Featured Wellbeing

Does burnout only happen when we are nice?

Google ‘burnout’ and you get a raft of symptoms or remedies. Once you have acknowledged the symptoms of burnout, the suggested remedy is to remove the stressor.

People chug on through the day. They read that they are to remove the stressor. But removing themselves is not the most effective solution either.  What if your job or family are the stressors? How do you remove that? Wouldn’t the removal of these stressors cause you more stress?  Instead, face the stressor and find another way to deal with the stress. Avoiding or removing is not problem solving.

I come across many people experiencing burn out symptoms. From health professionals, teachers, public servants, parents, managers and shop floor workers.

Burnout symptoms are feedback. Most read this feedback as ‘I am overworking’. I just need a holiday. I just need to find another job. When in fact the symptoms are feedback to tell you that it is time to ‘pull back’.  Yes ‘Pull back!’. You may ask how is this not the same as avoiding or going on holiday?

When your energy level drops and your drive is depleted.  This is physiological feedback to pull back from what you are doing. Not avoid what you are doing.  It may seem to be a fine distinction.  But this fine distinction will put you on the trajectory of wellness from burnout.

When you are experiencing burnout symptoms such as fatigue and a lack lustre drive.  It happens because you are being ‘nice’.  You are being polite. You are looking to help or assist others. I do not mean the occasional niceness. I mean you will ‘be constantly nice’. As you read the word ‘constantly’, and you picture what this looks like.  You can feel your own body’s energy drop.  That energy drop occurred with the phrase ‘be constantly nice’. This is creating burnout. You are taking away the other person’s accountability. Accountability for their own welfare, their own learning, their own role.

What do you do when burnout strikes?

Give the accountability back to the person by criticising them. Yes, criticising them. Watch how quickly they sit up straight. Watch how quickly they snap back their own accountability.

Your own energy levels will return. This works every time. The answer is not in avoiding but the answer lies in pulling back with a quick slap.

So, does Burnout only happen when we are nice?  Yes, being nice, plays a major role in burnout.  Especially when the niceness is a pretence or forced.

The next challenge is “How do I criticize someone, without hurting them?”. The answer to that will be in another post.

If you want more details on managing your own burnout and get the zest back into your life. Then contact me for a ‘Beat the Burnout session’.

Footnote:  In May 2019 the WHO (World Health Organisation) classified burnout as an “occupational phenomenon”.
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