I felt like a failure

June 12, 2023

If you’ve ever been (on the verge of) burned out—or if you know someone who went through that experience—this might be worth reading…

There’s a lot of shame around burnout. It often feels like a failure. I know that I felt like I had failed—I shouldn’t have ended up in burnout.

I felt like I did something wrong—rather than seeing I was set up to fail.

Burnout is always the result of a combination of things.

What was going on for me was that my father-in-law had passed away. In my corporate job my boss was transferred, so I had to do a lot of her work on top of my own. I had a high sense of responsibility and perfectionism in what was already a demanding job.

To top things off I suffered from hypoglycemia, which I didn’t know about until years later.

It truly was a matter of when things would derail.

Looking back, no one in the company really spoke to me about my burnout.

Very few colleagues reached out to me while I was home. Maybe that was to allow me space, but it was never talked about once I got back either.

I felt embarrassed and perhaps that’s why it wasn’t openly discussed.

I personally felt like I was incompetent and had done something wrong.

HR provided me with a coach and they were really supportive. But the fact that my superior suggested I bought a book on time management—he thought that would fix it—showed he had no clue.

I laughed; my burnout had nothing to do with time management.

It’s not because I wasn’t being efficient—it’s not that I couldn’t schedule—I was extremely practical and highly organized—that wasn’t the problem.

It shows we have no clue what people with burnout go through if you think you can fix it with time management.

You also forget the emotional component. Or looking at the origin, what triggered them.

It’s always more than one thing—it’s never just being busy.

Burnout is really complex and it’s very personal.

If you do feel ashamed for feeling burned out, there’s no need. It’s an experience you went through that was difficult and probably painful (physically or emotionally.)

Focus on what you can take away from it. The things you can do differently.

It’s about learning more about who you are and what you need. How to move forward from here.

As Brené Brown says, if we don’t talk about shame, that’s when shame grows. Find someone who’s trustworthy who you can share your experience with (whether it’s about burnout or anything else you feel ashamed of.)

There’s still stigma that if you are burned out you did something wrong

Perhaps the whole corporate culture is set up wrong. Expectations are unrealistic, we’re set up to fail—maybe we should look at that.

It’s interesting how good we are at beating ourselves up. Especially given the fact that most of us are simply doing what we were conditioned to do!

If this is resonating and you’re curious to explore how burnout may be showing up for you so you can reverse it—take the Burnout Scan now.

You’ll know in minutes whether you are at risk for burnout. You will also get practical tips you can use right away to increase your energy level and lower your stress.

Have a day full of energy and inspiration!

PS If you’re working in a corporate environment and would like to assess what the energy and stress level is like for your team or organization, then I’d love to support you with that! 

Here’s how to use the Energy Balance Scan for your organization

PPS If you’re struggling, please make sure to reach out to someone! Speak to a trusted friend, colleague or family member. There’s no need to do this alone. You are loved and people would love to support you once they know you’d like some help.

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