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The Shame Around Burnout: Why We Buy Into It and How to Break Free?

Why do we often experience shame around burnout? How can it keep us from getting the help we need? Here are the 5 practical tips offering you a way out of shame and way into your recovery.


By Roksana Fraczek | Dream-Career

Photo: Dream-Career via Canva


Do you feel like you're drowning at work? Are you constantly running on empty and believe you must deal with it all on your own? Just like you, millions of people suffer from burnout in silence around the world. But suffering in silence doesn't help the situation, if anything, it only makes things worse. Burnout is a serious problem that can have devastating consequences on your health, relationships, and career. So, why do you allow it to rob you of your health and happiness?


Let's talk about shame.

When you're suffering from burnout you most likely feel like you're failing. You feel like you're not good enough and that you should be able to handle it all on your own; otherwise, you're "weak". This belief is extremely dangerous as it may lead you to feelings of shame, isolation, and inadequacy.

"Shame is produced through our surrender to the bullying of our inner critic" - Peter Michaelson, Author, Psychotherapist

Shame is a powerful emotion that can keep you trapped in silence and isolation. It's important to understand the role that shame plays in your burnout so that you can break free from it and embark on the path to recovery.


The shaming offensive against you.


If you are not sure if shame is relevant to you, here are some examples of the lies your mind might be throwing at you to make you feel ashamed:

  • "You should be able to handle it on your own."

  • "You're weak."

  • "You're a failure."

  • "You're alone in this."

  • "You're not good enough."

  • "You don't deserve help."

  • (and my absolute favorite) "You're pathetic nobody should see you like this!"

These messages keep you small. They make you feel like you're not worthy of help or healing. They're designed to keep you stuck in the pain and silence.


Why are shame and burnout a deadly combination?

When you're suffering from burnout, shame can be a powerful force that prevents you from seeking help or reaching out to others. Here is why:

Shame keeps you isolated and disconnected.


When you're feeling ashamed, you want to hide away and withdraw from the world. You believe that you're unworthy of connection and belonging, so you isolate yourself in an attempt to protect yourself from further shame and hurt. This only exacerbates the feelings of loneliness and despair.

Shame robs you of your self-worth.


Shame makes you believe you're not good enough. It makes you buy into a belief that you're weak and flawed which cuts directly into your identity. It's no longer about what you do but about who you are. This toxic thinking can make it extremely difficult for you to seek help or make any changes in your life that could improve the situation. After all, how can you go against who you are, right? Wrong! Remember these are all lies.


Shame shuts down the door to recovery.


Burnout hates being spoken about. When you're ashamed of your burnout, you're less likely to look for help or seek professional support. And the less you talk about it, the more control it has over you. This means you're more likely to stay stuck in the cycle of burnout, which can lead to serious, long-term consequences on your health, relationships, and well-being.


"Shame thrives on secrecy, silence, and judgment." Brené Brown, Author, Researcher

So, why do you keep silent?


This is the key question that you need to ask yourself. Why do you allow burnout to keep you trapped in pain and deprive you of your happiness and health? Have a look at the below examples, is there anything that rings true for you in there?

  • You are afraid of being judged.

  • You are worried that people will think we're weak.

  • You don't want to be a burden on others.

  • You don't want to admit that you're struggling.

  • You are afraid of losing control.

  • You don't want to seem vulnerable.

  • You are afraid of being rejected.

Or to put it simply: you feel a lot of shame.


The bottom line here is that when we experience burnout we're often afraid of what others might think or say. We're afraid of being judged, rejected, or seen as weak. But the truth is, burnout can happen to anyone anywhere. It doesn't discriminate. And the only way to break free from its grip is to speak up and get help. But one question remains how to pass by the shame?


Breaking free from shame.


One of the most powerful cures for shame is deeply felt empathy. When we reach out and bare our souls with someone who truly cares and shows understanding shame fades and healing occurs.


Here are some practical steps you can take on your road to recovery.


Step #1 - Become aware of your inner critic.


The first step is to become aware of the negative, shaming voice in your head. Start to notice when it speaks up and what kind of things it says. This will help you to start to distance yourself from the voice and see it for what it is: a liar.


Step #2 - Challenge your thoughts.


Once you've become aware of the negative voice in your head, you can start to challenge the thoughts it's feeding you. These messages have power over you only as long as you buy into them. When you catch yourself believing the lies, ask yourself: "What if the opposite was true? What are some situations in my life that prove this negative thought is wrong?" We both know you have successfully overcome a lot of difficult situations in your life. Don't simply buy into the ruthless allegations!


Step #3 - Speak kindly to yourself.


The way you talk to yourself matters. Be gentle and understanding with yourself. Beating yourself up is not going to help you recover from burnout. In fact, it will only make things worse. Instead, try practicing self-compassion by speaking to yourself with kindness and understanding. Show yourself the same compassion you would show to a friend in a difficult situation.


Step #4 - Break the silence.


The more you talk about your burnout, the less power it has over you. Find someone you can trust to confide in and share your experiences with. Rember isolation and secrets only make things worse.


Step #5 - Seek professional help.


A qualified specialist can provide you with support and guidance as you navigate the road to recovery. Burnout is a serious issue and it's important to reach out for help before it's too late. Don't let shame silence you.


The road to recovery.


We often buy into the stigma around burnout. We believe that we should be able to handle everything that's thrown at us. We shouldn't need help. And if we do ask for help, we're seen as weak or unable to cope. This stigma keeps us from getting the support we need to recover from burnout.


Thankfully, you can recover from burnout.


"To start healing, you first need to break free from the shame that's holding you."

By becoming more aware of your inner dialogue, you can start challenging the negative thoughts that are feeding into your shame. And by reaching out for support, you can begin to rebuild your sense of self-worth and connection.


If you're struggling with burnout, know that you're not alone. Reach out to someone you can trust and enter the road to recovery today.


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We never know who might be silently going through a difficult time and might be in need of help. If you liked this post and found it helpful, be sure to share it with your friends. To stay tuned for more on mental health, well-being, and personal development, you can subscribe to the newsletter by using the button below. Thank you for reading!


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