Why I Don’t Promise to Banish Burnout (& What I Offer Instead)

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. ~ Victor E. Frankl

In this week’s letter I’m tackling the topic of burnout. I have yet to meet a woman that hasn’t experienced exhaustion in one shape or form. We need solutions and ways to “banish” burnout.

But, you’ll never hear me say I can eliminate burnout forever.

I’d like to. Actually I really, really want to, but it’s simply not a promise I can make to you.

Why I Don’t Promise to End Burnout

Burnout is complex.

It’s the tangle of dusty old beliefs we have about work and what is required of us as women + skills we have/don’t have to manage stress + systems, structures & organizations that embrace/don’t embrace wellbeing + the beliefs held work within our communities and networks about rest and effort.

The good news is we’re waking up to this complex problem.

Thanks to the Great Resignation etc. change is happening. I see great books, podcasts, resources, courses, coaching programs etc. that can support us with healing from burnout.

But be leery of claims that burnout can be eliminated.

Why can’t burnout be eliminated?

There are two main reasons that are relevant to my clients:

1) Unforeseen Circumstances
There are times in our lives when the pressure mounts because external events combine, often in unforeseen ways. Relief is nowhere to be found.

The Holmes and Rahe stress scale calculator, is a meaningful tool that helps quantify stressors. A quick look at this tool demonstrates just how quickly stress can compound — thanks to the different often unavoidable circumstances of life. We all have seasons where it seems like too much to bear, and we often have longstanding issues that don’t immediately resolve themselves.

I just did a quick score of my own — 195. That’s about the equivalent of the loss of two people. I’m curious — what is your score?

2) Personal Choice
What makes humans so incredible is that they are able to exercise choice.

Sometimes we don’t realize we’re in a moment of choice, sometimes we choose unconsciously, sometimes we make choices consciously. And we can choose ourselves into burnout if we’re not awake to its impacts on us. Of course it seems ridiculous to assume anyone would do that — but I’ve done it before. And I’ve learned from it, but I’ve done it.

So for these two reasons I don’t promise that you’ll never face burnout again.

But I do, however, offer something far more powerful.

What I Offer Instead

1) Deep Awareness
In working together, my clients women receive a powerful view into the beliefs they hold about work / rest, many of these are deep rooted and longstanding. This awareness is more than head knowledge, it’s also discovering how these beliefs drive habits, and how they keep us scanning for the results and success attached to these beliefs.

For true and lasting change to occur, women must become awake to their patterns, and learn to set them down or face the ongoing impacts of exhaustion and self-sacrifice these beliefs perpetuate.

2) New Skills to Thrive in Your Full Life
There are a host of skills women can learn to move out burnout. With their new found awareness, the skills they learn are:

Skill Bucket #1: “Shifting” Skills
Let’s not be naïve, the beliefs and habits we have about how to accomplish success run deep; we have internal voices and emotions that make our comfortable, well worn patterns feel like the best way forward — especially in times of stress.

The awareness you develop + shifting skills support you in moving out of your pattern to a place where you feel more able to choose a new way.

The most powerful examples of shifting skills include: pausing, anchoring to your breath, connecting to the world around you through your senses. And there are others!


Skill Bucket #2: Skills aligned to new beliefs
New skills to be in our increasingly complex lives, can provide us with ease. Our struggles with burnout can improve significantly by learning these skills.

Examples include:

  • Discerning what matters / who matters most in a situation instead of defaulting to meeting another person’s needs;
  • Accessing support rather than taking the burden of responsibility squarely on our own shoulders;
  • Becoming conversant in the language of our needs and becoming skillful in getting these needs met;
  • Learning to value and incorporate rhythms of rest into our lives
  • Learning the art of adjusting our pace to meet the demands of the moment;
  • Incorporating stillness practices on behalf of nurturing our intuition and wisdom;
  • Moving out of having good/ bad emotions and understanding the information our emotions can offer us.
  • And more!

3) Access to New Possibilities and Options
I believe we are always doing our best. Yet, in times of stress our access to options and possibilities narrow. We can only “see” what we can “see”. As Einstein said in his famous quote: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

In working together you “level up” and are more able to see and imagine new ways forward. Ways that we previously inaccessible.

What becomes possible is a different kind of “spaciousness” and choice. Where before the road of your life led straight to burnout, with your new possibilities and options in hand, you see there are many roads for you to take.

For example: A woman with a pattern of feeling fully responsible for everyone else’s challenges, may struggle to identify what her needs are. She may not be deeply connected to the importance of her own needs after years of being told to put other people’s needs before her own. Burnout may feel inevitable! After discovering this pattern and learning skills to shift out of it, equipped with new skills of being able to tune in to your own needs and priorities, you can start to see what’s possible for you, and feel a new kinds of spaciousness.

Why This Offering Matters

  1. Self awareness allows each one of us to discover how they are susceptible to burnout. For some the constant preoccupation with work with be a driver, for another, meeting the needs of everyone in their lives will drive them to burnout, for another, a low sense of their own needs will make it impossible for them to tend to what’s required. This awareness that you hold will help you assess your risks and how to manage them.
  2. Increased skills strengthens agency allowing you to shift sooner, quicker and more effectively. When you see a storm of exhaustion brewing, you can take new and different action inside a situation that in the past might of paralyzed or overwhelmed you.
  3. Improved ability to self resource. Remember we’re all met with different circumstances. It’s not “if” we’ll have them, it’s “when”. With this approach comes a generous dose of curiosity, compassion and courage allowing you to think into what you need or who’s help you require.

The Best News of All

I can’t promise you that life will be easy, And, I won’t promise panacea solutions that end hardship instantly.

But the amazing news is that you can receive support with awareness, skillfulness and the capacity to imagine new possibilities to meet the challenges of your life.

These three combine to help you get through the sticky and tricky times of our lives. And best of all, these skills become yours to use for years to come, your toolkit full of sustainable ways to live and meet the demands of your life.

Sending you curiosity, compassion and courage to be in your one beautiful life.

I write to offer you fresh perspective to open up a new view to what is possible for you as well as sharing practices to take steps in the direction of what you want. If you’re an accomplished woman who is redefining success with a new agenda in mind, consider signing up for my weekly e-letter: www.womenredefiningsuccess.com/the-tuesday-letter

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Susan Doerksen Castro

Susan Doerksen Castro

Entrepreneur & Integral Master Coach™ helping accomplished women redefine success so they can realize a new, more fulfilling agenda for their lives.