When Passion leads to Burnout

Situation

With the Sun in Scorpio (passion) and the Moon in Cancer (emotional well-being), today and tomorrow are Eight of Cups days.

This suggests sadness and disillusionment, a fall from the world of lofty hopes and dreams into one of bitterness, anger, and regret.

This card, the Eight of Cups, is ruled by water yet it refers not the open sea or even the babbling brook but instead to bogs and lagoons, the deep, stagnant waters that are the breeding grounds for all sorts of unpleasant, unhealthy things.

Issue

It’s worth remembering that the astrological element of Water corresponds to the Jungian function of ‘feeling’. This suggests not only getting bogged down in your own feelings but also your inability to access the opposite Jungian function of ‘thinking’, and hence plot your escape.

It’s the nature of Scorpio to be unrelentingly passionate about something or someone. In combination with Cancer, where emotional security is top priority, the result could be burnout when that which was once thrilling and engaging turns overwhelming and exhausting.

Advice

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently included burnout in its International Classification of Diseases, IDC – 11, suggesting that it is a syndrome resulting when chronic (workplace) stress fails to be successfully managed.

The three elements comprising burnout:

  1. Constantly feeling exhausted or ‘empty’.
  2. Feeling distant, cynical, and/or negative about your job.
  3. Reduced productivity.

The Mayo Clinic suggests that these can go on to cause other issues like fatigue, insomnia, and extremely altered moods. In essence, burnout can affect both your mental and physical health on a major scale.

Suggestions to combat burnout:

  1. Manage your workload – whilst you definitely do need to ‘stretch’ yourself to further both professional and psychological growth, there is also limit to how far you ought to go.
    • Some believe cutting workload is the answer. But, research shows it’s more complicated than that.
    • Consider what is commonly referred to as the William James Formula: self-esteem = personal success/pretensions (aspirations).
      • For example, if I want to make $100 but only make $50, then my self-esteem is 50%.
      • But if I expect to make $20 and do make $20,  then my self esteem is 100%.
      • The natural conclusion is that I can cut back, make less, and improve my self-esteem and overall well-being.
    • However, this formula fails to consider the factor of time.
    • For example over time you can raise your self-esteem well above 50% by continuing to to push out of your comfort zone if at the same time you are taking affirmative steps to cope. Just like your weight-training at the gym, you’ll continue to increase your ability to undertake every-increasing workloads if you respect yourself and your body and don’t expect overnight miracles.
  • Manage expectation  – there is a unbridgeable divide between realistic and unrealistic expectations. In other words, there are things that one can and cannot ever achieve. Whenever there is serious tension between expectations and the reality of a situation, you’re headed down the road to burnout.
    • To manage this, you need to be brutally honest with yourself and everyone involved about the unbridgeable divide.
    • For example, does your boss contact you at all hours of the night and day, leaving you feeling as if you need always, to be on call? Realistically, you know that this situation may be sustainable in the short run but over extended periods of time, it definitely is not. Instead of allowing it to just carry on until you suffer burnout, ask yourself what you can do to shift the situation and manage the expectations of your boss.
    • It’s quite possible that your boss may respect you all the more for having established boundaries rather that continuing to allow yourself to be used like a doormat. If, however, that is not the case, then consider looking for a new job.
  • Managing rewards – if the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards of any undertaking fail to match the time and effort invested, then over time you’re headed for burnout.
    • However, it’s important to acknowledge that not all rewards are created equal and the rewards necessary to warrant continuing to move forward may change significantly over time.
    • Equally, not every task is created equal. Sometimes we just need to immerse ourselves in the here and now, and get that which needs doing, done. This approach works well when the time and effort involved are minimal. But as the time and effort involved in making ‘it’ happen increase, then the rewards need also to increase.
    • Ask yourself whether the task at hand is set to help you get where you want to be in 5, 10, or even 20 years. If the answer is yes, then pull out all the stops. If the answer is no, then limit the time/effort expended on a particular task until it falls more in line with what you want/need to get out of it.

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