What is “burn-out”

Photo: Pavel & Petruta

“Burn-out” is that state when you are so tired that you feel angry all the time. No matter what people would try to tell you, you answer with anger, and you wish people didn’t see you, so you won’t be forced to talk to them.
Is that state when you don’t feel like getting out of your house to do anything.

Even worse, when you are at home, you don’t have the energy to care for yourself, like getting out of bed, taking a shower, making and eating breakfast, eventually cleaning your room, and so on. It can also be mistaken for depression; yet, it is not that in all cases. Depression is linked with sadness. I am not touching this subject here.

I see many people who are unhappy with their lives because they think they do not do anything. In their world, waking up in the morning every day, having a shower every day, making meals every day, walking to the grocery store once a week or often, talking to someone, having a walk every day, taking care of their kids, and family every day, are not considered actions. People who feel they are useless even though they DO so much every day and are so much every day.

When I point all these actions to some of them and who present burnout behavior, they realize that they are running their lives on an “auto-pilot”. They don’t think anymore and cannot take the time to enjoy all these small joys in life. It is a “speed” that they are functioning after, which they do not seem to have control over.

Many times I notice they do not even breathe. The breathing is shallow at the top of the chest, and very few deep breaths are going all the way through the bottom of the lungs. Sometimes none. Breathing is exhausting, and it seems like the body does not want to take in the air.

Some of these people function after the motto: “time goes”, “time passes,” and “time is precious because it is a resource that we cannot get back if we lose”. Sometimes these convictions may be true. Yet, I wonder if these are not metaphors we have been conditioned to believe by society in the name of progress.

How would it be if we change it and we say that “time comes”. How would that world be then? How would these people react then?

In my experience, it has to do with the background each of us grew up in. In some cultures, living slow is a virtue, and nothing is to be rushed. Everything happens when the time is right. What is the difference between people who live under the pressure of “time passes”, and people who live by “time comes”?

I guess people for which the time comes may have lower chances of reaching the state burnout because they do not rush and do not pressure themselves. They enjoy the journey of getting somewhere, much more than the result.

Burn-out also comes from the way people priorities the things they need to do in their lives. Most of the time, the priorities are not always optimal for their specific context, and they need rearranging.

What I notice is that in many cultures, people are less important than things and money. The internet is full of images showing us how running after money takes most of the time, and there is no more left for the people who surround us. Perhaps it is a good idea to invest in people who help us grow, who support us, who believe in us. Some would say, family. At the same time, the family cannot help with everything all the time.

What I mean is that if there are members of our family who perhaps are not good for us, it can be a good idea to keep a polite relationship, and not more. I dare to say that family is not always and for everybody a good thing.

We see everywhere conflicts between family members, yet I experience that the idea of family is held high in many cultures. At the same time, from the idea of having or being a loving and supporting family to putting that into praxis is a long way. Relationships, it doesn’t matter their nature, require work and time, and investment.

Among the ex-pats and the immigrants I work with, I also notice that the burned-out state shows up after some years from landing in the new country and the new culture. People use a lot of energy to understand the new system, the new culture, and its written and unwritten rules. Learning a new language is also problematic, even if not many people speak about it aloud.

Learning and functioning in another language other than the native one is like learning a new DNA and functioning with a new DNA. I see that people rarely give themselves time to see the effort and the energy they have spent in the process of adjustment. It is brushed away by work, children, family, life until suddenly something goes wrong and there is no more energy to function.

If you live in a country that is not yours, and if you function in a language, which is not your native one, I would like to suggest considering the possibility of taking some time to think about this process, revise it, and make the necessary changes. How much have you accomplished in the years you have spent abroad. What happened?

Are you doing things and behaving according to your culture of origin, or have you understood the new cultural codes and function by those?

Often the new culture is much friendlier than the old one. The work environment has other rules; the labor law can be friendlier as well. Simultaneously, because of the hard times experienced in the culture of origin, people have a hard time seeing that things can be different and a new way of living.

The new way of living has to do with respect for human beings and balance work and leisure time. I notice that when people who come from countries with no regard for rest and leisure have difficulties adjusting to a system that does not allow you to work more than a certain amount of hours. That is the law. They work overtime without nobody asking them and then getting frustrated because the boss did not see it and appreciate it.

These people have also never taken the time to find out what they like doing in their spare time. Because they never really had extra time. I remember talking to a lady at a party for a couple of hours, trying to find out what she liked doing. Although she was nearly 50 years old, she could not answer this question. She didn’t know what she liked doing in her spare time. Because she always had to do only what it was needed to survive. Nothing wrong with that, yet she was unhappy. She felt that she didn’t belong in her new country of residence and did not understand what she needed to do to adjust and integrate better.

I thought it was sad. At the same time, there are very many people in her situation. Are you one of those people who does not know what you like doing? If you need help finding out, feel free to register for a free session here. ONE good conversation can sort out a lot.

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