deborah wellsIf despite a lifetime of diligence and hard work, you feel you are still searching for something that remains just beyond your grasp, then you, my friend, may be stuck in the hamster wheel approach to life. Hamster wheel people don’t give up; they will die trying to deliver the goods.

You may think you want a better job, more satisfying relationship or healthier body. In reality, your restlessness isn’t about your income, your relationships or your looks. It’s about feeling incomplete.

Even the most committed and productive individuals can shift from frustration to a sense of futility when their values, passion, work and lives become disconnected. One of the problems with not taking care of our health is that the effects of ignoring it are often slow to show up. We continue to juggle family responsibilities, work and finances until we lose ourselves, waking up one day 50 pounds heavier in body and soul—no good to ourselves or anyone else.

If that pattern sounds painfully familiar, I have good news for you. There is hope for escaping the self-imposed prison of the hamster wheel, ending your pattern of burnout and learning to live a life you love. It all starts with embracing the amazing and liberating possibility that the love of your life just might be you.

My first big realization on the road to recovery was that my utter and complete burnout was clear evidence that I had not been loving myself. I was not nurturing, encouraging or motivating myself in healthy ways physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. I was disrespecting my body, mind, feelings, and values. Working myself nearly to death with no regard for illness or despair. If I had treated another being that way, human or feline, I would have been jailed long ago.

When I became serious about uncovering the roots of my imbalance and trying to set it right, I concluded that there are two fundamental types of core energy: love and fear. When I examined the primary energy underneath any thought, feeling, word, or deed, I found love, fear, or some combination of the two.

Love is constructive and moves you forward. Fear is destructive and holds you back. Love is the author of truth and reality. Fear is the author of lies and illusion.

At first, I didn’t always recognize them as love or fear because they didn’t always show up in my life with those specific labels. I found the terms to be nebulous, tricky, and easy to misunderstand. With awareness, persistence, and unflinching honesty, over time I was able to recognize love and fear masquerading under lots of other masks.

In trying to get a more concrete grasp on what healthy self-love might look like, I realized I understood its opposite, fear, much better because I had fueled myself with it for so long. With mindfulness and curiosity, I recognized that the many faces of fear could be synthesized into a four-part pattern that captured the most common guises in which fear showed up in my relationship with myself—contempt, judging, shame, and lack. I then employed one of my favorite writing technologies, the Microsoft Word thesaurus function, to find their opposites—respect, curiosity, compassion and gratitude. With the help of the insight and clarity provided by those particular attributes of love, the light dawned, and I began to make real progress.

Once I understood the impact of fueling myself with love rather than fear, I finally realized there is a vast difference between perfectionism and excellence. Perfectionism is not a lofty goal or enviable trait. Perfectionism is a fear-based illusion riddled with lies and characterized by force. Excellence is a love-based reality characterized by flow and grounded in the truth of who I am and Whose I am: a unique, cocreative expression of the divine. The highest good—faith, hope, prosperity, peace and joy—is not served by using force. The highest good is revealed and advanced through love, respect, curiosity, compassion and gratitude.

Read part 2 of this article for additional insights into the role of love in recovering from burnout.

© Copyright 2013 DJW Life Coach LLC. All rights reserved.

About the Author

What’s love got to do with minimizing stress and getting unstuck? Everything, according to empowerment coach and inspirational speaker Deborah Jane Wells, author of Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life! During her 30 years as an organization transformation consultant, Deborah served as a senior partner in four of the world’s largest, most prestigious global professional services firms. In 2005, she took a five-year sabbatical to find healing and peace because non-stop work had taken its toll. Her recovery from burnout, including a sustained 80-pound weight loss and freedom from 10 years of debilitating depression, led to finding her purpose guiding others on their journeys. Through healing and self-exploration, she discovered that loving yourself unconditionally is the key to transforming your personal life, your work, and the world. Deborah’s books, blog, radio show, and signature coaching programs help individuals and organizations harness that same transformative power of love to turn unexplored possibilities into fulfilling realities and step into their greatness. Learn more at Deborah Wells Website.