Why you often can’t go back to your old work after burnout

Why you often can't go back to your old work after burnout

Mieke Lannoey was a passionate mental health care provider. A sector where she would work ‘until she dropped’. That happened, only much earlier than she had thought, and not at the desired moment but because of burnout. It forced her to stop, accept, let go, and have a conscious way of looking at life.

Never again the old van Mieke is a book about life after burnout. While many see recovery from burnout as the endpoint, in reality, it is just the beginning. This article explains: why you often can’t go back to your old work after burnout.

Being too tight energetically

In my view, the reason why so many people become incapacitated for work after burnout, whether or not followed by a diagnosis such as chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, is because the medical, symptom-fighting approach is aimed at patching people up and back again as quickly as possible. send them back to the cramped shells they came from. That simply doesn’t work anymore. You don’t squeeze a butterfly back into its cocoon, do you? When you repot a plant, isn’t the new pot also bigger than the old one?

If there is no room to further develop your potential, whether that is in the field of work, in your living environment, in your relationship(s), or in several areas at the same time, life will become too tight energetically. Pain and discomfort are a natural consequence of this.

Why you often can't go back to your old work after burnout

‘Unexplained’ pain and fatigue complaints

I’ll give a metaphor to clarify how an environment that is too cramped can literally cause pain: My friend has a motorhome, but the bed in this motorhome is just too small for my height, so I can’t stretch out all the way. So I have to make do with less space than I actually need. As a result, I wake up or get up several times with pain in my legs. Pain that disappears as soon as I can fully stretch myself again and my legs can relax again.

Staying in an environment that has become energetically too tight has exactly the same effect on your mechanism: it compresses you, so that you are unconsciously under tension all the time. Do you find it strange that so-called ‘unexplained’ pain and fatigue complaints arise? Not me!

Just as a houseplant slowly but surely loses all its vitality if it is not moved in time to a larger pot with fresh potting soil, an environment in which we cannot further develop our potential slowly but surely absorbs all our vital life force. We too need to repot ourselves if we want to keep growing, as Sarah Ban Breathnach says:

We, too, need to consider repotting for growth. but when? When we want even before the day begins. When we can’t seem to visualize or dream. 

When we can’t remember the last time we laughed. When we have absolutely nothing in the next twenty-four hours to look forward to. 

When this happens, week in, week out, we need to realize that we’re potbound. We need to gently loosen the soil around our souls, find something that sparks our imagination, quickens our pulse, brings a smile or a giddy lilt to our conversations.

Grow with it

Why you often can't go back to your old work after burnout

The path of your soul is one of continuous expansion. The spiral nautilus shell on the cover of my book [about life after burnout, ed.] symbolizes evolution. With both chambers and revolutions that, starting from the core, increase in size because the shell grows with the animal that lives in it. Just as your soul asks of you to let your life grow with the potential you carry in your core. Potential that is eager to fully unfold and make you the most expansive version of yourself.

By fighting the transformation process, for example by persistently clinging to what is known and familiar, to the old identity, a lot of energy is unconsciously consumed. This leaves too little energy to be able to reorganize. The result is that many people continue to dangle somewhere between caterpillar and butterfly.

Much to their frustration, they no longer manage to do things the old way, at the same time there is no energy left to evolve into the new life form. This ensures that some end up in a vicious circle and often become incapacitated for work for long to life, with an insane amount of potential that remains untapped. A missed opportunity, both for the person himself and for our society.

For as Sihame El Kaouakibi says:

Every talent we lose is a piece of collective wealth and well-being that we have lost.


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