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Burn Out & Ego: An Unlikely Pairing

Credit: CottonBro Studio x Pexels

Many may not pair ego and burnout together but the two are strongly connected. Most people come to the place of burnout because they are taking on more than they can actually sustain. To function in or to be led by ego (meaning self) is a setup for operating on your own and usually beyond your ability; it leads you into a self-driven space where burn out is bound to happen. Understanding how ego works supports in steering you away from becoming overwhelmed into a place called rest.

Ego comes in many shapes and sizes and it is an impetus for exhaustion. Are you the type of person too afraid to share the weight for the team project, fearful that others just can't possibly fulfill the overall vision? Are you the friend who drafts up the entire itinerary in order to control the festivities on the weekend get-away? Do you secretly desire to take all the credit, so you'd rather do it yourself instead of sharing the stage with others? Were you responsible for your younger siblings growing up and have gradually become a hyper-responsible adult? Again, ego doesn't show up in one way; it has many faces and isn't always the loudest person in the room. Knowing this and how it shows up in your life is key.

When you discover how ego presents itself in your daily journey, you are better equipped at pinpointing the areas where you may be overworking yourself. Overworking can be physical and mental; it can also be seen as a form of worry. Worry itself is a behavior used as a coping mechanism for dealing with anxiety in both your personal and professional experiences. It is important to note that worry is not just a mental activity. For example, worry may look like quadruple checking your work; explaining yourself multiple times; or coming in early and staying late at the office. Worry is behavior that shows up as a thought, in your speech, and in physical actions; it can be seen as the core of burnout. When there is a fear of taking a pause or sharing the load the sense of being overwhelmed is usually the outcome.

It is safe to say that burnout is not the goal, so here are a few quick preventative tips:

  • Know how ego shows up in your life.

  • Face and heal the worry ego is obsessing over.

  • Take a pause in between projects and associated tasks.

  • Prioritize health including mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

  • Ask for help.


Sit comfortably with your pen and journal and consider the following questions regarding ego & burnout:

  • Is there a fear of taking a pause?

  • Is my overall well-being worth resting and asking for help?

  • Do I sincerely believe my natural efforts contribute to the success of the project/workplace/relationship?

It is important to note that your efforts can very well be enough but you may not be able to see them as enough.

  • Be sure to journal your experience.


This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


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