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April 22, 2019

Resilience; the key indicator of burnout.


When resilience is damaged

One of the most disturbing feelings in burnout is that of numbness. Colour faded from life. Everything turned gray. It was as if the tune had become the constant hum of a sole note. I became numb to the good things of life, physically, emotionally and relationally. This made me look for greater stimulation. Nothing seemed to satisfy. I put on weight as I constantly felt hungry. I drank more, as one glass of wine left me thirsty. Temptations seemed stronger and I felt weaker. I lost my ability to bounce. A strong ability to bounce back from the difficulties encountered in leadership was one of my strenghts. Little did I realise that I was loosing strenght in this area.

Most of these difficulties are common to all caring professions: tragedy strikes, a death (sometimes at the person’s own hand), news of grave illness, an economic shift that diminishes cashflow, key people departing and leaving large spaces in the team (sometimes with open betrayal of trust and a barrage of false accusations that causes others to leave).

My response to disappointing news was not helpful to my well-being. I would think through what could I have done to avoid this, with an underlying thought it’s my fault. After a day, I would be back on point, leading and rallying people to the cause. This response was setting me up to compound the difficulty. (See the next blog) The healthy response I choose now is to write in a journal about how this impacts me and how it makes me feel. I didn’t see that my response was from an over-realised sense of responsibility.

Resilience is a self-regulating capacity.

Taking on too much responsibility, and not giving myself time to process my emotions had a compounding negative effect. This effect was to lose my capacity to adapt, change and handle life challenges. This is the essence of Resilience as defined by Matt Bloom. “Resilience–our capacity to adapt, change, and respond to life’s challenges, and also our capacity to grow, learn, and to develop new capabilities and capacities.” P 6 – white paper flourishing in Service – WorkWell,

How is your ability to bounce back?

I did not see that I was losing my resilience. Ask someone close to you whom you trust, if they see a change in your resilience. This is one of the key indicators of burnout. The body has incredible healing capacity. As do our emotions. With rest and care, they can heal. Yes, you can bounce back and respond positively to life’s challenges.

If you have found this helpful, subscribe to ensure you get the next blog; ‘One thing you lose when you lose resilience and one thing you gain when you find resilience.

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