How to Choose Yourself and Avoid Burnout
The combination of ambition, creativity and a big heart mean you end up over committing to other people, not taking enough time for yourself and getting too close to the edge of what you can handle.
I’ve lived with PTSD symptoms from a young age, though I’ve only just recently come to understand that was what was happening. Stress has been a constant for my whole adult life, making all the usual strains of modern life as a woman bite even deeper.
I have been permanently hypervigilant, with a nervous system which is always “on”. I’ve tried to feel “safe” and get a break from the constant edginess by making sure everyone else was ok. This is an exhausting strategy. I got tired easily, and I’ve faced adrenal exhaustion and acute ill health more than once as a result.
The love you have for your children, your loved ones and for your work and your creativity are all deeply nourishing forces in your life. The big lesson for me has been how to use that love to fill me up and inspire me, instead of being a constant drain on my energy.
I learnt to choose myself, and I’m still discovering the many facets of building and maintaining a life which starts with me, even if it includes many other people.
Here are the three biggest things I’ve figured out over the while:
Lesson 1: Desire is a compass, not a distraction
When you start looking at your system as a whole, it gets a lot easier to understand how this works. A desire is an expression of something happening at a cellular level. “Go that way!” Why do you feel drawn that way? Because your cells know that they will do better on that course. They know that your system will thrive. That you will shine. Learning to trust my desire, my longing, my nudge, has been a core part of my journey home.
Lesson 2: Change is a thousand tiny choices
Transformation is rarely an angels singing, leaping off a cliff kind of experience. Your life is built in each moment. Each day you make hundreds if not thousands of micro-decisions, some conscious, some not so conscious. When you’re short of time, energy and will power, it’s the micro-decisions which will save you. To me, it makes the work feel light. It makes change ALWAYS possible. It means you can always manage SOMETHING. You can make change in the very next moment, even if you fucked up in this one. Many tiny moments of kindness build a new routine, a new habit, a new life.
Lesson 3: You always get to shine, even when you’re saying No
Ahhh boundaries. Saying No has been the biggest gift of all. There’s so much shame around choosing to say “I can’t/won’t do this”. It can feel like a real downturn to have to set a limit and say no. Really not sexy. What a failure.
I’ve learned that a delicious Yes very often needs some kind of No to precede it. You had to let go of something. You had to put an end to something. To free up time, energy, psychic space. Welcome to the Radiant No. The joyous “F%8^ Off”. The embodied boundary which knows, however much of a shit storm is about to rage, just what paradise lies on the other side of the limit.
You are a precious gift. The more carefully and diligently you attend to yourself, the more radiance, ease and joy you’ll have in your life. It’s already in your cells. You just have to come home.
Want some extra support with this?
Download my free guide: DO LESS. BETTER. 11 tools for success without burnout. For highly-sensitive, ambitious women.This will help you to put these lessons into practice.