Friday, March 14, 2008

Elijah's Cave...

Dr. Randy Kunkel has put together some good work on burnout. He identifies 5 stages:

At this stage our body becomes an obstacle and starts getting in our way. We have small aches, pains and illness that holds on and just doesn’t go away. We might notice fatigue that is difficult to shake and feeling drained and tired regularly. There is a tendency towards overindulgence at this phase. It could be overindulgence in food, alcohol, smoking, sleep, or work.

At this stage we begin having trouble sustaining relationships. We lose our temper over small things and become irritable and harsh with others. We have a tendency to isolate ourselves from others, especially people we find draining. We become difficult for others to be around also. Because we find relationships draining, we begin to postpone important interactions, both at home and work, and make no time to be with others socially. You might have issues with people that need to be dealt with, but because they feel draining, you don’t confront them directly.

At his stage, we begin to get a sense of overload and overwhelm and we’ll avoid thinking activities. Because of that, we begin to miss deadlines and find it difficult to concentrate for any period of time. We jump from one thing to another and have trouble keeping our attention on one thing long enough to finish it. We turntowards passive activities that don’t require any participation on our part. In essence, we become a spectator to life. We may find ourselves watching TV, even though we’re not interested in or enjoying a show – just because it is easy. We may fall into a pattern called “watchism” where we’re always looking ahead (to the end of the day, to the weekend, to vacations, to retirement) just hoping things will get better and never being fully present to life.

At this stage our emotions go to a low point where we start experiencing what feels like paranoia and total overwhelm. Nothing sounds interesting.We feel alienated from people and tasks and will even avoid those people we’ve enjoyed in the past, thus deepening the feelings of isolation. We may seek to be alone a lot of the time and fight off a feeling of constant boredom. (It’s almost like going into a cave to hibernate.) We might even turn to alcohol and drugs. We get into a victim mentality where it seems as if all we do is meet other’s needs at our own expense. Everybody wants a piece of the action and we’re the action would be a perfect description of what this feels like. This also leads to resentment of others, feeling taken advantage of.

At this stage it feels as if we have a broken spirit. Other people’s needs pose a threat for us, so we stop investing in others and make no efforts towards relationships. Someone new starts working in the office and you don’t bother to get to know them at all. Your child has a problem with their teacher that should be addressed, but that gets ignored. We even begin to doubt what is important to us, like our values and beliefs,leading to a hopeless, helpless feeling. Things that used to be very important to us before just seem less important. It’s like, “Why bother, anyway? No one else seems to care, so why should you?” At this point we begin feeling so miserable that we must make a change.

1 Kings 19
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain…for I am about to pass by." And there came wind, earthquake and fire…but the Lord was not in any of those things.

Then, finally, there came a gentle whisper, the Lord's "still, small voice," and He said: "Go back the way you came...and serve Me again."

And Elijah did.


Post a Comment

<< Home