When you hear the word forest, do you think only of trees and nothing more? Certainly, there is more to a forest than trees. But, when someone hears the word forest, trees usually come to mind because they are the most prominent and striking feature of a forest.
In truth, you can not have a forest populated only with trees. You must also have underbrush, insects, birds, mammals, reptiles mosses, fungi, and rich earth. None of these will exist well without the others. All are part of a whole, each just as important as the other. Remove one and the entire forest suffers.
When thinking of yourself, do you view yourself in just one way or many? Individuals who are burned out see themselves fundamentally different than people who are engaged.
Individuals suffering from burnout feel as though they have few choices. Their vision of self has narrowed to a point where possibilities seem to few, too far away or simply unobtainable. They have become monolithic in their thinking.
They tend to have too large a view of just one aspect of themselves, the one aspect which seems most prominent, the one aspect which is suffering the most. The tendency is to focus on this one aspect and try to fix it to the exclusion of all else. This not only the wrong thing to do, it is 100% opposite of the right thing to do.
When I became burned out as a family physician, working harder as a family physician wasn’t the answer. I had to take a long hard look at the other areas of my life, the areas I had left unattended for far too long.
It was if I had nurtured only my life as a physician while letting all other aspects of my life slowly die off from inattentiveness. My life was out of balance.
Things began to change for the better when I began to devote more time to the other realms – mental, emotional, physical and spiritual – and arenas of my life – family, community (social), relationships, environmental, intellectual, financial, legal, and moral – not just to my occupation.
I had to come to the realization that I had let what I did for a living, my job as a physician, become entirely who I was. The results were dismal. I had to make a decision to become more of who I was supposed to be. Once I began to take in a different view of myself, new and exciting possibilities began to appear right in front of me.
I was no longer just a physician. I discovered I was also a writer, an online radio host, a coach, a speaker, an artist, and much, much more. I reacquainted myself with my core values and began to celebrate them more in everything I did and every decision I made.
I became engaged. Everything changed, and will continue to change, because I am no longer stuck. When you are fully engaged in living you will go from becoming, to being your better self.
It is not about becoming complex. It isn’t about the acquisition of new skills. It isn’t about becoming something you’re not. It’s about knowing or remembering who you are by embracing your unique talents and abilities while honoring your core values.
Do this, and you will never look at yourself in the same way ever again. Or, a forest either for that matter.
Do you feel you are stuck and burned out? Fully engaged? Or, somewhere in between? What steps will you take to see more of the forest than the trees?