Clients who come to me with burnout tend to have a few core beliefs in common.
What are core beliefs?
These are the stories that we were born into or raised with that we may not consciously believe in but that will subconsciously play out in our lives unless we actively choose to change them.
For example, white supremacy is a core belief that we were all born into. It may not be something that we would consciously say we agree with, but on a subconscious level it’s still there, affecting how you show up in the world – unless you’re actively working on changing that belief inside yourself.
So what are the most common core beliefs that I see in clients who show up with burnout?
1. There is a hierarchy in humanity, and some people are higher than others.
This belief is the story behind white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, cisnormativity and heteronormativity (the assumption that all or most people are cisgender or heterosexual), among many other stories of hierarchy.
The belief of hierarchy can lead to perfectionism, social anxiety, feelings of “not enoughness”, working harder to prove yourself, and often feeling like you’re behind.
In truth, this one core belief leads to every other belief on this list. So if you want to go to the source, start here.
2. Worth is dependent on how much you achieve and rest must be earned.
We live in a society where this belief is taught from an early age. “No rest for the weary” is a common expression, telling us that no matter how tired we are, we must keep going.
And if we are living in the belief of hierarchy, then of course we must always keep going in order to gain any power in a hierarchical society.
The idea that rest must be earned goes hand in hand with your worth being dependent on how much you achieve.
In that story, there’s little room for rest because we must always be achieving to prove our worth.
While this belief affects all of us on a deep level, I find it affects different groups in unique ways.
“Be twice as good” is a belief that’s drilled into Black children, who don’t have the same privileges as their white counterparts.
My clients who come from immigrant families have been taught the story of “The American Dream” and that they alone are responsible for their success – and that they owe it to their families to achieve high success.
This leads to exhaustion and burnout because it really means never resting.
3. I have to take care of everything myself.
In a society where we are in a hierarchy rather than in a circle of community, things have to be done perfectly.
If not, you might end up getting knocked down in the hierarchy (or at least that’s the underlying fear).
And the only way for things to be done perfectly is to do it ourselves.
If we lived in a circle of community, where each individual’s unique skills and contributions were valued and acknowledged, it would be easier to trust others to be a part of the process.
But when we’re pitted against each other, as is only natural in a hierarchical society, trust, collaboration, and community building are much harder to come by.
4. I have to take care of others’ needs before my own.
This is often considered a woman’s struggle but I see this in male clients as well. As often as we’re told to put on our oxygen masks, the truth is that we’re expected to sacrifice our own needs and joy for the benefit of others.
Of course the irony is that nobody else really benefits from our sacrifices.
On the surface, it may look that way, but in reality, what we do to ourselves, we do to others.
When we sacrifice our joy and our needs, what we give to others is also stripped of that joy and generally laced with repressed anger or frustration.
When we take care of our own needs and joy, we are able to give to others from a place of much more joy and gratitude.
5. Who I am and what I have to give isn’t enough.
This belief is often behind a general sense of anxiety, a feeling that we always have to be doing more and becoming a better version of ourselves.
Again, this stems from living in a culture of hierarchy, where we are told daily that we’re not enough and that we always have to give and do more.
But learning to accept that who you are and what you have to give is plenty is one of the best things you can do to create healthier boundaries in your life.
6. There isn’t enough time and I have to do all the things now.
My clients often vacillate between wanting deep rest/to burn all the things down – and wanting to experience the joy of doing all the things.
That’s valid. There are so many amazing experiences to be had in this world, and the internet makes them all so readily available.
But this belief tends to lead to doing too much and not actually being present for all of those many things.
For some clients, there is also an underlying fear of actually being present and experiencing what is in front of them, and so they take on more and more in order to avoid being present and what might come from that.
Do you relate to any of these core beliefs?
What do you think might be different if you were to explore how to shift these beliefs in your own internal landscape?
It’s a scary thing to push back against the society and family beliefs you were raised with.
And it can be the most beautiful, generative, and loving thing you do for yourself…your family…and the greater society.
p.s. Here’s a short, 10 minute meditation I created to help you understand the beliefs keeping you in burnout:
Interested in going deeper into this work? Stop the Burnout Cycle, is my digital course for women who want to uncover the stories holding them back and learn how to change them so that they feel more joy, meaning and balance in their lives. I recognize that their are societal structures keeping women stuck in burnout that we may have no control over, but there are also limiting beliefs that we have internalized that we do have control over. Stop the Burnout Cycle will help you to uncover the limiting beliefs holding you back, understand the cultural and family origins of those beliefs, and use meditation and healing techniques to help you change your beliefs so that you can thrive while prioritizing what matters most to you.