Why Am I Burned Out?

Choice. Burnout is a choice. You chose it.

Now before you click to another tab on your browser (or close your browser altogether) in hatred for me, let me explain why you chose to be burned out.

First, I highly doubt you intended to burn yourself out. That would require some very deeply rooted self-harm thoughts and patterns, and if that’s the case, I highly encourage you seek help immediately.

In the book Disease To Please by Harriet Braiker, many of us have this desire to please others, and often times we put ourselves last, in order to do this.

  • We do too much, too often for others,

  • We almost never say no when someone asks something of us

  • We suck (like I did) at delegation

  • We become overwhelmed and spread our lives too thin

In our “Disease To Please Syndrome”, we often act to avoid fear, conflict, rejection, and confrontation. Here’s the wrinkle: Avoiding fears only causes them to intensify. Avoiding conflict creates more internal conflict.

Constantly pleasing others basically turns a deaf ear to your inner voice, so you ignore your own personal needs and desires. This causes internal stress, anxiety, depression, and other health challenges, which ultimately leads to, you guessed it: Burnout.

How do you fix these things?

Kill the “Shoulds”

I should help that person going through a personal tragedy. I should spend 20 minutes listening to that person complain about her work life, when they won’t actually do anything about it personally, because they’re doing their own avoidance exercise.

In both of these examples, you are taking on the burden of others. Noble? Yes. Stupid? Definitely. Be a sympathetic listener, give suggestions, but stop lifting their baggage.

Adjust Your Thinking Chair

Steve from Blues Clues had a thinking chair, that he sat in when he was solving mysteries with his dog Blue. Your thinking leads to burnout. Your thought patterns go to “worst-case scenario” mode as a default. Quoting the Bob Newhart skit on Mad TV: STOP IT!

Your thinking patterns need to be rational, reasoned, and accurate as possible, but please, please, please reduce the emotions and feelings you attach to your thoughts. Blame your amygdala!

People Should Treat Me This Way

As Braiker stated in Disease To Please, Holding on to conditional beliefs about how people should behave towards you, based on “all that you do/have done” for them, only sets you up for disappointment, resentment, anger, hurt. It also can create disillusions about other people as well.

In my book Pre-Emptive Strike Leadership, that I co-authored with Dr. Arlene Battishill, we often associate people with “Stand-ins”, or people that remind us of someone else. Your boss could remind you of your Dad, who wasn’t there for you, or didn’t give you the love you expected. Or your co-worker could be a stand-in or remind you of someone you worked with years ago, that “stole” your girlfriend.


If you’re burned out, it didn’t happen overnight. There isn’t a magic pill, a get more sleep post, etc. that will immediately cure you. It took time for burnout to appear, and it will take time to undo what created your burnout in the first place.

Follow me on social media (typically @bfastleadership for the social media channels), implement the suggestions I post and share, and reach out to me, to get the guidance to rid yourself of burnout, and learn the techniques I use to prevent burnout from happening again.

Be well!

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I help people recover from or prevent burnout in their lives.  Register here for my next webinar on going from burnout to your ideal life.

My 2019 Program on Burnout Recovery Coaching is HERE!