Sunday, October 25, 2015

Giving 100% All The Time

Sunday, October 25, 2015

I had an important realization today. It's not healthy for me to be pushing myself hard all the time. When waking up this morning, on a Sunday, I began to review what I hoped to accomplish today. As I began to think through all the tasks of my day and all that was required to accomplish them I began feeling increasingly overwhelmed. In an attempt to encourage myself I said the following to myself: "Just go as fast as you can." I then paused and realized there was a certain problem with my thinking. Going as fast as I can is basically the equivalent of driving a car at maximum speed. While this can be tolerable and feasible for some duration of time it's not realistic to expect we can push ourselves hard all the time. Fully using our capacities (giving 100%) all the time can be exhausting and ultimately lead to burnout.

I have been feeling overwhelmed lately. I have two jobs now. It's not my preference to be so busy with working to earn money. I want to enjoy my life and not fall into the American trap of living to work (as opposed to working to live). In addition to my work commitments I also attempt to regularly write in my blog, attend a leadership development program that requires me to commit some time on Tuesdays and Saturdays, exercise, meet with my therapist once a week, spend time with friends and make some plans for my future beyond next August 1st. That is a lot to juggle. It becomes even more taxing to juggle so many demands on my time when things go awry or are delayed. If you are living a life where you have basically no time margin for error and grant yourself little time to refresh yourself you are quite possibly on a path to burnout. I want to live a life that is rewarding and energizing. I have been burned out before. It's a very unpleasant experience.

So rather than give 100% all the time I realize it's important to downshift and leave some energy in my own personal "tank". An imbalanced life can often (though not necessarily inevitably) lead to significant problems later on. As autumn deepens and the silence and solitude of winter approaches I realize now is an ideal time to prune my life of commitments and clutter that no longer serve me. And yet it can be difficult to let go.

Those influences which prove prominent in our early development can prove quite challenging to consciously recognize as well as observe dispassionately. If we are not consciously aware of these influences we might awaken one day (perhaps belatedly) to discover our lives do not feel much like our own. We may feel our lives are actually being driven by something we don't even understand. One of the influences I recognize played a powerful role in my own development was religion. I grew up in a family that is good at being of service to others. But taken to an extreme a person dedicated to service to others can become a martyr. And in becoming a martyr we can lose our very selves. It's thus healthy to step back on occasion and reassess the quality of our lives.

I feel as if I was virtually captivated by the martyr archetype earlier in my own life. I was so dedicated to being of service to others that I failed to recognize the very real risk of losing my own self in the process. And while it can be very healthy (even downright therapeutic) to get involved in the lives of others (both to be of help as well as being a source of distraction from our own concerns) there is indeed a fine line where service turns into self-destructive martyrdom.

There are times when I still feel immense grief. There are moments when the grief weighs upon me so heavily that I could be easily convinced I am living through 2013 all over again. These days the grief that arises in me is often connected to periods of my life very different from those I explored when I first began seeing my therapist in June, 2013. As I noted in a recent posting I have a deep desire to recapture my sense of my own youth. My own youthfulness hasn't been lost. But I don't feel I appreciated my power, beauty, energy and youthfulness as much as I could have when I was biologically younger. When I ponder the life I lived in my twenties I marvel at how much I gave to others and how little I gave to myself. I was laying the foundation for the burnout I would experience
years later. I was also living in what I now recognize was an imbalanced way. I was living a very serious life.

Restoring your own personal health and vitality after a sojourn in the landscape of burnout can be deeply personal and deeply challenging. And the process can require much patience and self-inquiry as well as the aid of others.

While working today I unexpectedly took note of the fact that it was exactly twenty-eight months ago that the seed was planted from which would bloom my odyssey of writing. Twenty-eight months ago, on June 25, 2013, I received a health diagnosis that would ultimately cast me on a new course. It took a while for my vision to sufficiently clarify such that I could start to see where I was going. I can honestly say that I can now see more clearly than I ever have before.

Life is wondrous.

Allow yourself to change. Allow the people around you to change. Allow the wisdom of change to inhabit your life.

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