Burnout and Shame: Inextricably Linked
If you are suffering from 'burnout', there is often enormous shame about yourself and about the situation you have found yourself in. You used to be able to do everything and now you can't control it anymore. You are out of control and that is weak. Let's discuss the connection between shame and burnout below.
Take Wilma. She wanted to be perfect in everything and therefore demanded a lot from herself. When that failed, she spoke of the "shame of failure." There are a lot of women like Wilma. They want to make a career, be a perfect wife and a good mother, present themselves as an ideal girlfriend and an excellent housewife, be slim, eat healthily, exercise a lot, have a perfect, ideal appearance, and so on.
Or Jan. He had achieved a lot and felt very successful in life until he collapsed. "I'm ashamed because I'm losing my prestige," he said. Jan has always worked hard, held a high position, and earned a lot of money. Everything went well until he got burned out.
Shame often leads to avoidance behavior towards others, leading to incomprehension and loneliness. It is not openly discussed how things are going and what is going on inside. The other trusts those beautiful words and cannot see whether the truth is being spoken from the outside. Shame makes honesty and openness to others very difficult. You even send wrong signals to your environment and hinder your recovery.
Shame arises from one's own deep-seated beliefs and expectations towards others. Someone with burnout has set unrealistic expectations and demands on themselves. Shame occurs when you feel that certain attitudes or behaviors are not acceptable to others. You will make even more demands on yourself.
Facts about burnout and shame
• Shame is an unpleasant psychosocial emotion, arising out of fear of disparaging others or of not belonging. In other words: fear of disapproval or rejection from the other.
• Shame is caused by personal views and expectations. In other words: an attempt is made to meet expectations that you think the other has of you.
You put yourself second and others first. So you ignore your needs.
• Shame is part of a burnout situation, because it is linked to the fact that you set high standards for yourself: perfectionism and hard work. These are personality traits of people with a burnout.
• Shame is also a strongly culturally determined phenomenon. The above requirements are requirements that are highly valued and encouraged in our culture.
Sense of shame
In short: burnout and feelings of shame belong together. They are in line with each other and linked to their imposed expectations. In the event of burnout, it helps if you look at where your shame comes from and what you do not find acceptable about yourself.
About the author
Based in Odesa, Ukraine, Anastasiia Shtankova is a trilingual (English, Russian, Ukrainian) graduate of the Sukhomlinsky Mykolayiv National University. For as long as she can remember, Nastya has had a passion for writing. As the content manager for Finance4Learning, she manages to combine business with the pleasure of writing. She is responsible for generating, curating and marketing content relevant to the company’s target audiences.
Finance4Learning is a Benelux-based provider of student finance helping individuals realise ambitions and educators drive sales. Finance4Learning typically finances students following upskilling or reskilling courses in e.g. Business Analytics, CyberSecurity, Data Science, Digital Marketing, Growth Hacking, Leadership, UX/UI Design and Web Development. Courses are often provided in a bootcamp format. Finance4Learning is backed by two very reputable organisations - Banco Santander (no. 4 in the world) and the European Investment Fund - and provides access to a €50 million learning & development fund on an exclusive basis.