One of the trickiest subjects surrounding burnout is love. Our love life gets shaken up, for worse or better. Sometimes we lose a lover. Yet we can also gain love, including self-love, if we play our cards right. In fact, we can gain more love than we ever had before the burnout. So, let’s have a look at what we know, what we can do and what we need to learn to get this love thing right.
Before we move onto the key ingredient for a good love life, let’s start with the four different situations it can be in. Either you have a lover, or you don’t. And either that situation is negative or positive. For instance, if you have a lover but it’s not going well, it can be a burnout trigger. If you have a partner who is not the cause of the burnout, they can be a solution. If you don’t have a partner but truly desire one, it can be a trigger. And if you don’t have a partner but find one during the burnout, it can be a solution.
All of these situations are important. You’ll have to explore this within yourself. As always, slowly of course. But the one thing that looms large over all of this is self-love. Without a good portion of that all four situations can be tricky to navigate. A good relationship can become strained, a bad one even worse, the lack of one very uninspiring and a newly found one based on the wrong motives. Yes, love is complicated. So, I have a suggestion. Let us ignore all of these situations and get straight to the point: how do you love yourself more? Fasten your seat belts please…
Three things you can do to love yourself a little more
First off, start by forgiving yourself for your failures. Specifically why you got burned out since the way into a burnout is different than the way out. Forgiveness is hard of course. And forgiving yourself is often harder than forgiving others. But remember, nobody ever told you it was going to be easy. Contrary to what you may feel, you are not the first person to come into this situation and you won’t be the last. Failing and not reaching your expectations is part of life.
I would almost add ‘stupid’ to that last sentence, just to snap you out of it a little. We all fail. Quite frequently in fact. And that’s the understatement of the century. It’s a cliché but therefore no less true: by failing we get to see what it takes to succeed. Without failure, we would not even know what success truly is. In other words, you need failure. And you need to be fully aware of it. Especially now.
Which brings us to the next point. Being aware of your failures makes you lower your expectations, which is a very, very good thing. We experience huge pressures to succeed in love, especially in the noisy social (media) world of today. But love never was easy to begin with. It is not something that drops in your lap, it is something that takes a lot of practice and experience to get right (read this great article on relationships if you want to know more).
With a career and friendships we immediately accept the fact it will take a lot of effort for us to succeed. But strangely enough with love we have this subconscious notion that it’ll magically appear. Maybe because it feels that way when it finally does, and those love hormones make us forget all the hard work and negative emotions that made us learn about ourselves and brought us to that point in the first place.
So, embrace your negative emotions. They feel terrible I know. Excruciating sometimes. Trust me, I’ve been there many times. But they have a function: negative emotions are signals that show you were and how to act. They are the test that your heart and mind are putting in front of you, asking you to go straight through them and find your sunshine on the other side. And believe me when I say this: even when you are at your lowest, you will be surprised at just how strong the human heart is in this survival mode. Fully embrace the animal inside. It is what will get you out of your burnout.
You are an animal after all. Don’t let all the technology and modern systems fool you, we all are. And we all have many desires and emotions within us that are vying for attention. The strongest of those are about love, lust, sex and connection. Maybe that insight will help you forgive yourself a little quicker: love is a whirlwind of so many emotions, so many situations and so many fears and anxieties and commitment issues... It helps if you accept that turbulent flow instead of resisting it. Maybe even learn to enjoy it.
Using the burnout properly
The truth is that love is a struggle for everyone, every day, everywhere. Our happiness is often strongly linked to our relationship status. Happy or sad singles, happily or sadly married, happy or sad ‘friends with benefits’-like constructions, happy or sad in non-conventional relationships… you name it, it exists. So, with all of this happiness and sadness in endless possibilities constantly swirling around you, why not take a break?
Learn to love yourself first. Including all of your failures. It won’t be easy. But things that are worth it never are. And there is a very, very bright silver lining to it: if you love yourself, you’ll get into less trouble. Or should I say, the right kind of trouble? Just think of all the fuss you are spared if you manage to reach that point where your relationship status is no longer the determining factor for your happiness.
It’s called true love and it's inside of you. It's the base level that your burnout wants you to embrace. Everything else after that becomes a bonus. And however painful, it’s the burnout and the burnout alone that is finally showing you where to find it.
After all, that’s what this whole damn burnout thing is for anyway. Stupid ;)
Take it easy, as always.