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Burnout: Part Three

On balance, this is not a time for action or trying to make solutions happen -- the effort to do these can make the burnout worse; this is a time to come to stillness, to wait and see, to get out of the situation and find the space to allow the solutions that are waiting within to emerge. Thus:-

Retreat - There are lots of possibilities, but getting temporarily out of the unhealthy conext and creating the space (the sacred space -- where there is time for ourselves which allows the new insights and healings to emerge) for the next steps is a priority.

Rest, Re-energize, Recuperate - Looking after our physical wellbeing by eating, exercising and sleeping better are part of the process, coupled with time to reflect on what is going on inside.

Reconnection - This problem cannot be solved alone, despite often very strong feelings otherwise. Disconnection in retreat is not the answer, reconnection is what is called for, so the support of a wise counsellor who can guide us through the reflective process is essential. Birthing within us what needs to come forth is unsafe alone -- we need a “spiritual midwife,” one or more, to accompany us through this phase.

Recollection, Reflection, Re-visioning - as we recollect what has gone on, we can start a process of re-visioning our lives. Using all kinds of reflective, insight and awareness building processes, such as guided meditation, the Enneagram, inspiring literature, prayer, spiritual direction and so on. Thus we can begin to return to that place in ourselves where we feel at home.

Recovery, Right Relationship - A sense of meaning, purpose and connection in life - the very stuff of spirituality. It may become clear to us through this process what has to change in our lives - a different career, a renewal or letting go of a relationship and often and most especially learning to live our lives with what has heart and meaning for us with a deeper connection to our spiritual needs.

As we burnout we tend to “hang on” to normality as best we can, or struggle to “go back” to the way things were (there is no going back, our bodies, souls, hearts and minds will not permit it!) One of the signs of a healthy recovery can be our willingness to let go of something - a relationship or a job, for example, that we have been working so hard to stay with. Equally, we may find that the re-visioning process enables us to stay with a job or relationship, because something in ourselves has changed, some change of consciousness or awareness that helps us to be in relationship ourselves and others in new and less harmful ways.

Renewal through burnout is about re-birthing ourselves into the world, about living more authentically with what has heart and meaning for us, living from a place of essence, of soul.



Feb 17, 2022

Thank you Stephen, for your wisdom, care and compassion. Your book - 'Burnout' has helped me so much. Indeed, I finally feel like I have found resonance with the truth about burnout. My experiences, (yes, more than one) left me feeling that I was a hopeless case. It was terrifying and a very lonely place. So many people have tried to advise me - suggesting management training, Gantt Charts, outsourcing, lists, (really? I was the woman with lists of lists!) and so on. It became so hard to even discuss my predicament as I knew the suggestions would just entail more work. I felt inadequate and lost. I have suffered admonishment from friends and colleagues who had also grown weary…


May 08, 2018

Such truthful comments. Getting out of the ratraced, economiccaly driven western paradigm is hard work. The benifits of coming home to my authentic self by allowing time for contemplation , the space to listen to my inner wisdom and engage in connection to my divine (christian divinity), and by stepping out of this hectic world on a daily basis brings me the peace I crave. I have a sacred space to which I retreat at the bottom of my garden in London-I've named it The Shalom Studio! Love & Light Ali x

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