When you’re feeling burnt out

“Want to” vs. “have to.”

This week I’m responding to two more questions! As we move towards 2023, I wish you clarity, courage, and compassion. See you in 2023–Happy New Year!

What kind of self-care is needed when you are fully burned out (physically, mentally, emotionally)? Any motivation tips. 

In our culture of “productivity as self-worth,” we’re conditioned to think we always need to be doing something in order to feel valuable or worthy. If we’re not “using our time wisely,” we’re “wasting” it.

We may feel overwhelmed by what we make it mean about ourselves if we do/don’t do something, rather than the task or activity itself. 

We can ask ourselves why we think we need/want to do these things in the first place. Is there some extrinsic or intrinsic value we think we’ll receive? What are we making it mean about ourselves? Will it add value to our lives? Do we think we’ll be or feel more valuable or worthy if we do it? To whom? 

When we are trying to do all the things to prove our worth to others or even ourselves, we may burn ourselves out in the attempt. We get to decide that we are already 100% worthy. From that place of worthiness, what do we REALLY want to do because it’ll add value to our lives? 

Part of self-care is choosing from this place, instead of thinking that we HAVE to do things in order to prove something to others. If we want to show ourselves what’s possible for us by doing the things, that’s also different than trying to prove to others something about ourselves.  

How do I maintain healthy habits with mental health fluctuations or when something breaks my routine (i.e. getting sick)?

When we’re sick, allowing ourselves to rest and take care of ourselves without feeling guilty is key. This may sound simple, but because of our societal conditioning, we may feel guilty for resting, even though we’re sick. 

I recently had the flu and initially wanted to feel better right away so I could get back to work. But when the next day came, I still felt sick and also disappointed that I wasn’t feeling better yet. I had an expectation that I’d feel better more quickly than I was, and that expectation added some stress on top of being sick. We do this type of thing often—not only do we feel physically bad, but we pile negative emotions about feeling bad on top of that.

Just like allowing emotions to be there without resisting them, when I finally allowed myself to be sick instead of resisting it, and canceled work and other plans, I was able to give my body the rest and care it needed—lots of warm fluids and lots of sleep. Without feeling guilty or like I was missing out on something I was supposed to be doing. And without having expectations that I should feel better right away. What I was supposed to be doing at that time was feeling sick and resting. Even though I wasn’t able to do my usual routines, that was okay because I knew I’d get back to them once I felt better. 

Similar to the previous question and response, we may think we’re wasting time because we’re sick and can’t be productive. We may feel guilty or disappointed, like we’re letting others down. What we’re really doing is allowing ourselves to heal and rest, taking care of ourselves. If we tried to do things while we were sick, we’d be letting ourselves down and likely prolonging the sickness by not resting properly. So next time you get sick, what if you allow yourself to be sick and to have it take as long as it takes to feel well again?

In terms of mental health fluctuations, we may be feeling overwhelmed or burnt out because of what we’re thinking about our life and the things we think we’re “supposed” to be doing. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to acknowledge that we might not be able to do everything we want to do. 

Again, it’s an opportunity to look at the things on our list and to ask ourselves why are we doing these things? What are the things we WANT to do instead of the things we think we HAVE to do? And can we ask for help with any of these things?

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

What’s on your mind? It can be powerful to learn from each other and our common struggles when it comes to our practice of self-care–or just being a human being. If you have something you’re struggling with and would like some perspective, share it here. Your issue may be chosen and addressed in the next post–it’ll be totally anonymous.

When you can love “what is”

Stop resisting.

Most of us are used to–and mostly unaware of–creating unnecessary emotional pain when we fight against reality by thinking thoughts like:

“It shouldn’t be this way.” 

“This shouldn’t be happening.” 

“I shouldn’t have to do this.”

“It” can be replaced with any of these: she, he, I, they, my weight, my life, etc. 

“This” can stand in for whatever is happening that feels uncomfortable, undesirable, or unfair.

When we think these types of thoughts about something we have no control over or really can’t change, we’re resisting reality. 

We’re spending emotional energy on it and wishing it were different. But if it’s something we can’t change, it’s not only pointless, but painful. And it doesn’t do anything to change what happened.

The opposite of resistance is acceptance. On the way from resistance to acceptance, there is non-resistance. And beyond acceptance, there is “loving what is.” That’s the big one.

