Burned Out

A few weeks ago while out walking, we happened upon a burned out vehicle. There wasn’t any police tape indicating foul play; there was nothing about it in the newspaper or online, so we don’t have any idea how it happened.

Burned Out

The scene reminded me of a conversation I had with a person many years ago who opened the conversation with, “I’m burned out.” When I asked for details, she said:

 “My schedule is so over-committed that I don’t have any ‘me’ time. I don’t have time to exercise, and because of time constraints, meals have become a steady stream of fast food. I’m not sleeping well so I’m physically exhausted. I can’t seem to focus at work, and my relationship is falling apart. Frankly, I’m not enjoying life anymore.”

It all boiled down to her inability to say “no.” A people pleaser, she said “yes” to everything requested of her. Quite some time ago I learned how to effectively say no with finesse from my friend and personality expert Sheila Glazov: That does not work for me.

Is it difficult for you to say “no?”

© Laurie Buchanan

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66 thoughts on “Burned Out

  1. Several of my writing buddies have announced they are taking a break from social media as a pre-emptive measure to avoid burn-out. I admire their bold move. I have cut back, especially on Facebook, a time-eater, if you don’t watch out.

    How appropriate that this post airs the day before Ash-Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, a wonderful time to beginning saying No to the non-essential.

  2. It used to be. I’m getting better at it. Your friend’s description of her burnout was all too familiar to me not very long ago, and serves as a good reminder. I think many women are raised to be ‘pleasers’, Laurie. It can take a lifetime to realize we need to learn a new behavior; one that puts us at the center of our own lives.

  3. I suffered greatly from burnout – “compassion fatigue” for caregivers in particular. Learning to say no is an important part of the battle. For me, learning to fill my own well and then to give only from my abundance was an important next step. Thanks for the wonderful reminder, Laurie.

  4. Laurie, last summer I became “burnt-out ” because of the demands on my time. In an effort to give a good accounting for myself at the end of the day, I had neglected to take care of the most important part of the equation, ME! I really should Write down Sheila’s words and put them on the refrigerator as a reminder, ” That doesn’t work for me.” No excuses, no reasoning, that doesn’t work for me. Brilliant words! Thank you for the reminder.

  5. Yes, I have a hard tie saying “NO.” Except to myself, evidently. When I’m overly-burdened with obligations, it is my stuff that gets set aside. I was thinking of a self-improvement regimen for Lent…maybe the improvement I’ll go for is just becoming more considerate of my own needs. Thanks, Laurie!

  6. I’ve learned to say, “no,” but sometimes it’s something one has to weigh against benefits.
    I’m actually more interested in the burned out car, and I’m wondering about the story there.

  7. There was a time when saying no was hard for me. After I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery and chemo, I realized life was temporary and things that needed to be done usually waited for me. Now I always allow myself plenty of “me” time.

  8. “No” is one of the most important words in the world. Had I not learned to say it, I’d be a goner and burned to a crisp. Starting tomorrow I’m taking time off from social media. I’ll miss you though, and will be back in April!

  9. Totally unrelated – the pic of that burned out car just gave me an idea for the scene of a play I have to write for a class this week!.

    Thanks! And no, I don’t have much trouble saying no. I have trouble saying yes. 😉

  10. Good question! It’s not hard for me t say “no” when I recognize I’m nearing the end of my rope, or close to feeling “burned out, ” but I’m generally enthusiastic about a lot of things and sometimes say yes, but not out of obligation. The trouble comes in when I haven’t assessed the totality of all I’m doing and I really need the down time. I do need to be a little wiser much of the time. 🙂

  11. Working with churches taught me “no” to my time very early on in life, now in my unemployed state I do almost nothing I do not want to do, that does not include my love of reading – I want to read so many that are offered. Very difficult to say NO for a book.

    If I approach the book via my time and calendar, then I am able to say ” That does not work for me” with ease and no excuses. I work at not thinking about all the books that are offered because that would be overwhelming. Addicted to reading am I…

  12. Thank you, Laurie, for this awakening post that generated such wise comments.
    ‘No’ has been a difficult word for me to say. I don’t want to step on toes; I don’t want to hurt feelings; I don’t want to appear selfish. But, I’ve learned, that I owe it to others to take of myself. This means being honest and learning to nurture myself.
    And a ‘no’ from me allows others to participate.

