When an employee first realizes that something crucial is happening with their well-being, it is never an easy way to get out of it. Some prefer to deny the very fact of the problem – and it’s not the worst option, because sometimes it works. Many upsets left to their own do fade away. But some other actions being plunged can make the situation worse.
As a typical burnout candidate is energetic, charismatic, impatient accomplisher, when a lull occurs, an employee is driven to take action as intense as they are used to. The risk is high that an employee will select the False Cures which will only intensify the syndrome, spreading it faster and further.
Conflict and the process of growing at work usually force an employee to find the compromise in varying degrees until they hit upon a satisfactory middle ground. Those incapable of compromise can become “other-directed”. First, a person “separates” from one’s self, then loses the touch of the feelings and, as a result, loses a sense of one’s self-worth. Other-directedness is common in large organizations.
When an employee at work questions who they are and what they are capable of, they stop trusting themselves and start looking for any approval from outside, from bosses, colleagues and other staff. The choices and accomplishments become elusive and so pleasing someone else rather themselves slowly pushes a person to burnout.
When work starts to disappoint an employee, looking for greater achievement and working more and more become the testing decision for a cause. Power, status and money become the sources of exhilaration. An employee is looking for constant excitement for genuine fulfilment. There is nothing wrong with that – work and accomplishment are giving the sense of excitement that can renew the energy – but only as long as work remains proportionate to the other areas of lives. Otherwise, it becomes the False Cure.
If a candidate is striving to feel good and does not know exactly what to do, they risk trying everything to find relief. And, actually, overdoing everything, as it may seem a quest for a solution. Not only excessive work but also overdrinking, overeating, overgambling and any form of overdoing something become the False Cures. With dedication and commitment, a candidate becomes their own source of the growing burnout just overdoing everything.
To fight burnout, an employee may start to stimulate themselves by unpredictable actions. Changing work or the manager, even changing career are not the real cures, but a reflection. Spontaneous actions can be all for the wrong reasons. In a crisis moment, taking a vacation for a week, month or even for a day can be a much better idea. Only using time and having a break in routine will help to avoid the burnout.
When longing for a new opportunity at work, better salary and new perspectives, which just fail to materialize, an employee starts looking for an improvement. And somewhere along the way, they can get diverted from the original purpose, either because there is no fast fix or it requires too much effort. Being not honest with oneself in a moment of crisis can only exaggerate the symptom. To reach the goal, patience and honesty should be the driving force, not escaping from reality.
False Cures are killers for any employee – and they are much easier to stop before they begin. Enjoying life, having a free day or two, having a good conversation with a colleague or boss or a relative can be the way to turn to the Real Cure.
Based on the book BURN-OUT, The high cost of high achievement. Dr. Herbert J. Freudenberger