A criminal has been paroled. His name is burnout. Last week I referenced Anne Jackson’s excellent work entitled: Mad Church Disease in contrasting the difference between exhaustion and burnout. She does a good job citing the true causes of burnout. (See my August 3rd blog entry in the archives.) Let’s say that you are burned out…How is such an emotional state reversed? I like the idea of going on a cruise. An extended golf trip sounds even better. I know I can cure that burnout with a little help from Expedia or Travelocity. Anne Jackson has a much different starting point. I like my ideas, but unfortunately hers are superior.
Jackson lists 5 principles of recovery for burnout in the book. The first one leaves out golf trips and cruises. The first principle of recovery is: Accept Responsibility for Your Decisions. In case the reader misunderstands, she states it slightly differently: The first step in overcoming burnout is to own up to the decisions that have led you here.
I think I will head to the golf course and blame my 5th grade teacher. She damaged me for life. My parents are easy targets. My mother’s strict rules have caused whatever burnout I have experienced in life. I can almost see Anne Jackson shaking her young 30 something head at me. My excuses are not going to cut it.
Disengagement is one of the signs of burnout that Jackson lists. If I have disengaged from people, I can likely trace that back to some poor decisions on my part along the way. She also mentions hopelessness as another tell tale sign of burnout. If I am feeling hopeless and helpless, that may very well caused by an array of choices made over a long period of time that have not been wise or emotionally healthy. In fact, it could be caused by some really foolish decisions made over and over again.
I know that burnout is a complicated subject. There are no simplistic answers, but we are living in a society where few people want to own up to the decisions that have led them to the situation they find themselves in. I declare myself guilty. I am the master of excuse making. There is actually something very cathartic and refreshing about accepting responsibility for our choices. It is a way to close one chapter in life and open a new one. In essence, accepting responsibility ends up being a redeeming process. Anne Jackson is on to something for sure, but I still like the idea of an extended golf outing better as a cure for burnout. But we will never get the criminal known as burnout back behind bars until we are willing to own up!