Political Burnout

Are you tired of hearing about the president?  It doesn’t matter whether you are a supporter or a detractor, are you tired of all of it?  If you’re a supporter, the political opposition is trying to take the president down.  If you’re a not a fan, you can’t believe that he’s gotten away with so much, and it continues.  In the end, you feel like nothing that the people like you and me are doing is making a difference to the people, the system, or the outcomes – and it has us burned out.

Politicians and Political Pundits

The job of the politicians and political pundits seems to be to speak louder than their opponents, ignore what they’ve said, and speak their own rhetoric again.  This behavior seems to happen repeatedly on news channels and media of all sorts.  Neither side concedes the other’s point, and the result is the kind of incoherent noise that you find in a social gathering without any sort of unifying performance.

It’s no wonder that people need a break from this noise.  Even people who are directly in the political circles are unable to persuade people towards reason.  How is it possible for a citizen to make a difference?

Take a Timeout

If you’re getting frustrated by the lack of civility and respect necessary to listen to the opposing side, then perhaps the best response is a temporary timeout.  There’s time before the next election.  You can choose to stop listening to the political rhetoric and plan to pay attention again in enough time to be well informed for the next election.

Citizen Society

The power of the people resides in the capacity for each of us to change the course of the political discourse by choosing the actors in the discussion.  While we do not, ourselves, get to walk that stage, our ability to persuade our fellow citizens about who should best represent us, and our own vote do decide who gets to represent us.

While the process is very slow, there is a great deal of power wielded by the citizens of a community in their ability to choose their representatives.  While we can be frustrated by the course of the conversation, we are not powerless.  In fact, simple steps like changing the channels we listen to influence politicians greatly.

Change the Channel

While the politicians are set in their roles until the remainder of their term, the political pundits retain their throne by being relevant.  When people stop watching, pundits lose their power.  If you don’t believe a pundit is adding value to a conversation, stop watching or reading.  Change the channel or don’t read from websites that aren’t moving the conversation forward.  That is not to say that you shouldn’t read the opposing viewpoint, you most certainly should.  However, if you find there’s a source that’s unable to articulate both sides of the story with equal clarity, perhaps it’s time to stop using that source.

Change the Community

If you can change the channel, you can change the community.  By building bridges of understanding and working with others to improve understanding of the issues – and your perspectives – you can change the world, or at least your little corner of it, and that may be enough.

Dating Burnout

It’s another site.  Another swipe.  Another chat.  Another date.  Still nothing.  No spark, no chemistry, and no connection.  It leads to the ominous question, “What’s the point of it all?” and the threatening proclamation, “Maybe I’m just meant to be alone.”  There it is.  That one statement that lands you right in the lap of dating burnout.  Here’s what you can do about it.

Relationships are Work

Some believe, like the World Health Organization (WHO), that burnout is a work thing.  The WHO calls it an “occupational phenomenon.”  However, the exhaustion, cynicism, and feelings of inefficacy they use to describe burnout can impact any area of someone’s life, including dating.  The core of the burnout problem is that sense of inefficacy.  It’s the belief that nothing you’re doing matters, and you’ll never reach your goal.

After a breakup, it’s easy to feel ineffective.  They were supposed to be Mr. or Mrs. Right, but they weren’t.  The larger the time investment, the harder it is to believe you’ll have to start over.  Once you’ve started over, it’s hard to believe that it’s so hard to find that next person.  Maybe you message them and get no response, or you move to the first date, and you just don’t hit it off.  It’s easy to wonder when you’ll finally find someone – or if you will.

Relationships and Estimating Problems

The problem of trying to predict when you’ll find Mr. or Mrs. Right is that it is a difficult estimating problem.  Though we don’t think about it like that, we estimate when we’ll find Mr. or Mrs. Right based on the likelihood they’ll cross our path.  The problem with this idea is that we have no more idea when we’ll find the right person than we know how to pick a winning bingo card.  That is, the timing of the solution is unknowable.

One way to change the probability of winning a game of bingo is to increase the number of bingo cards.  The second way is to learn how to ensure you make every card count.

