“I can’t say no,” says Madhavi Dandu, a professor and clinician at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. “I’ve always been that way. Most of the time I’ve framed it as: There are a lot of things I want to do. But now that I have two school-age children, everything I do takes away from something else, or makes it impossible to do any one thing really well.”
In addition to teaching, seeing patients, and sitting on faculty committees, Dandu fields queries from trainees seeking guidance. All get a yes. “I received that support,” she says, “so I have to be there for the students.”
Article excerpt from Psychology Today The Hardest Word
By Carlin Flora, published September 5, 2017
Does this sound familiar? It’s all part of Burnout, a phenomenon that responsible, caring , empathetic people are seriously prone to. When we find ourselves doing more and more and more and unable to say “NO” because A. We really WANT to participate B. We really WANT to help and C. We feel that it’s our duty or responsibility to contribute for one reason or another.
This is a situation I personally find myself in on a rather regular basis unfortunately. Now, I say ‘regularly’… I’ve suffered a serious bought of emotional/mental burnout twice in my life requiring a professional to say STOP. I made serious changes in my life and got a little smarter. But that doesn’t mean I don’t run toward the same situation again. I’m still me, and I still do head right that way. But now, I recognize the symptoms earlier and have learned to stop myself before really ruining things and people I love. Burnout affects the emotional, mental and absolutely the PHYSICAL wellbeing of a person. It is destructive to relationships, careers, family and hobbies. Don’t fall for it.
When things start feeling like ‘work’ instead of enjoyment, when you are leaving what you love for what you ‘must’, when you are no longer satisfied with your own productivity because you KNOW it’s not your best, STOP and look at your entire situation. For me, it’s that sense that I know what I’m doing is only half as good as it could be and that means I’m not proud of my accomplishments. The ONLY thing that would stand in that way is taking on too much. Then it’s time to say NO.
*Stop personalizing projects that don’t work. Last night, a class failed with a big ole FLOP. The script that I’ve used a hundred times didn’t work. OK. I didn’t write the script. I could not have foreseen the problem. It wasn’t MY fault. The precept for the class was good, it just didn’t work out. DONT take such things personally. Period. But if I’m stressed and starting down that burnout road.. it WILL hit me personally. Those feelings are a symptom. When it happens, stop and fix what you can, accept what you can’t and own it and laugh at it if at all possible.
*Stop feeling guilty about not saying YES to every request. Set a limit, stick to the limit and know that it’s because you want what you produce to be excellent. Here’s the twist; it’s BECAUSE you put out good work that everyone wants a piece of you. Either decide who you will produce for and stick with it, or rotate who you produce for if that pleases you more. But stick to YOUR personal work limit.
You know, I realize it’s not just me. I had this exact conversation with TWO people this morning. Don’t push yourself until you are physically and emotionally spent. And don’t Apologize for backing away from a situation that isn’t right for you! It’s nothing to apologize for; it’s taking care of you and directing your energies in the right place. We should never expect everyone to do what we do. We should not even WANT everyone to do what we do! You know, it’s so easy for people to assume that if something is fun and exciting, like performance dances, then the best way to enjoy them is to create them. That’s just not always true! If everyone is a choreographer, who is going to be in the audience? Everyone doesn’t have to do the same thing! and sometimes people really do enjoy being a dancer and not a choreo. Choreo’s don’t always enjoy being a dancer! Teaching and mentoring isn’t for everyone. Videography and Photography are n’t everyone’s skills. We don’t all have to do the same thing and maybe we all shouldn’t! imagine that.