When we start to practice non-resistance, when we start to acknowledge that we may be fighting against something that we can’t change and just let it be what it is, there can be peace and ease. 

How do we know it was supposed to happen? Because it did. 

That might be hard to swallow, but then there’s nothing to fight against. Then everything is going the way it’s supposed to go.

I know this is a big leap for many people, some high-level sh*t. Many people feel resistant to even thinking of this as a possibility for themselves. To let go of how things “should” be or “should” have happened, and let things just be as they are. 

Maybe it’s not exactly “loving what is” yet, but what about some acceptance, or even some non-resistance? Instead of all the resistance, along with the emotional pain it brings.

This is not to say that we don’t change what is possible to change, or that we don’t move towards the change we want to see in our lives, or that we condone injustices.

But again, when we think injustices “shouldn’t” happen when they do in fact happen unfortunately all too often, we’re fighting against reality, resisting how things actually are in the world. 

And that only creates emotional pain and suffering for ourselves. When we’re in pain, we usually aren’t taking the actions that create change. 

Of course, we need to process the emotions we feel when something happens that we didn’t want to happen. The emotions of disappointment, frustration, sadness, anger, hurt, loss, or grief. And let it take as long as it takes to process them.

But how long do we want to keep wishing it didn’t happen and add suffering on top of those emotions?

When we can create more space for how things are, we surrender a little, we release some tension, we find some freedom. And that’s when we’ll get clear about what we really want and move towards creating the changes we want to see.

Your turn: What have you been resisting recently? What would happen if you allowed it to be what it is, without needing it to be different? How can the question, “How is this happening FOR me?” create some space in your experience?

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

What’s on your mind? It can be powerful to learn from each other and our common struggles when it comes to our practice of self-care–or just being a human being. If you have something you’re struggling with and would like some perspective, share it here. Your issue may be chosen and addressed in the next post–it’ll be totally anonymous.

How to feel an urge

Delay gratification.

Why is knowing how to allow and feel urges important when we’re working towards a goal?

Because when we give in to urges, we move farther away from our goals. 

Urges feel important–they feel urgent. Most of the time, when we feel an urge, our automatic response is to react to it by giving in to the urge. Because when we give in to the urge, we’ll no longer feel the urge. Feeling an urge can be uncomfortable and so we want to get rid of the feeling as quickly as we can.

But giving in to urges for instant gratification keeps us from getting what we really want, especially when we’re wanting to lose weight, exercise more, spend less, drink less, create something, or to separate from an ex, as examples.

  • When we want to lose weight, the urge is to overeat. 
  • When we want to exercise more, the urge is to sleep in or “not feel like it.”
  • When we want to save money or spend less, the urge is to buy something new even if we don’t need it.
  • When we want to stop overdrinking, the urge is to have a second (or third) drink.
  • When we want to create something, the urge is to check social media feeds or consume content in other ways that prevent us from creating.
  • When we want to separate from an ex, the urge is to text or call or look at their social media accounts.

It’s pretty clear how giving in to those urges would keep us from moving towards our goals.

So I want to offer that instead of reacting to and giving in to an urge, we can allow it to be there and to feel it. Even if it’s uncomfortable. 

We can get mixed up about what it means to allow or feel an urge because when we’re not giving in to it, we’re usually resisting it and trying to push it away. We might be thinking, “I don’t want to have this urge. I should have more willpower. Why can’t I stop wanting this?” This also is not allowing an urge to be there if we’re fighting against it and beating ourselves up for it. 

Allowing an urge to be there without reacting to it looks like this:

  • Notice when an urge arises and allow yourself to be curious about it.
  • Acknowledge the urge with something like, “OK, I feel the urge to eat something right now even though I know I’m not physically hungry.”
  • Let the urge be there, instead of resisting it and trying to push it away, with something like, “I‘m feeling this urge and it feels so uncomfortable. I feel this urge, and that’s okay.” 
  • Notice the discomfort of NOT giving in to the urge–in this example, by not reaching for a snack right away.
  • After 10 minutes or so of having allowed the urge to be there, see if the desire to reach for a snack (or some other action related to the urge you’re feeling) is still there.

When we get good at allowing urges to be there, we get closer to our goals because we won’t give in to the urges that take us away from our goals. We learn to delay instant gratification for the real gratification we desire from obtaining our goals.  

Your turn: What is a goal you’re working towards? What urges would you want to practice allowing in order to move closer to that goal? Are you willing to feel the discomfort of NOT giving in to the urge? What happens when you tell yourself, “I feel the urge to _____, and that’s okay”?

