Burnout: A Spiritual Perspective

By Rev. Jennifer Britt, B.A., C.P.C.

What causes burnout? How do we know if we’re aligned with our path and larger purpose? Personally, I believe that every person on the planet has a unique purpose, a reason for being, offering something unique to all of life. When our beliefs, thoughts and actions are congruent with our purpose we feel a sense of being ‘lined up,’ as if all is well in the world.

This doesn’t mean that we won’t face difficulties or hardships. Life is full of twists and turns, hills and valleys, and even when we’re living congruently we will face challenges designed to help us grow, to fully develop our unique indwelling divinely inspired skills, talents and abilities. It does mean that when our actions are a direct reflection of our thoughts, beliefs and we feel purpose-full.

Conversely, we may feel as though our lives lack purpose, life might seem unnecessarily difficult, and we definitely don’t feel lined up or as if all is well in the world when our actions don’t reflect our deepest core values and internal truths.

I would like to propose to you that each thought, belief, action and gesture done with purposeful intention makes a difference. Done consistently over time – one day at a time, one moment at a time – everything we do matters and eventually makes a big impact, thereby fulfilling our larger purpose.

Our lives are a journey – not a destination. And we live our lives in increments – moments, hours, days, weeks, years and decades. Each moment of each day we must decide what is ours to do – and then do that one thing. It may be something small and seemingly insignificant, such as listening to your heart for guidance as to your next step. It may be sending a blessing to someone having a rough day, acknowledging the gifts in your life, or making time to listen to a loved one who needs your ear, shoulder and heart. It may mean taking a step toward fulfilling your purpose, but it certainly doesn’t mean that you try to do it all at once. If we try to fulfill our larger purpose as if it’s a project to tackle we will unnecessarily overwhelm ourselves, leading to burnout by trying to do more than what is necessary, or even possible.

You’ve probably heard the admonishment to be careful about ‘burning the candle at both ends’ in reference to not taking on so much that you get burned out. Burnout is common in our culture, because we are as a society value accomplishment and achievement. When we attempt to take on our life purpose as though it is something that needs to be achieved, or checked off on our ever-growing list of “to-do’s” we miss out on the subtle gifts that we learn and embody along the way. Our purpose is not something to be tackled like cleaning and organizing a garage. It is a journey, not a destination, and each twist, turn, meander, hill and valley serves our growth and fulfills our larger purpose.

“Small actions done consistently over time will yield tremendous results.” – Jennifer Britt





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