How Journaling Can Help Burn-Out


Burnout doesn’t happen because of outside world experiences or situations: it's an “inside job".

Does Journaling really work? Can burnout be avoided? What even is burn-out…? Wait, do I..have burnout? How do I know if I have burnout or not…? It sounds painful….

In my article I wrote for LinkedIn, “Burnout Is An Inside Job”, I talk about burnout and its causes, which often are not directly related to anything going on in one’s external world. Rather, burn out is an “inside job” that occurs because of living in constant internal (and often unconscious) conflict about what you need and what is being asked of you.

Ongoing stress like this will also end up in a state of burn out when you don’t have enough internal support to align your outside world demands with your inside world needs.

Burnout doesn't happen because of outside world experiences or situations. Burnout is an “inside job” that happens because someone needs something different and they don’t have the internal emotional supports to move towards this different need.

Right about now you might be grumbling to yourself that this is heresy and impossible: no one can only do what they want to do in this lifetime, you’ll get left behind or fired or labeled as selfish or narcissistic. Although all these things may happen in response to you going for what you need and want in life, I disagree that someone who takes care of themselves is a selfish or narcissistic person.

And believe me, I know some very narcissistic people, personally and professionally. A selfish person is not someone who takes care of themselves. A selfish person is someone who doesn't just take care of themselves, they expect everyone else to take care of them too. This is where narcissists get stuck: they miss the first part of this equation, that is to know about and attend to their true needs and continue to stay focused on this part of their process.

Most selfish and narcissistic people really aren't taking care of themselves, not their true needs. They are focused only on self-preservation, which is only going to go so far towards building a life of satisfaction

You are not narcissistic if you are focused on your true happiness and doing the things you want to do.

What I’m proposing is something far different than this: building the inner supports around true needs in order to begin to move towards things which are more satisfying and away from things which lead to dissatisfaction.

This requires consciousness and awareness to get started. And journaling is one tool for helping us begin to build a journey of consciousness and awareness in our lives.

The art of journaling is a powerful tool for helping begin to build mindfulness into our lives and our actions. When we sit down to journal about something that has happened to us or that we are feeling, it is impossible not to go back to that experience and learn more about what is going on. Journaling brings an experience of mindfulness to life that we don’t always get when we are going through the motions of day to day life.

One of the things that I like to teach about journaling is that it can take many different forms of expression. I used to always think that to journal I had to sit down with a piece of paper or journal and my favorite pen and let my inner world spill out onto the paper. That didn't always work for me, for a variety of reasons. As I have grown and learned more, I now know that journaling takes on many different forms of expression. How you journal is not nearly important as the process of journaling.

I tend to believe that the most important thing about journaling, and the factor that often determines whether you will actually sit down to journal or not, is to find the style of journaling that works best for you. Choose the best medium that resonates and speaks to you. As long as you are pouring your heart into it and sharing your vulnerability, that’s what matters.

Some of my favorite mediums for journaling are videos, chalk pastels when I work with visual journaling, and have even been known to use dirt and props from nature to create images and messages about what is going on inside with me.

Burn out is an excellent situation in which journaling can help us get clearer about what is going on in the outside world around us. Journaling can help us also get clearer about our inner reactions to the circumstances involved in burn out too. And believe it or not, journaling can also help us begin to learn about what we want and need.

Journaling might not necessarily help us be able to take the next step in our process, away from burn out experiences in order to move towards less burnout in our lives, but it absolutely can help us get clearer about what is going on and what we might need to do next.

It’s a pretty important and necessary step of the healing process.

Often, to take this next step, we need outside help from a therapist and a supportive community which welcome us with open arms to help us learn about and clear what gets in the way of us being able to take action to decrease burnout and build more peace into our lives.

Burnout is often a result of boundary conflict and defeating energy inside. We won’t even know that this is going on without some kind of mindfulness practice such as journaling or reflection of some kind.

What I have learned in my own emotional journey of healing is that greater consciousness creates greater satisfaction.

Perhaps not always in the short term, but definitely always in the long run.

Journaling helps us build the consciousness and awareness that we need to experience more satisfaction, especially in the case of burnout in our lives or relationships.

Sometimes with greater consciousness or awareness we see how things have changed or are no longer satisfying and perhaps require a different response from us. In the beginning, this can feel incredibly uncomfortable as we are not used to taking care of ourselves in this manner. With support and practice, it gets easier. Lots easier.

It doesn't matter how you journal, just journal.

Go gently forward.

Kate Schroeder is a psychotherapist and coach who utilizes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ® and the Enneagram, as well as experiential body-mind-spirit healing practices to work with and heal Bipolar and other mental health diagnoses. Join Kate’s Visual Journaling Group on Facebook for more support in finding your true self or sign up for her newsletter here.

To learn how to communicate more effectively and start changing your life download her guided imagery program, Soul Meditations: Building A Relationship That Lasts.

This article was originally published at Transformation Counseling, LLC. Reprinted with permission from the author.