If you want to be successful in life, there are basically two paths you can follow. One is the ambitious path where you push yourself: 'Work Hard, Play Hard'. The other is the introverted path where you pull success towards you: 'Be Like Water', to quote Bruce Lee. Both require hard work to reach. Yet only the latter brings you the kind of peace that heals and prevents depression and burnout. Let's explore.
Most people that fall into a burnout are intelligent and successful. Often they have everything their heart desires in career, friends and family life. They pushed themselves hard to get there. And exactly that pushing that has given them so much success, is now working against them. I'm no exception and I'm sure most of you have worked hard to achieve your goals as well. It's what we consider normal and it is the current societal paradigm.
I'm not saying that is bad. But both you and I are on these pages for a reason. We need to understand it is not only our lifestyle that lands us in the burnout. It's also not the pushing itself. It's the expectations that come with it. Burnout happens to you when either internal expectations are too high (you push yourself ) or external pressure is too high (you get pushed by others or (traumatic) circumstance). Usually for a sustained period.
This creates the stress that dis-balances the hormones and makes your body pull the handbrake. So, it's not your busy life per sé that causes the burnout. It's the heightened expectations. You have to accept that you can't control everything. Ultimately it is not your success that counts but your ability to handle yourself when you don't reach it.
Alleviation of burnout symptoms starts with that acceptance. And that acceptance puts you on a very, very different path. This path can best be described as the exact opposite of 'work hard. play hard'. That attitude made you strong, but also inflexible and rigid. Now you need surrender to the flow that your body is forcing you to take.
That is incredibly hard of course. Especially because your former path brought you so much success. Yet I found that following the flow, being like 'water' in your acceptance of what life throws at you, ultimately makes you much more successful. Now going with the flow does not mean inaction or a decrease in toughness. If anything, it's the opposite. It stands for a heightened awareness and connection with your surroundings that make taking action a much easier and effective thing to do. It literally feels like Kung Fu: the mastery of yourself.
I am aware that you are probably still resisting the flow and clinging on to your old life. That is understandable and you should always take baby steps. But I do want you to know that the second path ultimately will turn out to be the superior one. 'Work hard, play hard' may be a fun attitude for a time when you feel you should be brash. There is nothing wrong with it and I know I loved being in that state!
Yet I love myself even more today. The state of flow is fantastic. And my friends, family, colleagues, career... hell even my bank account agrees wholeheartedly.
Don't resist the flow. Try to anticipate it instead. Be like water.
And take it easy as always.