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Skyros Blog

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Are you one of these remarkable people who have always worked, given, contributed your highest and your best, and are now feeling burnt out, stressed, exhausted, cut off, ill or just plain miserable?

If so, you may be burning out. But don’t give up. Always remember: You are not alone. You are not wrong to be where you are. And there is a way forward, a wonderful path of joy.

Burnout comes to people who have reached the end of a particular road but don’t acknowledge it.  Our soul is whispering, but we are not listening.  We have learned to give and to love in many beautiful ways.  But we don’t always know how to honour ourselves enough to stop what no longer serves us. 

In the words of the old fairy tale, we are willing to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, namely our own true selves. In so doing, we risk losing everything—our health, our happiness, even our lives.

Burnout forces us to stop, and then hopefully we will listen to its life-saving message and take action, so that we may find again that which sustains us and will bring us joy.

As Carl, a high-flying manager who lost his marriage and his job through burnout put it, “Burnout was life catching up with me, creating the space for the real me to emerge.”

How do I recognize burnout? The doctor doesn’t seem to!

Burnout can happen at any age, and it can happen because of your work or your relationship, anywhere you invest your energy, heart, and passion, and receive a sense of meaning. The trouble starts when your heart and passion go out of it, but you are unwilling even to look at what’s not working and make some choices.  

I myself burnt out, as I have written about at length in my book The Joy of Burnout, and this is why I know so much about it, and how painful and debilitating it can be, and I want to help people to avoid some of the mistakes I made.

How do you recognize burnout in yourself or others?  Doctors may not help, as they will often call it depression, or anxiety, or overwork, or they will name an illness and try to cure the symptoms. 

So here are some important questions to ask:

If the answer to any of these is yes -- and particularly if your fire is low -- you may well be burning out or about to burn out.

The burnout trail 

Having studied my own burnout deeply, and having worked with or interviewed about 75 people who recognised themselves as burnt out, including novelist Sue Townsend, and have talked and corresponded with many others, I can now describe this typical sequence leading to burnout:

Radical Healing

Once we have diagnosed burnout, or an incipient burnout, we can begin to protect ourselves from further harm, and help ourselves to find a new way forward.  We need what I call Radical Healing, which aims not at getting the old show back on the road, but at finding out what our new show may be. 

These are the steps, in brief:

  1. Stop, give up hope and keep the faith. This means that we have to give up holding it all together, stop hoping for whatever future it was that we thought we had to have, and yet trust that we will be okay no matter what the form. I may never never have that thing I thought was more important than life itself, and I’m still okay.
  2. Create a palace for our soul, rather than the hovel we may have been living in. In other words we must care now for the goose rather than the golden eggs.
  3. Put truth first and everything else second.  The road to burnout was paved with denial.  Now is the time to face the truth.
  4. Reach out to soul communities -- friends, networks, teachers, even books and CDs -- which help us to be accepted for who we really are and not what we produce or deliver. 
  5. Eventually, once we have really healed into our new form, we can begin to look forward again and start visioning the future.  But this will be a very different future than the one we had in mind when we started the journey. And we mustn’t leave our joy behind.

In all of these steps, there are a variety of healing methods to help us through. I particularly recommend the use of imagery, or what I call Imagework, to learn to listen to ourselves better and to find the images that will heal us and bring us through to our new lives.

Jeff, a counseling manager who burnt out, put it this way: “The burnout is the recovery. It’s like a friend who’s actually been on your side through it all -- totally on your side, truly on your side -- and out of love takes you so that you literally lie flat on your back.  It’s trying to rest you into yourself, put you into your centre and into who you really are and drench you with love.”

And the joy?  

Unlike happiness or contentment, which are about being satisfied with our life situation, joy emerges in the spaces rather than in the content of our lives. It cannot happen when we are invested in things turning out a particular way so that we will be of value.  It is to do with the love of life itself.  Burnout, by emptying our life of so much of what we thought gave us value, clears the way for joy. 


Intrigued? Read the book? Do the exercises? Take a course?

To find out more, do read The Joy of Burnout available on Amazon make sure to do the imagery exercises in the book. They do really work! You can also download MP3s to be guided through a variety of exercises to take you through to a new beginning.

Dina Glouberman’s course this summer at the Skyros Centre, (19 August to 1 September) is ideal for anyone who feels burnt out, stressed, exhausted, or stuck—or is simply yearning for a new beginning.  

Week One: The Joy of Burnout.

Week Two: New Beginnings.

It is possible to do one week only.

Read all about it here >>>


Dina Glouberman, Ph.d, is the author of Life Choices, Life Changes (Skyros Books), The Joy of Burnout (Skyros Books) and You are What You Imagine (Watkins Publishing), as well as her upcoming book Into the Woods and Out Again. She is also the co-founder/director since 1979 of Skyros Holistic Holidays worldwide, and an international lecturer, trainer, coach, and therapist. She can be contacted at


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