“How can I feel this way?”—you might ask yourself when you feel more frustration than joy about the people and projects you love most. How could something you love so deeply suck the life right out of you?
Then the shame sets in. HOW COULD YOU EVER tell anyone this is how you really feel? This beautiful, wonderful, perfect part of your life makes you so incredibly tired and run ragged? So, the shame dutifully puts a hand over your mouth, and you vow to never mention how exhausting and sometimes maddening your job is,—motherhood, or marriage, or “living the dream.”
Hey friend, hear me, okay? THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU. The reason for the shame around this topic is that we don’t like to talk about it. We go through phases when living with the things we always wanted—it can sometimes feel like the death of us.
Maybe it doesn’t seem like it should be possible that we could want and love something SO MUCH, and also have it be the most exhausting and frustrating part of our life. It feels confusing and we often feel like we have to pretend that this isn’t part of the deal. We often pretend these parts of our lives (that we willingly sacrifice so much for, because we love them so much), only ever bring us JOY and BLISS, and fill us up with ENERGY. Hey, let’s get real here. We CAN feel completely burnt out by people we love. We CAN feel pushed beyond our limits by projects we love. We CAN get completely sucked dry by causes that we love.
Sometimes, it’s all just too much. But, that doesn’t mean that YOU are not enough. It just means that TOO MUCH IS TOO MUCH.
So, are you feeling burnt out by something or someone you love? Maybe it’s an adorable toddler, a doting spouse, or a bucket-list career…
I’m just here to tell you that this is 100% normal—nothing is wrong with you, except maybe you are too hard on yourself, expecting way too much. We live in a culture that gives us the false impression that everyone but ourselves is “on” 24/7 and always LOVING their life—always LIVING their BEST LIFE. Maybe you are doing the same—out there doing YOUR best to LIVE and LOVE your best life.
Loving your life holds hands with parts of life that you struggle with. Sacrificing for people, projects, and causes that you love holds hands with being depleted of something—sometimes of everything! Sacrifice means giving up something for something else. Hopefully we are giving up something good for something even better. Sometimes we haven’t done the math, though and we give up something better for something that’s merely good. We have to manage what we give. When we give TOO MUCH, it means being left with not enough to even keep going.
You’re the only one who can manage what it takes to keep yourself going.
So, what are we to do about lugging around the heavy weight of this reality? Well, first, beautiful human, the pretending is at least half of the weight. It is SUCH A BURDEN to have to pretend that everything is easy and only has magical, good parts. Telling the truth about things makes them weigh at least half as much. To be able to tell a trusted friend or a trusted journal that you are burnt out on parts of your life—it will unburden you so much.
And that leads to a second remedy. When you tell the truth that things aren’t always rosy, it leads to other truths—like the truth that you have limits. It is so devastating when you reach your limit and all along you didn’t know you had a limit. BUT WE ALL DO! There is NO SHAME in it. So, tell the truth to yourself that you’re depleted so you can start to see your limits.
Third, decide that you don’t have to do everything right now. You don’t even have to do everything EVER, if you don’t want to. Decide what is most important to you and then be really honest with yourself about whether you can add more to your life than what is critically important RIGHT NOW. This means you might have to start saying no, because when you say YES and you actually want to say NO, it leads to bitterness—which leads to a bitter burnout. That is NOT the life that is meant for you!
Fourth, remember who you are and who you want to be. Being exhausted all the time makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do. Feeling desperate makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do. The shame of feeling burnt out makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do. Feeling trapped makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do.
So, if you were rested, what would you normally do—as your very best, rested self? What is the life that you want to be living where you are doing the things that FEEL LIKE who you actually are? What is the way you need to be living so that you don’t feel exhausted, desperate, ashamed of your limitations, trapped? What do you need to stop doing so that you can feel freedom, vitality, and joy? What do you need to do to be living the way YOU want to live, feeling the way YOU want to be feeling?
I know these are hard questions. They are hard because no one can answer them for you. They are hard because as you’re answering them, you’ll start to see patterns that feel like self-betrayal. IT IS GOOD TO SEE THOSE PATTERNS so you can start to create patterns that feel like self-respect. Yes, these are hard questions, but it is so important for you to STOP for long enough that you can hear yourself both asking these questions and answering them.