Last week I knew I had to do some serious soul searching, as I had reached burnout, overwhelm and mental exhaustion. Over the past 12 months, I have found myself spinning multiple wheels of life, with a full-time consultancy job, a growing portfolio of clients in my private practice; writing and speaking commitments; social media management; business strategising and more networking to gain visibility. And that is just on the business front! There is also a list of family and parental commitments on a weekly basis not to mention swimming lessons, art classes and gymnastics for our daughter. Let’s not even begin to talk about domestic chores! It has just felt like commitment after commitment. More things to add to my to-do lists. After a while, spinning multiple wheels started to feel torturous and I just could not spin anymore. Not even one wheel. In the end, I was spending less time with my family, my husband was shouldering a lot more of the domestic responsibilities to support me and by Christmas I crashed. We had decided to go on holiday – just me, my hubby and daughter- to Tenerife- and sadly I was ill for the most part.
Last week’s soul searching brought me to a realisation. My burnout had been in the making since the middle of last year. I shared this in my blog titled “I am a counsellor and I am depressed”. At the time life seemed somewhat manageable, but I knew that emotionally I was in a very low place, having lost my father in the summer. I know in my heart that there is a connection between the loss of my father and my increasing levels of busy. To put it bluntly, since my father died I have immersed myself in so much work to keep me going for a long while. However, I sneakily convinced myself that once I gave up my full-time job at the end of March, I would finally be able to resurface from the deep end of my busyness pool for much needed air. But I sense, no… I know that it will not be the case unless I take drastic action. Why? Because I have been avoiding. Avoiding dealing and sitting with some deep-rooted discomfort which feels unfamiliar and familiar at the same time. Familiar in the sense that over-doing is one of my defence mechanisms to protect me from anything that remotely resembles pain. Busyness is like a two-edged sword for me, it stops me from being still and present albeit when I most need it, and at the same time it brings a strong sense of validation for me. Like a critical parent who only offers conditional love, I know that I must do more and then some, in order to get the much needed validation that I crave. I know this ‘critical parent’ very well, as she holds a lot of power and influence in my dominant thoughts. I shared my blog post, confessions of a recovering workaholic, sometime last year, which was also published in Talented Ladies Club.
I teach Transactional Analysis to my clients, and cover this in my masterclass BARE. See diagram below
Each of us have three internal models – parents, children and adults, and these roles influence the internal conversations within us as well as our relationships with others.
Knowing I have a strong default inclination to critical parent, means that I must be extra vigilant and intentional about listening to the soothing and calming voice of my nurturing parent. In my case my nurturing parent is represented by God the father and by no surprise when I am out of sync with my nurturing parent I am usually in self-reliant mode, assuring God in my fake American accent, “I got this”.
God and I know me well enough to know that sooner – hopefully rather than later – I will come running for shelter, like the prodigal son, battered and bruised, and I will have no choice but to let Him take over steering the rudder of my massive ship. Why I ever thought I could do this on my own, I wonder.
I have taken some much needed two weeks off work, to just rest and recuperate and I know that I have to make this more of a lifestyle rather than a knee jerk reaction to stress and overwhelm. I love supporting my clients through their transformation journey and I am grateful for the opportunity. But at the same time, I do not have to be the answer to everyone’s problem, which means that sometimes I have to say no to work, or requests for help without feeling guilty or fearful. Whilst my freedom from employment beckons, I know I need to be careful not to fill it up with stuff. Rest, retreats, leisure time and self-care is an absolute must for my emotional, physical and spiritual health, which in turn will allow me to do my best work, which is empowering you.
Can you relate? If you are a busy bee, what is lurking beneath?
I will be holding the next BARE masterclass on 29th April, where we get to explore the internal models mentioned above. I hold this classes monthly and each one leaves me inspired, amazed and grateful for the opportunity. The ladies leave with so much insight, wisdom and revelation about themselves and for some it has brought about breakthroughs. Wow! Read more about what happens at BARE.
If you would like to attend, email me to register your interest or book directly on Eventbrite. I am offering a £10 discount at £69, and prices will be going up in June to £119 to reflect the value offered. Further 5% Discount available if you bring a friend. Come and just BE!