Five Skills for Preventing Burnout
Now that the problem has been defined and some of its mechanisms have been illustrated, how can we avoid it? Here are five important skills we can practice.
1. Taking responsibility for my tendency to rescue and become burned-out.
I learn to recognize my patterns and early stages of burnout, and look compassionately and non-judgmentally at areas of my life in which I am not being honest with myself. Am I willing to expend the extra effort required to change those attitudes and behaviors that are not serving me? Instead of trying to change other people, I become the change I want to see happen. I recognize my burnout as a guide to taking better care of my self, and I no longer feel victimized by others. A life lived with care and attention gives richness and sustenance.
With accepting responsibility comes integrity with my self.
2. Allowing my inner self, other people, and the universe around me to unfold by letting go of my attempts to manipulate and control.
Accepting that I am responsible for my own life, I honor others in being responsible for theirs. I grow more able to see others' points of view as valid for them. I allow them to express themselves without my feeling threatened or attacked. I see my impulse to attack them as a fear that I will somehow lose something if I don't get my way.
With allowing comes trust.
3. Developing an affinity with my self and others, I take better care of my self.
I find that I am letting go of self-destructive behaviors and gravitating toward those that are "good" for me as I learn to like myself more. As I let go of negative self-images, I feel a stronger affinity for people around me, even those I didn't like before. Perhaps this is because they reminded me of things in myself which I didn't like and which I now better accept.
I develop an awareness of my "stroke economy." Positive strokes feel better than the negative attention I was previously addicted to. I may learn that my major source of positive strokes was being "needed" by others. This is not supportive to me (or others) in the long run. I find myself creating a more supportive environment that fosters a greater sense of affinity.
With affinity comes a sense of support.
4. Communication is essential to my preventing burnout.
To create a supportive environment I must be able to communicate my needs. This requires being honest with myself about what I need versus what I think I should feel, think, and do. I learn to let go of my fear of rejection and communicate honestly. Resentments arising from my not communicating honestly can lead to feeling Drained and to thoughts of attack. As I recognize my resentments as signs of fear of rejection, I choose no longer to nurture them, and become forgiving of myself and others. Forgiveness makes communication easier because judgments have been dissolved by acceptance of myself and others.
With clear communication comes a sense of unity with my environment.
5. Freeing creativity results from developing the four previous skills.
My inner child becomes freer to express, and my spontaneity and life spirit are allowed more time for expression. The perspective of the inner child and the release of spontaneity provide antidotes to the burdens so easy to assume as a helping professional.
With creativity comes celebration.