Top positive review
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Medically specific, heartwarmingly real
on December 28, 2010
In short, no author I know blends medical information with empathy and warmth as well as Joan Borysenko. This book is extremely precise, concrete and educational -- and at the same time, so wonderfully, embracingly empathic.
Borysenko approaches burnout from a physician's point of view. "Burnout and stress are different. Burnout is not stress, nor is it caused by stress." This is a guide to recognizing the symptoms of burnout, which is a distinct psychological and physical condition. This is why we need a Harvard trained medical scientist, psychologist, and director of a spiritual mentor training program to show us what it is, and how to step out of it.
Borysenko takes the various signs of burnout off the pedestal of "necessary losses." Yes, our world is overwhelming, but this specific condition doesn't just come with daily life. "Unless you've experienced burnout personally, you may not fully comprehend how serious this state of emotional exhaustion and loss of motivation can be, and how crucial it is to meet its challenge before you collapse into depression, addiction, or physical illness."
It's very moving to read passages like: "Not only can I no longer make toast, I *am* toast... I have nothing left to give and very little interest in receiving. I just want to be left alone" (xx). Who among us hasn't been there?
The questions this book addresses:
-- Are burnout and depression the same thing, or different?
-- In what ways do adverse experiences lead to learned helplessness that increases your chances of burnout?
-- How can you learn to manage your energy and find a dynamic state of balance?
-- How do you find your passion?
-- How do you mobilize courage?
-- What is it about living in the Now that is so enlivening?
Borysenko outlines 12 stages of burnout (how wonderful that they are so specific):
* Driven by an ideal
* Working like a maniac
* Putting your own needs last
* Miserable, and clueless as to why
* The death of values
* Frustrated, aggressive, and cynical
... and there are 6 more.
The most delightful aspect of the book is the inclusion of ideas from Borysenko's Facebook friends. I, being one of them, can attest that we had many conversations on the subject of burnout. She would post a status update, one of her longish but ever so readable, warm, embracing, and inspiring missives. Within the hour, it would get easily 150 comments. Many of these comments I noted and drew inspiration from. Thank you, Joan, for being a light in so many ways -- online, on paper, and in my heart.