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

How to feel your feelings

Stop resisting.

All of us experience emotional pain at certain points in our lives. We often turn to food, alcohol, shopping, work, or something else to ignore the pain we feel. These temporary distractions only prevent the process that needs to happen to let the painful feelings go.

What happens when feelings hurt:

• Something occurs to trigger your emotional pain.

• You can barely make sense of it and it overwhelms you.

• Emotional pain enters your body—the vibrations in your body caused by the thoughts you’re having are excruciating.

When this happens, you can make a choice to: avoid it, resist it, react to it, or process it. 

Avoiding

When you choose to avoid your pain and pretend it isn’t there, you are basically lying to yourself. This doesn’t work long term. The truth is that avoidance causes pain to fester. The more you avoid it, the more you have to avoid it. You might eat, for example, instead of feel. Then you might get upset because you ate when you weren’t hungry. Then you might obsess about your body or your exercise routine. All of these tactics keep you from addressing the cause of the pain and instead, multiply undesirable symptoms such as weight gain.

Resisting and Reacting

When you resist the emotion, you tell yourself that you shouldn’t be feeling this way and then you feel bad in addition to the painful emotion you’re already feeling. When you resist, it’s like trying to hold a large beach ball under the water. The beach ball always wants to pop back up and gets stronger the more you try to push it down. 

When you deal with pain this way, you act it out or fight against it. You might yell at the person you believe caused your pain. You might talk behind their back, you might give them the silent treatment, or maybe take even more drastic measures against them. This may seem to help with the pain temporarily because it alleviates the vibration in the moment, but these actions almost always backfire.

When we react from negative emotion, we almost always get a negative result. Our actions are usually uncontrolled and unthoughtful. Fighting against the emotion becomes a losing battle–anxiety speeds up the vibration of the already painful emotion, making it even more intense.

Processing and Allowing

When you choose to process pain, you are choosing to feel it. We are so reluctant to feel pain on purpose. We tell ourselves that feeling pain is a bad thing because it feels bad, but this isn’t actually true. When we allow ourselves to feel our pain all the way through, we see that it’s manageable and it can do no long term harm (unlike avoiding and fighting, which can have many long term consequences).

Allow the feeling to be in your body even if you can’t make sense of it in your mind yet. Observe. Say in your mind “I am processing pain” over and over as you feel the pain. You don’t need to fix it or make it go away.

Notice any desire to react, resist, and avoid. You can say the desire out loud or in your mind, or write it down. You don’t have to act on it—just acknowledge it. You can tell yourself, “That won’t help” or “That’s not worth it” every time you notice the desire. 

Remind yourself, “This is pain…This is part of being human.” Allow the painful vibration to be there as you do laundry, take a shower, drive your car, or talk on the phone. Notice its heaviness, its energy, its ability to take your breath away. Just notice.

As you do this, you’ll begin to see that your thoughts about the situation appear. It may take a few minutes, a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks. Let it take as long as it takes—there’s no need to force it. Just keep noticing what you notice.

Your turn: What happens to the feeling if you just allow it to be there and feel it all the way through? Where do you feel it in your body? Does it move around or stay still? Is it hot, cold, warm? What color is it? What happens if you’re allowed to feel this way without reacting to, resisting, or avoiding the emotion?

What’s on your mind? Is there something on your mind that you’d like to have addressed in these weekly posts? It can be powerful to learn from each other and our common struggles when it comes to our practice of self-care–or just being a human being. If you have something you’re struggling with and would like some perspective, let me know. Your issue may be chosen and addressed in the next post–it’ll be totally anonymous.

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

Sometimes our feelings hurt…a lot

And what if that’s OK?

All of us experience emotional pain at regular intervals in our lives. We often turn to food, alcohol, shopping, work, or something else to ignore the pain we feel. These actions are called buffering (more on that soon). These temporary distractions only prevent the process that needs to happen to let the painful feelings go.

What happens when feelings hurt:
• Something happens to trigger your emotional pain.
• You can barely make sense of it and it overwhelms you.
• Emotional pain racks your body—the vibrations in your body caused by the thoughts you’re having are excruciating.

You can make a choice to: avoid it, resist it, react to it, or process it.

