Take a step back to make a (huge) step forward

Bijgewerkt: 4 dec 2019

As a daughter of a mother who has dealt with a burn-out, I experienced at a close distance how radical it can be when someone’s light fades away. I see the type of person my mother is, and I recognize it a lot in my environment. Enormous strong people who live to help others, crush goals and overcome obstacles, but also highly sensitive. My mother’s words: "highly sensitive for ambiance, harmony and love."

Giving 200%

For my mother, living to help others, has always been strongly present. As a primary school teacher she is constantly taking care of her children in class and helping them with finding an answer to the question "who am I?". Spending hundred percent of her energy on them and spending another hundred percent on my sister and I. I was very young when my mother got into her burn-out, the only thing I remember was my happiness because I loved her being home all the time.

After one year of recovery my mother began working again. Together with the necessary tools to help her not fall back. Something she experienced to be helpful was to literally sit back, take a break and just breath.

Ten years later

Ten years later, I became an adult and my mother is still working in education. When I became older I began to understand what "burned out" meant and how complex it is (at least, I began to try to understand). My mother's caring underwent a little turn and I partly started taking care of her. With my clear vision I started to see what did and didn’t do her well, and little by little I started to see her falling into old habits. She slowly started to lose herself again in taking care of others instead of herself.

Can you imagine how proud I was when she told me she wanted to quit her job?! I started thinking in contrast: how for some people a high educated job or promotion can be good, for some people taking a step back and finding something meaningful and maybe simple can be the best outcome. She told me she wanted to start doing voluntary work at a caring farm, delivering mail or being a waitress. Jobs where she would enjoy what she’s doing and where she didn’t take her work back home. In our conversation she told me how it would be a leap in the dark (Dutch saying for making a huge, scary step), where I responded she was wrong, it would be more like a leap in the sky.

Allowing yourself to pause for a moment

This brought me to the idea that sometimes taking a step back is making a (huge) step forward. What works for someone doesn’t necessarily have to work for another. In our current society everyone seems to be focused on having, making and doing more. There seems to be an evident relationship between this mindset and burn-outs. The chance of getting a burn-out has risen a lot and what I hope to give to you with this little story is a moment of self-reflection. When was the last time you took a step back, just to give yourself some space and time? What do you need at this moment? This may be a sensitive tip because I know it can be hard with nowadays obligations, but try to take a day (or more) off. Take the whole day spending time on you. Listen to what you need, give yourself what you are craving for and do whatever feels good at that moment. Maybe it’s sleeping a few more hours, cleaning your house or going for a walk. Do whatever you need that day to take a step back and prevent yourself from overflowing. Start with protecting your boundaries in your daily life. Sometimes allowing yourself to pause for a moment, is the ultimate self-care.

A leap in the sky

As for my mother, she still hasn’t taken the step back (a.k.a. her leap in the sky). I’m still encouraging her to do it, but I know sometimes you can feel stuck in your current situation. Also what I found beautiful from my mother’s view is that she doesn’t want to make big decisions from emotional thoughts. She wants to quit during a happy period, where she leaves her job with a sweet goodbye and nice memories. I still hope to give her the motivation and energy to keep on looking, to stay curious and (most important) to take more time for herself. Sometimes it has to be someone who loves you to tell you this, but remember this can also be yourself.

This blog is written by Saartje Nibbering, a philosophy student, certified yoga teacher and blogger for Take Care of Your Selfie.

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