Burnout and the myth of being extraordinary

This post was written by Megan on January 1, 2010
Posted Under: burnout and stress management,myths and assumptions about burnout

The myth of being extraordinary


Many have described Mother Teresa as being "tireless in helping others".   As someone with chronic fatigue, I can understand how a burned out individual might find this hard to imagine.  Being 'tireless' that is.  

That burnt out individual might also feel a little resentful about the term 'tireless'.  The worshipping of 'tireless generosity' in our society can really get to you if you're feeling constantly challenged by what to have for breakfast.  

But just because we resent the reference, it doesn't mean we don't respect and honour the person.  In fact, like everyone else, we are likely to view tireless people as extraordinary.

But who knows? Mother Teresa might have had naps on the sly. The woman did something to prevent herself from getting too tuckered out.  The secret might be found in a quote by her: 

(found in 'The Art of Encouragement – A Simple Guide to Living Life from the Heart' by Candy Paull)

"Do not think that love, in order to be genuine,
has to be extraordinary.
What we need is to love without getting tired."

I'd hazard a guess, Mother Teresa wasn't talking about 'slow nookie'.  What she was referring to was how we love those around us.  And perhaps not just friends and family, but also how we show love through our work.  


Mattafix on being extraordinary

Soweto-inspired urban groove band Mattafix has a song that often rips my heart out.  This can be embarrassing when I hear it in public.  The track is called 'Living Darfur' (on the album Rhythm & Hymns) and it possibly has some relevance to those with burnout.  

The main recurring line is 'You shall rise".  That's enough to have me weeping in the yoghurt section at the supermarket.  But another line of the song goes: "You don't have to be extraordinary – just forgiving"


What being extraordinary has to do with burnout

We often become burnt out by trying too hard to be extraordinary.  Why?  If we fail at being extraordinary, we doubt our 'lovability'.  And if we are not loveable we may not survive.  Sounds dramatic, but it's got high Google ranking in your sub-conscious.

And when we are too tired to push ourselves through that dark labyrinth of breakfast decision-making, the horrible truth becomes very clear.  And very simple.  We can't be extraordinary now.  We're too tired.

But as Mother Teresa and Mattafix have stated with poetic gusto, you don't have to be extraordinary.  It's okay.  Take the pressure off.  Just love and forgive as you can, and then take a nap.  You will rise anyway. 


This post was written by Megan Hills – Megan has no religious affiliation and was surprised to discover that the singer in Mattafix is actually a guy.  She also enjoys ranting about things like burnout and chronic fatigue to anyone who will listen. 
Find out more about Megan.

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