Emotional Burnout, Recovery & Living Your Real Life, 2
Can emotional burnout be an important part of your life journey? How does emotional burnout recovery relate to our major life transitions?
In my last post, we began looking at the anatomy of emotional burnout, and what it might mean to experience emotional burnout recovery. Now let’s examine burnout more closely as a part of the individuation process.
Emotional Burnout Itself as Major Life Transition
Often, the experience of emotional burnout can itself have the character of a major life transition. By this I mean that the actual experience of burning out, itself, and of emotional burnout recovery can have a kind of death and rebirth character. The individual may experience a complete loss of flavor and color in the things he or she is doing in professional life, and/or in other aspects of life. This may be accompanied by a complete loss of energy and motivation. Whatever zest or enthusiasm the individual may have had for the career or other life activity at some earlier point in their journey, it becomes apparent to the individual that that particular way of living is over and gone for him or her.
It becomes apparent to the person that some new way must be found. There must be a kind of rebirth that gives life value, enabling the individual to find energy for living. The individual will find themselves on a journey to restore the lost joy of life and zest in working. When the he or she does find it, there will be a strong sense of having been through a major passage. Emotional burnout is itself the bridge from one way of being in the person’s life to another.
Emotional Burnout Occurring Alongside Another Major Transition
Yet, emotional burnout may also accompany any of a large number of other significant life transitions. Below are only some of the other life transitions that can lead to emotional breakdown:
In addition to each of these, emotional burnout has a complex relationship to anxiety and depression. A person who is struggling with pre-existing anxiety or depression may very well find that emotional burnout, with its sense of the loss of value and meaning, eventually becomes part of what they are experiencing. And, from a /a-midlife-transition perspective, that brings us clearly to the question of the relationship between emotional burnout recovery and the unconscious mind — more specifically, the shadow.
Emotional Burnout and Shadow
Shadow is the term that is used for all those aspects of the personality of which the person is unaware, and /or which they do not want to acknowledge. People often assume that the shadow embodies all that is wrong, weak or morally deficient in a person, and, very often, there is truth in this. However, it’s not the whole story. There are many elements of ourselves that are in the shadow which we actually need to find a subjective sense of wholeness and completeness, and, often, to find a forward direction in our lives.
This can be particularly true in situations of emotional burnout. It may well be that aspects of the burnout sufferer’s personality which have been unable to find expression through a certain career or series of life commitments are now simply demanding the attention of the individual, whether the person’s conscious ego likes it or not. It may well be time to listen to this aspect of the self, even though it takes us into unfamiliar, unexplored territory. As the Sufi poet Rumi puts it so well:
Sometimes, it can be hard to even visualize an alternative to the work world and commitment world that we have created for ourselves. And very often, the work of case studies is discovery that life-giving altenatives exist, if only we can be open to them.
Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst