Burnout was the beginning
If you’re new to this blog then let me explain how it came about. Naomi Light (the business not the person) is here because one day I asked myself the question: "What do you want to do with the rest of your life?" I would like to say that I discovered I wanted to be a coach, launched my business and here we are. But it wasn’t as easy as that. Here is the full story:
I was at possibly the closest I have come to rock bottom when the idea for a coaching business was born. We had moved into a big house with an annex and a big mortgage. My father-in-law lived with us while the annex was being renovated and a three-month stay turned into 15 months. Just before we moved, my husband’s business took a downturn and the bottom fell out of our financial world. Our debts were mounting and the pressure to finish the renovation was intense. At the same time, we were experiencing marriage problems. All this combined pushed me over the edge emotionally and I experienced burnout.
On the day that burnout hit I felt like I had been struck down by a wave of sadness and pain. Looking back the evidence had been there that I was slowly becoming disinterested in my life, but I didn't see it. As I lay on the floor sobbing helplessly I made some mental agreements that changed my life. It was horrific. I decided things had to change in our marriage. I decided that I would change. It was then I asked that question: “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?”
If you can change your mind you can change almost anything about yourself. Thoughts are like keys that can open doors of opportunity. A thought, although insignificant in itself, could open a great door of change.
The amazing thing about our minds is their ability to normalise everything. We are so brilliantly adaptable that we can function in adverse situations. However, that same brilliance works against us when our minds do not think to challenge the adversity. We continue with destructive patterns for many years because they appear normal in our minds. My mind had allowed a level of function in unhealthy levels of stress. My mind pushed my body to breaking point before I asked the appropriate questions about my and others’ behaviours.
It is a very simple matter to change our minds. Brain tissue has an incredible property of plasticity meaning that it is mouldable and changeable. Scientists call it neuroplasticity. It seems to me that the complex part is coming to the realisation that we want to change. The human psyche seems to be so resistant to change. Or is it just my psyche?
At that time the last thing I thought was happening was effective mental change. I thought I was losing my mind or my life was coming to an end. In the classic stereotype, I considered the merits of various kinds of suicide. I ran through the divorce proceedings that I felt were inevitable. Mercifully, I’m still here and, so far, still married.
During my recovery from burnout, I sought comfort in books written by other people who had experienced heartache. I read Option B by Cheryl Sandberg, several Brene Brown and Thrive by Adriana Huffington.
These women became my virtual mentors. Because I saw in them a strength that could pull you through your darkest days. If this strength existed it was what I needed.
Cheryl Sandberg records a conversation with her brother in law about missing her husband, who died of a heart attack; “ But I want Dave. I want option A.” He put his arm around me and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B”.
Adrianna Huffington spoke of her burnout experience like this:
In September 2017 I launched an Instagram feed and dared to dream of a real business.
As I write this post in January 2018 we are still in about 60K of debt and we are seeing some therapists to work on our marriage. But somehow I have never felt more sure of myself. If I am free to dream and have the courage to change my thinking, then I feel like I’m invincible. No, scrap that, I am invincible.
Viktor Frankl wrote of his darkest experiences in a Nazi concentration camp in this way:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
It was Frankl's 'darkest day' that was the beginning of an incredible new chapter. His holocaust experiences set him on a new path of understanding the human psyche. He founded a school of Psychotherapy and wrote about how meaning changes our experience of suffering.
So there you have it. My story in a nutshell. Thanks for reading to the end of the post.
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