnected from ourSelves.
When I experienced burnout, I understand now that I was disconnected at many levels. I was in a failing marriage, my career was not going as planned and was incredibly unfulfilling, I hated my body, felt like a horrible mother and at the time, felt that I could fix everything if I simply gave more of myself. And so I did. I gave and gave and gave until depletion. I gave to everyone except the one person that needed it the most. MySelf. And so my Soul did what it could to get my attention and created a crumbling structure all around me until it broke.
When I moved into an apartment after separating, I had every other weekend to myself and for the first 6 months of being on my own; I used to spend that weekend busying myself as much as possible. I would clean, I would do groceries, rearrange things, walk around the city for hours, all to avoid spending time in stillness and giving attention to myself. When I did pause in stillness, unable to busy myself or give of myself to someone else, the tears would come and I would cry myself empty, until there was nothing left, until it was time for the kids to return home for the next two weeks. It took me 6 months to realize that all the busy-ness was all in an effort to avoid those moments of stillness and grief. I began to learn that you cannot make others happy and that you need to take responsibility for your own joy and fulfillment. I had ignored my needs for so long that I had become spiritually ill. I called it Soul Flu; fatigue at a Soulullar level.
My definition of soul flu means that you prefer to repress your emotions, your desires and ability to live life to its fullest, instead harming yourself by turning to self-denial. Full disclosure: that is still my default mode when I fall out of alignment but I can recognize it more easily now. I realize that the term “Alignment” is a little vague and so I think of it as discovering the essence of your being and the deepest values by which you live. Being connected to a higher source of intelligence or power, identifying with something greater than the material world or your small/mind-self.
Getting back into alignment is about feeding your soul, your authentic Self, allowing yourSelf to receive. This is a massive shift when you’ve been so outwardly focused; making sure that every single other person is taken care of before noticing that you need the same level of care. It’s also about releasing the need to dictate exactly how things will unfold for you, releasing the rigidity and control and allowing yourself to step into surrender. Surrender allows you to move more effortlessly towards what it is that calls you, what it is that your Self desires. For me, stepping into this receptivity has required me to soften, to move out of the more masculine, outwards get-it-all-done energy that I often find myself in when striving to make things happen!
Baby steps to allowing yourself to receive might look something like saying thank you when someone compliments you. Saying thank you when someone offers you a gift. Saying thank you when you have a moment of stillness. And I mean truly saying thank you, without argument or way to deflect the gift being offered. I observe people shut down receiving so often, like when out for lunch with a friend and the friend offers to pay and trying to deny it, being given a compliment and telling the giver of said compliment that they are wrong or deflecting it by complimenting them back immediately. This may be an oversimplified example, but this energy brings up a questioning of whether or not you deserve the gift and diminishes the power of the offering. It shuts the door you yearn to open for your Soul. When someone offers you a gift from an authentic space, breathe and allow it to permeate you, allow space for receiving. This is a small step toward bigger allowing.
Take a moment and check in with yourself; if you’ve experienced burnout, or suspect you might be burning out, you can look back at that previous post, and check in with yourself on the emotional spectrum.
Emotional signs of burnout include
Lack of interest in general activities
Feeling like you’re in a fog
Stepping into allowing means moving towards a more trusting space, which can be frightening, especially when boundaries have been weak. It means shifting your perception that it all rests upon your shoulders. It means letting go in a lot of ways. While that may seem frightening, it also means that you are making space for more freedom. Freedom in your relationships, in your day-to-day activities and in yourSelf. This letting go is another step towards balance and reconnection with who you truly are.
Ways to create the space of allowing include:
Time in Nature
High Quality Nutrition
Speaking kindly to yourself/monitoring your inner dialogue (would you say this or accept anyone saying this to your kids is a good check point)
Getting adequate sleep
Are you ready to begin allowing more freely?