When you are born into this world, like all babies, you have certain basic needs. These needs are typically met as you are housed, clothed, and fed. But it is when we look beyond our basic needs that we find where in life we’ve gotten stuck.
We all need to feel a sense of belonging and connection to others. We need to feel that we matter and are loved. And we need to feel that we are safe. Due to one or more life events, you likely experienced a breakdown somewhere along the way.
And while it is not your fault that you’ve had these adversities or that these experiences have shaped who you’ve become, it is your responsibility to turn yourself around.
Your Brain as a Meaning Making Machine
Perhaps you grew up in a violent home or neighborhood. Each day, you felt scared for your safety and were running on adrenaline as you searched for ways to avoid conflict. Living in such an environment meant that this reality became your default and shaped your sense of security in the world.
Notice where in your life currently you feel unsafe. Is it in your romantic relationship? Or perhaps you’ve avoided a relationship altogether because you don’t feel safe being vulnerable with others? Do you feel unsafe with your boss or manager at work? Do you notice that everywhere you go, you replicate the same patterns in the people you attract? You might have come to believe that you’ll never feel safe, that “People cannot be trusted,” or that “The world is dangerous.”
What if your safety needs were met, but as the third of seven children, you received too little attention? In whatever creative way you knew how, you tried to get a piece of the limelight. You discovered that by being late, you were able to get more of that much needed attention, even if it meant negative attention.
Your brain may make up lies to explain away why you didn’t get the attention you craved. It might come up with, “You don’t deserve attention” or “You are unworthy.”
Children raised by parents who have significant medical issues, mental health challenges, or substance abuse problems are often left to fend for themselves while needing to take care of their parents.
If that was the case for you, it may have seemed that your needs were unimportant and in fact, your brain may have come up with that interpretation which continues to nag you throughout your adulthood
Whatever your circumstances early on, your brain creates a story about what’s happened to you. It tries to make sense of your experiences and over time, the meaning it derives becomes ingrained as a belief. When that interpretation is based on faulty logic, which too often is the case, this false belief can be dangerous. It can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby you put yourself in dangerous situations unknowingly or seek out negative attention from those around you, or even focus all your energy on taking care of others and giving up on getting your needs met altogether.
Your Experiences Shape Your Beliefs
Beliefs are simply thoughts you’ve had over and over again. Through repetition, they become cemented in our mind and we no longer question them. They just FEEL true.
I was born in Israel and had a pretty stable upbringing. When I was 8-years old, my parents decided to move the family to the United States. There were several difficult and challenging experiences I faced as a result of that move. Each shaped a piece of how I saw myself which continued to affect me into my adult years.
Before the move, I had this beautiful bed with an oak frame. I decorated that bed with stickers I received each time I visited the dentist. I was proud of my bed and of my stickers.
One day, I got home from school and found that my bed was gone. In preparation for the move, my parents sold the bed. I was devastated.
In hindsight, I can understand why my parents got rid of my bed. It was a piece of furniture they weren’t going to ship overseas. They probably had a million to-dos they needed to contend with and this was one of them (and likely not a very sentimental task in their eyes).
I just remember thinking, “No one asked me what I wanted.” And it is the meaning I made of this experience and others like it that made me believe that I don’t matter.
After settling into our new home and school, I had a new issue to contend with. I was a child entering third grade but I didn’t speak any English. How could I be expected to read and write when I can’t put a sentence together? To top it off, I had very little support in the way of tutoring. I was just left to sit in my chair and watch the clock tick away.
Sure, my first year in America was an immersive language experience because by fourth grade I was able to socialize with my peers without issue. But it was when I was left to fend for myself that I was back to that interpretation of, “I must not be very important” that I too often returned to.
You see, your interpretation of events creates your beliefs. But when you have a belief established, your interpretation of events then gets filtered through the lens of your existing belief. This is called Confirmation Bias. We believe something to be true and each time we look for validation of our belief. But this only keeps us in a self-fulfilling loop.
How Your Beliefs Contribute to Burnout
One of the most common limiting beliefs people have is that they are not enough. When you believe you are not enough, you tend to have these types of thoughts:
- I am damaged
- I don’t know how to do that
- I am an imposter
- No one wants to hear what I have to say
- I am a disappointment
- I am not lovable
- I don’t deserve a happy life
- I don’t have what it takes to succeed in life
- I am a bad person
- I am a failure
Not surprisingly, when your mind is filled with these negative thoughts, you tend to experience these negative feelings:
Notice the overlap between this list of emotions and how you feel when you are burned out. In addition, when you believe you are not enough, you may have thoughts such as, “I am insignificant” or “I am undesirable” which feed your sadness or anger. These thoughts might also feed your sense of entrapment if you try to compensate for your limiting belief by pushing yourself to work hard and still not be able to break out of this notion that it’s “not enough.”
When you feel all of these negative emotions, you tend to engage in certain actions as a result. You might:
- Give up easily on your goals
- Play small
- Eat chocolate
- Binge watch Netflix
- Drink alcohol
- Isolate yourself
- Shut people out
- Try to prove yourself by working more
- Take your anger out at your children
- Become self-critical
- Accept too little pay for your work
- Stay in a dead-end job
- Judge others
In other words, when we are in a negative state, our behaviors are often self-defeating.
Perhaps this phenomenon can best be illustrated through what happens when it is reversed.
If you are someone who settles because you feel blocked and because you believe you’re not enough, let’s see what might be possible if you were to change your belief.
When people believe they are enough, here are the types of thoughts they have instead:
- I can do anything I put my mind to
- I am really gifted
- I make things happen
- I am extraordinary
- I have a successful career
- I have everything I want
- I am creative and resourceful
- I can change anything I put my mind to
- I matter
- I make the impossible possible
When your mind is filled with these positive messages and loving thoughts, here’s how you feel:
Quite a contrast to the previous set of emotions, right?
From this place of strength and positivity, you are more likely to take these types of actions:
- Ask for a raise
- Take risks
- Help others
- Play full out
- Work hard (if you were slacking previously)
- Take time for yourself (if you were working too hard before)
- Laugh unapologetically
- Speak up
- Start your own business
- Get rid of clutter
- Pursue your passion
- Respect your boundaries
- Say no to others
- Take better care of yourself
Isn’t it amazing how changing one belief can transform how you show up at work and in your life? Can you see how believing you are not enough can lead you to burn out?
Now it’s your time to reflect. What needs have you given up on? Which needs aren’t being met? If you want to be validated, feel financially secure, feel accepted or even celebrated…but you’re not, this is an unmet need.
Stop trying to avoid getting disappointed and setting the bar low. You are simply reliving your past and allowing your brain’s faulty interpretation to control your life.
When my parents sold my bed, they didn’t ask me. But it wasn’t because I wasn’t important. It was because they were overwhelmed by everything they had to do. As often happens in life, we don’t get it perfect. We focus on the big picture and miss the little details.
In this imperfect life, we’ve all endured challenging experiences that have left their mark on us. If you are feeling burnt out at work or even in life, it’s time to check in with yourself about your limiting beliefs, identify which needs are not being met, and upgrade your story to one that aligns with how you want to feel and the results you want to create in the world.
Finally, you don’t have to figure all this out on your own. If you want to quickly identify your limiting beliefs and work to turn them around, schedule a Breakthrough Session with me. We’ll uncover where you are stuck in your life, what your goals are, and how to turn your obstacles into strategies. Go to www.bookachatwithsharon.com to get started.
You are worth it.
If you’re burning out, download the Burnout Checklist to see which stage you are in and what you need to focus on to recover. Go to: www.drsharongrossman.com/burnoutchecklist