Avoiding
When you choose to avoid your pain and pretend it isn’t there, you are basically lying to yourself. This doesn’t work long term. The truth is that avoidance causes pain to fester. The more you avoid it, the more you have to avoid it. You might eat, for example, instead of feel. Then you might get upset because you ate when you weren’t hungry. Then you might obsess about your body or your exercise routine. All of these tactics keep you from addressing the cause of the pain and instead, multiply undesirable symptoms such as weight gain.

Resisting and Reacting
When you resist the emotion, you tell yourself that you shouldn’t be feeling this way and then you feel bad in addition to the painful emotion you’re already feeling. When you resist, it’s like trying to hold a large beach ball under the water. The beach ball always wants to pop back up and gets stronger the more you try to push it down.

When you deal with pain this way, you act it out or fight against it. You might yell at the person you believe caused your pain. You might talk behind their back, you might give them the silent treatment, or maybe take even more drastic measures against them. This may seem to help with the pain temporarily because it alleviates the vibration in the moment, but these actions almost always backfire.

When we react from negative emotion, we almost always get a negative result. Our actions are usually uncontrolled and unthoughtful. Fighting against the emotion becomes a losing battle–anxiety speeds up the vibration of the already painful emotion, making it even more intense.

Processing
When you choose to process pain, you are choosing to feel it. We are so reluctant to feel pain on purpose. We tell ourselves that feeling pain is a bad thing because it feels bad, but this isn’t the truth. When we allow ourselves to feel our pain all the way through, we see that it’s manageable and it can do no long term harm (unlike avoiding and fighting, which can have many long term consequences).

Allow the feeling to be in your body even if you can’t make sense of it in your mind yet. Watch and notice. Say in your mind “I am processing pain” over and over as you feel the pain. You don’t need to fix it or make it go away.

Notice any desire to react, resist, and avoid. You can say the desire out loud or in your mind, or write it down. You don’t have to act on it—just acknowledge it. You can tell yourself, “That won’t help” or “That’s not worth it” every time you notice the desire. Remind yourself, “This is pain…This is part of being human.” Allow the painful vibration to be there as you do laundry, take a shower, drive your car, or talk on the phone. Notice its heaviness, its energy, its ability to take your breath away. Just notice.

As you do this, you’ll begin to see that your thoughts about the situation appear. It may take some time–a few minutes, a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks. Let it take as long as it takes—there’s no need to force it. Just keep noticing what you notice.

Your turn: What happens to the feeling if you just allow it to be there and feel it all the way through? What happens if you’re allowed to feel this way without reacting, resisting, or avoiding the emotion?

Next week we’ll talk about how our thoughts about our circumstances/situations create our feelings. It’s easy to think our circumstances (other people, our job, our neighborhood, traffic, etc.) create our feelings. It’s all our thoughts. And that’s where our power lies.

Subscribe if you’d like this content delivered right to your inbox!

Transitions

Transitions

long shadows leap the length of my mind
twirling and spinning like orange brown leaves blowing in the lane

this year, this year 
I want it to be over, but
I don’t want it to end, to
mark another year passing where 
I didn’t “do” enough
what do I have to show for it?
nothing, is the easy answer
not enough, is the harder answer

this cycle, unstoppable 
Life, Death, Rebirth 
Life, Death, Rebirth 
in every moment of the day, something dies
and something new comes forward 

can I allow this to be?
release the Resistance 
open to Acceptance 
settle into Surrender
feeling cradled by what is

this, being enough.

The Path to Healing: A Long Road to Shortcuts

First published on The Green Slate

I’ve realized more and more that when it comes to healing physical and emotional pain, there are no shortcuts…at first.

When you’re right at the beginning and you’ve fallen in pretty deep, into the pain, you’re looking for the shortcut. You want the pain to be gone yesterday. And you do certain things to bandage the pain, to stave it off, and it might be better for a little while. But then the pain is back, and you realize you’ve fallen even further into it.

Now you need even more of a bandage here, but you’re in so much pain that you know the bandage method won’t work anymore. So you allow yourself to stay here feeling stuck in your pain and maybe end up turning to self-pity. “Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this?”

“Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this?”

You are seeing through eyes veiled by pain. This line of thinking shifts you from the powerful human being you are and the life that you want to live, to a place of suffering, and instead generates anger, frustration, fear, sadness, and more pain. You get to a point where you begin to live in this space, feeling like you will never leave this place of pity, pain, sorrow, and even deep loss.

