No matter how much I love doing yoga, meditation, and self care, I eventually end up slipping back into what I call “productive procrastination.” Because when I feel overwhelmed, stressed, and imbalanced, my instinct is to do more stuff without looking inward to the root cause of the issue. And this always leads me to burnout.
It usually starts out with me reading the Washington Post and the New York Times several times a day. I tell myself: It’s okay, I’m just catching up on the news.
Then I notice that I’m looking at the calendar and planning out trips on google flights and calculating frequent flyer miles and trying to figure out how to get deals and upgrades. I tell myself: It’s okay, I’m saving money by planning out my trips in advance.
Then I start taking on more responsibilities at work, planning out things that the kids “need” (and in retrospect, they never “need” them), and shopping for home decor and organizational products online so I can refresh some room in my home. I tell myself: It’s okay, no one else wants to do this so I will.
I justify this “productivity” because it will earn me praise (“You’re so caught up on current events!”), or I feel accomplished (“What a great deal you got on that family vacation!”), or I feel needed (“You’re such an amazing worker/ mom/ wife!”).
But what I have discovered after decades of this pattern, is that this addiction to “productive procrastination” always leads to not sleeping well, getting sick, and eventually burnout. I am addicted to distracting myself from uncomfortable emotions. I am addicted to distancing myself from my negative reel telling me that I’m not enough. And my coping mechanism is to find external validation because I am just too damn tired to do the hard inner work to make me feel balanced again.
My auto-pilot mode is to be high achieving. When I am the most out of balance, I get a lot of shit done. I’m getting praised while I’m feeling confused, lost, and stuck. This is why I feel like my problems aren’t real problems and when I'm feeling imbalanced when I am doing everything “right.”
It’s also frustrating because I have my tools and I catch myself going down this road to burnout, but it’s just easier to avoid the truth of the matter until my body gives out. Then I have a tangible excuse to take a few sick days from work and cancel all social engagements for a while. If I slow down without being sick or injured, I feel like I’ll be seen as being lazy. I feel like people won’t respect me. I feel like I’ll be worth less.
And this is when it takes all my energy to just show up for my yoga and meditation classes because I have dozens of excuses why I don’t have the time. This is when I have to force myself to go for a walk at lunch even though it’s too windy or I forgot my walking shoes. These are my tools to disrupt my over-productive inertia.
Once I can slow the inertia, this is when I can go back to Step 1 and recognize my negative reel. This is when I go back to Step 2 and get out my core values list to honestly evaluate if I’m making decisions based on my ego or my identity. And then I remind myself of Step 3 so I can align my decisions with my why. Leading me to Step 4 where I can discover creative solutions to turn off my auto-pilot and change directions.
I have to be honest, I hate doing the work. It’s hard. It’s annoying. I get no instant gratification. Living the cycle of burnout served me for most of my life and I have lots of accolades to show for it.
But is it sustainable? No, it’s become a toxic cycle for me. And although it’s really hard and I won’t get an award for living in alignment with my true self, it has to be enough for me to do this for me.
The ming+ming 11 steps guide my progress forward and give me a solid foundation to find my footing when my addictions and old habits sneak up on me again. The ming+ming classes help me to show up even when I don’t feel like I have time. The ming+ming community reminds me every week that I’m doing this for a reason and that I’m worth it.
I know this isn’t the last time I’ll be on the road to burnout. But at least I will have more practice and self worth to break the cycle quicker and easier than the last time. And I consider that a productive step forward.