  13. I often have difficulty saying no, and I am able to say no.
    I have said no to all animal products and all the sweet treat foods that I loved, and it took the threat of imminent death to bring me to that decision, and I have stuck to it for almost 5 years.

    I enjoy novelty in a sense, so I find it hard to say no to invitations to novelty.

    I enjoy helping others, so I find it hard to say no to someone who is a request for my assistance to help themselves.

    And I seem to be at a reasonably mature balance between my own short and long term needs and desires, and the needs and desires (both short and long term) of both other people and the physical and living environments that sustain us all.

    I am able to say no, and do, and I usually prefer to say yes, and do.

    I have a full schedule, and I make time in it for a wide variety of experiences, including times with family, time on the golf course, time for study, time for contemplation, time for contribution. And sometimes that necessitates saying no to things.

  14. In my previous job and role I had to say no often and it wasn’t a problem, but it’s a bit more difficult when it is me personally, but getting better at it. I’m also trying to cut back time in social media otherwise there’s not time for the truly important things.

  15. Hi Laurie, This is such an important question, and valuable life lesson as well. I learned to say “no” many years ago by turning it from saying “no” to someone else to saying “yes” to me, as a way of nurturing myself. So, yes; I’m very good at saying Yes (to me). That sometimes comes out as “I’ll have to give that some thought” (which returns as a thoughful no). I loved what someone above said, “That doesn’t work for me” because we are owning it’s OUR decision, and not a verdict on the suitability of the request or the requester. AND, I”ll also just add that I’m noticing now, 20some years later, that I am saying Yes to others on a much more regular and comfortable basis. Because I truly want to.

  16. My favorite quote concerning the word ‘no’ is this: “”No” is a complete sentence.”” I never really had an issue saying ‘no’ before, but I *did* have an issue leaving it at that, without feeling obligated to justify or provide an elaborate, convincing, totally understandable reason for my ‘no’. Now I just remember that the word ‘no’ itself is a complete sentence. No need to plunge into my life story after saying it… 😉

  17. Many years ago I was so ill because I repeatedly said YES that the only way to cure myself was to say NO . Over the years I got really good at it and people I knew would say’ I have this problem Cherry and I really don’t know how to get out of it because they are really nice people who have asked blah blah and I don’t want to hurt their feelings …your good at it , what’s the answer ?’
    Just say NO , I would say ‘ true friends will understand . However Laurie , I said NO so many times that I was starting to miss out on LIFE . So when we moved to our new life I decided , for the fun of it , I would say YES for a change, and do you know, I can’t believe the fun I am having and the friends I am making .
    The moral of the story is only do things when you WANT to do them not when others EXPECT you to do them . In the past I felt bogged down and exhausted now I feel alive and vibrant .
    Cherryx

    • Cherry — I love the moral of your story: Only do the things you WANT to do, not what others EXPECT you to do. I’m thrilled to pieces that you’re having fun and making friends in your new life 🙂

  18. It used to be difficult for me to say “no,” but I’ve had so much practice it has become almost easy. It’s no fun disappointing people. But I learned in therapy 20+ years ago that I could trust that others will find a way to cope with their own disappointments.

    But I do remember that burned out feeling so well as I tried to help care for elderly and terminally ill family members.

  19. Aye Laurie, it has always been difficult to say no–it is part of my personality. As a result I have been in that burned-out phrase more times than I would like to admit. But the upside is that there has never been a side of me that becomes depressed. Ever. I quickly rebound from any perceived or real obstacle, and immerse myself in my family and many interests. As we gain more experiences we learned how to handle things as we move along. I love that metaphor of the burned out car!

  20. Laurie, I have never understood being “burned out” until recently. Am not sure it was about being a people pleaser (although that may have had something to do with it) but have felt totally burned out with blogging after six years. However, whenever I say something like that I find myself blogging the next day, so keep an eye on your inbox. 😉

  21. I am a master at saying No these days, after finding how ungrateful and inconsiderate employers can be. If a proposition doesn’t suit me or my family, I simply say ‘No, but thank you for thinking of me. That’s very kind of you’. No harm done and everyone is happy. There will always be someone else who will accept the offer. Nobody is indispensable.

  22. Nobody appreciates you for saying yes to everything… least of all yourself…. saying no appropriately is very freeing, although difficult!

  23. Again a thoughtful post….I think as we age we learn wisdom through life’s teacher and in so doing care for ourselves.

    Alexa-asimplelife visiting from Sydney, Australia

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