Way back after high school when I thought I knew what I was doing and chose to be a physical therapist I was so excited about my life, my potential, and the opportunities before me that you’d think I’d won the lottery of “excellent career choice.” And I felt that way, for decades, until I burned myself out.
“I love what I do!” I’d boast to whoever would listen. I help people feel better, help them heal. I help them fix their physical issues and live a better life. My gratitude was flowing daily and that part of what I do hasn’t ever stopped. It’s the energy that changed.
Many of us who picked a healthcare field as a career feel this way. And why would anyone pick a career they don’t absolutely love? I suppose parental and societal pressures to do something that brings success and money might be the easiest answer. I hope that changes soon, to the pressures of choosing what you love, but even then, what if you begin to burn out, even when you love what you do?
What you do isn’t who you are.
Let’s just read that a few times and really chew on it, because it’s why you’ll burn out, even if you do something you love to do for a living. Who am I? That might be the one question to solve all our problems in what we do in the world, why we do it, how we do it, and with what kind of energy and passion we do it with. Anyone seen KungFu Panda 3 yet? It’s the whole mission of The Dragon Warrior’s path; to figure out who he really is.
Way back in my career, in the middle of one of my continuing education classes, the instructor got up and said this to the class: “What you do is not who you are.” I thought I got it back then, but it took me decades to really feel that in my bones and soul. What I choose to do (the outward expression of myself and my gifts) isn’t who I am, unless I align the energy of who I am with the outward expression.
The energy of who I am; the way I feel and express in the world might be the closest way to get to the real me.
So when I identified with being a healer, a fixer, a physical therapist – I was creating who I was by measuring it against my abilities inside of this role I chose. I was not thinking about the energy with which I expressed myself through that role. I was interested in perfection, excellence, success and abundance…and thought I’d get it by being that thing. I was wrong. I would get it by being me, all fanatical five foot, three inches of her.
Decades of measuring myself against an impossible goal of perfection made me feel tight, small, and not enough. I burned out doing the thing I loved because I wasn’t being me inside of it. I wasn’t doing it my way, or being the powerful, daring healer I am.
If you love what you do with a passion and are burning out, take a look at the energy with which you express yourself with your clients. When do you feel resistance? Are you able to speak up and express yourself when there are conflicts, disagreements, or misunderstandings? When do you feel you’re doing your job in a way that doesn’t jive with who you are? Why are you doing it that way? What thoughts, beliefs and behaviors have you perfected, but not realized are old or out-dated?
Whenever you operate out of alignment with your true energy or essence, you will start to deplete yourself. And sooner or later, you’ll feel it because you’ll be running on reserves instead of overflow. It might start with fatigue, or general lack of interest. It could feel like depression. You could even start to physically break down. And in the background of your mind you’ll hear, “But I love what I do! What is going on!”
What’s going on is you’ve betrayed your true self by doing what you love in a way that’s compromised that pure, passionate, crazy, unfiltered energy that wants to bust through. You’re doing it in a way you’ve been told and taught, not your way. It’s time to recognize your true energy, and unleash her or him on the world. And that will be the way you’ll feel successful and abundant.
In the beginning I was afraid my business would fail if I did things in a way that really turned me on; talking to my clients about awareness, journaling, joy…I figured they’d wonder what kind of “physical therapy” that was. Soon I realized I was the exact kind of healer they were looking for; fun, caring, conscious and out of the box of the Western medical system that was pushing drugs, surgery and otherwise anti-holistic means to solve their problems.
Being me was what they needed.
All they wanted and needed was for me to be the real, generous, passionate, me. And that might have been the biggest deep breath I’ve ever taken in my entire life. Just be me. That’s all I need to do.
As soon as I stepped into that power magical shit started to happen. The on-pupose, positive energy that I finally allowed myself to express began to manifest in ways I’d only dreamed about before, like opportunities to share my writing and poetry with the world and spread the love way wider than ever.
Boxing myself in to the identity of “healer” that I was taught made me feel like I had been put in jail. Busting out of that jail was easy, once I realized that I could make my own rules and definition of healer. I was able to redefine healing in a way that served the big, badass energy that wanted to come through!
Are you feeling a bit burned out? Constrained? Feeling a little tight inside of that job you picked so long ago? It might be time to step back and take a look at who you are. And let that energy run the show for a while. Being you is what will heal the world.
Join me in the comments and let me know how you’d like to reclaim that energy. What pieces of your soul are ready to be expressed? Are you afraid? Why? Grab my hand and let’s do this shining thing together!
Laura Probert, MPT is a holistic physical therapist, published author, inspirational teacher, poet, and black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She’ll help you heal the stuff that gets in the way of you writing, creating and running your life and business like the warrior goddess you are. She’s serious about integrating mind, body and soul as a journey to passion and power and it’s her mission to show you how. You can find her writing featured in places like The Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, Best Self Magazine, The Wellness Universe, Wild Sister Magazine, PersonalGrowth.com, Tiny Buddha and The Elephant Journal. Find her books and programs at www.LauraProbert.com and www.facebook.com/kickasswarriorgoddess