Join Our Community

Best Remedy for Burnout?

Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors

Best Remedy for Burnout?

Take a leap of faith!
Joan Z. Borysenko Ph.D.
Joan Z. Borysenko Ph.D. More by this author
Jan 11, 2011 at 09:00 AM

The process of letting go and moving on that all of us face is both enlivening and terrifying. What if you decide to leave a relationship but you can’t pay the rent on your own? What if you finally quit a job that’s burning you out and end up as a statistic in the annals of unemployment? It takes courage to walk away from a bird in the hand to catch a more beautiful one that’s still in the bush. But this familiar tension is the plot that animates the best of adventures.

The most successful Hollywood epics are based on what happens when the hero makes a leap (or is pushed) into the unknown. Anthropologists refer to this letting go of the old as a rite of passage. It consists of three parts: the hero separates from his or her former life, confronts ordeals in the intermediate time between “no longer and not yet,” and finally enters the “promised land” of a new life transformed by the adventure.

The late, great mythologist Joseph Campbell called this evolutionary leap the hero’s journey. But the three-part anatomy of change and transformation isn’t limited to epic stories. It’s the map of soul growth for all of us, lived out in the more familiar contexts of love and work.

Consider Meryl Streep’s character, Jane Adler, in the 2009 film It’s Complicated. Jane’s 20-year marriage ends when she’s dumped for a younger woman (separation from the old life), which pushes her into the second stage of the journey, the liminal time between no longer and not yet. By the end of the film (having faced the ordeals of living on her own, discovering her passion in work, and coming to grips with her ex who suddenly wants her back), Jane has blossomed and enters the final stage of the journey: transformation and empowerment.

Transformation—a deepening into one’s authentic nature—is what burnout ultimately demands. Just as an acorn has an entelechy (an inner blueprint that expresses itself as an oak tree), each one of us has an inner essence that we mature into. That essence is expressed by following our passion, our deepest longing, our bliss.

“Follow your bliss,” Joseph Campbell insisted, which inspired an entire generation of spiritual seekers. That sounds easy enough, but actually pulling it off requires courage, trust, and faith. There are dragons to slay before you can claim the future that has been searching for you all along. There is no map for the journey, and trusting the GPS inside you takes chutzpah.

When my husband, Gordon, and I wrote Your Soul’s Compass, we interviewed 27 sages from different wisdom traditions, trying to get some idea of how to listen to that inner direction finder. One of the sages we spoke to was Episcopal priest Reverend Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault, who is among the greatest female wisdom teachers of our time. When we asked Reverend Cynthia how to listen for inner guidance, she focused on two areas: paying exquisite attention to the cues that life provides and trusting the unknown. She compared the latter to making a leap of faith, intuitively knowing that you’re not diving into an empty swimming pool.

About Author
Joan Z. Borysenko Ph.D.
Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., is one of the leading experts on stress, spirituality, and the mind/body connection. She has a doctorate in medical sciences from Harvard Medical School, is a licensed clinical psychologist, and is the co-founder and former dir Continue reading