Sugar (of Dear Sugar) is right when she says, “Let yourself be gutted. Let it open you. Start here.” Because by the time you are in a place to choose to truly heal, you will have been gutted, likely by your own actions.

You’ve asked why? a thousand times, you’ve spent days in bed because you just couldn’t do anything else, you’ve spent time forgetting to eat because the pangs of hunger are easier to deal with than your real pain, you’ve spent too much time crying, you’ve allowed yourself to disconnect from your true self, to get lost, you’ve considered doing things to help yourself heal, but you didn’t have the courage at the time to really go for it. You were allowing yourself to suffer. You weren’t ready yet. No shortcut exists for this part of the process. All your actions–or lack of, all your thoughts, and all your pain up to this point were a necessary part of it. You just go through it and it takes as long as it needs to take.

Then you arrive. You arrive at the minute, hour, day, thought, when you say, “I’m done. I’m f*cking done with this.” And you mean it. Because you will be so tired of everything unhealthy that you’ve been doing, thinking, feeling. Something inside you has chosen to surrender and accept, instead of resist. Maybe before, when you were looking for the shortcuts and you proclaimed halfheartedly that you were done, you resisted truly choosing to be done. So the pain wore on. But not this time. Not when you truly mean it in your soul, your mind, and your body. That’s when you’re ready to heal.

Everything happens as and when it needs to happen.

Everything happens as and when it needs to happen. This is where you can find the shortcuts, at this point. This is where you find the people who have the tools to help you heal and potentially shorten your path. You might finally decide to call that therapist. You might have a serendipitous lead to a different type of healing modality that works 10 times better than the treatment you were using before. You might see a friend who you haven’t seen for years and she will see your physical/emotional pain and suggest that you see her “guy/girl” and that will shift your healing path.

Because you shifted your frequency by really choosing to be done and really being ready to heal, your healers will be revealed to you, and your body and mind will be fully receptive. These are the people who can guide you out of that darkness that you thought you’d never leave.

It does take time, the right help, working with love and gratitude, but you will be healed. You will leave that deep, dark place. And when you do, you’ll look back at yourself in that place and remember that version of you that had been there. You might wonder at the fact that that was you, that you were even there at all. “How did I ever get there? I remember that darkness, that pain that felt like it would never leave… I allowed myself to be led there, to be lost. But I have a knowing now. I know I will never have to go back there and suffer like that.”

And you won’t. Now your body is stronger, your mind and heart calmer and freer. You’ve reconnected with your powerful self and gained back the vision of the life you want to live. Because you took a long road to a shortcut, but it was the right path to true healing.

Hello from The Healing Modalities!

The path to healing emotional and physical pain can sometimes be long. Much longer than you’d hope or expect. But in these things, we must be patient and know that the healing is happening. The body, in its divineness, has its own healing mechanisms and knows exactly what to do. However, since ancient times, people in the world have used methods to aid the body’s healing process.

I’ve had my share of healing journeys and understand the pain that can be involved. If it’s something of a physical nature, I like being told that there are natural ways to heal, instead of just being told to cover the pain using any assortment of pain killers. Yes, that is a bandage approach, but it doesn’t address the true cause of the pain in order to remedy it more effectively. Of course, alternative healing modalities will not help you to replace a valve in your heart, but they can help in your healing afterwards. I appreciate practitioners who spend time understanding me, my lifestyle, and my approach to life in order to recommend a healthy healing path and plan. Your full participation and dedication is necessary to achieve your goal.

If the pain is of an emotional nature, this is sometimes even harder to heal than physical pain. It takes a lot of personal work and perseverance. It takes looking inside yourself and seeing some things you might not like seeing in order to clear out those things in a healthy way. It takes re-evaluating how you feel about yourself and if you are giving yourself the respect and care that you’d like others to give to you. Sometimes because of things that may have happened to us when we were very young, we don’t know how to do this. Or sometimes because we are so focused on the way something is “supposed to be,” we lose sight of what IS and may miss chances to heal along the way.

When healing, resistance can play a major role in the process and it is hard to even be aware that resistance is there within you sometimes. But acceptance and surrender also play roles in healing, and they are what we must work towards. Acceptance and surrender are usually hard to come by and take a lot of personal work, but once they are there within you, the resistance melts away and you are in a place to truly be ready to heal.

Here, I’d like to share with you some alternative healing modalities and stories. Eventually I will make recommendations to specific practitioners, but that will come later.