Counting Cards

If you’re committed to playing multiple bingo cards in a place where the numbers are read out fast and furious, you’re going to have to get good at marking.  You’ll need to be able to get clear on what numbers you do and don’t have and get ready for the next.  In a dating context, this means getting clearer about who you are and what you want.  The clearer you are, the faster you’ll get at sorting people into or out of the possible pile.

Working on yourself and figuring out who you are is probably the best way to attract the future Mr. or Mrs. Right to you.

Increasing the Odds

If you get burned out and decide that nothing you’re doing will ever work, you’ll stop doing anything – and that will limit your chances.  Sure, it could be the cable person, the UPS delivery driver, or the plumber who is Mr. or Mrs. Right, but it’s more likely they aren’t.  You’ll need to get out there and get more chances to find the right person.

It could mean more time on dating sites – but it might be spending more time in meetup groups, where you get together to enjoy time and don’t worry about the dating thing.  The more friends you find – particularly with diverse social circles – the more likely you’ll be to get introduced to someone who you can connect with.

Being Okay

It’s okay to not be in a relationship, no matter what the romantic comedies say.  It’s okay to be who you are without someone else until that someone else finally shows up.  You beat relationship burnout by refusing to accept that what you’re doing is pointless or hopeless, and instead insist that the right person will come your way at the right time.

How Self-Talk Leads to Burnout

We all talk to ourselves, at least inside our heads.  What we tell ourselves can help us recognize our accomplishments or cause us to believe we will never be good enough.  Negative self-talk can alter our perspective about our results and value and accelerate our journey down the path towards burnout.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is typically described as a combination of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy.  Of these three, inefficacy is the causative factor leading to burnout.  We frequently use the bathtub model to describe burnout.  The bathtub is our personal agency, or ability to get things done.  Self-care, support, and results all increase our personal agency, while demands drain our personal agency.  We know that self-care, support, results, and demands all have valves that we control.  We can increase our self-care, support, and recognition of results, and we can decrease or limit our demands to maintain our personal agency and prevent burnout.  As we listen to the voice in our head, our ability to maintain our personal agency is impacted by recognizing our results, increasing self-care, and providing support for yourself.

What Do We Say to Ourselves?

Have you ever really thought about the things you say to yourself?  How often do you tell yourself what a great job you did or what a great friend you are?  Too frequently, we remind ourselves about the things we do not feel like we are accomplishing or doing well enough.  It is important to note that the voices in our heads are telling us how we feel about what we are doing.  How we feel about what we are doing may have little to do with reality and much more to do with how we view ourselves.

In my world, I frequently tell myself I am not a good enough wife.  I believe my husband listens to me better than I listen to him, goes out of his way to help me be successful, and, in general, is great support.  If you were to ask my husband, even if I am not present, he will tell you I am a wonderful and supportive wife.  In this case, who is correct?  The truth is he gets to decide if I am a good wife to him.  The voices in my head are not consistent with reality, are not helpful, and are not truth.  The voices cause me to feel bad about myself and believe I am not good enough.


We talk about the importance of self-care in preventing or recovering from burnout.  Listening to the voices in our head without evaluating them for truth results in self-harm.  The things we say to ourselves we would likely never say to another human being or even our pets.  Yet, daily, we tell ourselves that we are a failure or stupid.  We must change the way we talk to ourselves to build the resiliency we need to avoid burnout.

Change the Story

We hear the stories we tell ourselves, but we do not have to believe them.  We can even change them altogether.  Learning to hear the stories, evaluate them for truth, and change them to provide self-support and self-care is key to preventing burnout.  We cannot accept our self or our positive results when we consistently minimize them, saying anyone could do that, or it wasn’t that great.  Recognize the amazing things or even the good things you do and choices you make.  Maybe you are trying to eat healthier; you have one piece of candy but not the typical two or three.  Instead of telling yourself you are such a loser and can’t even resist a single piece of candy, you can compliment yourself on being able to limit yourself to a single piece.

The more we validate the stories we tell ourselves and use self-compassion, the easier it becomes to recognize the results we are getting, increase our personal agency, and stay off the path to burnout.

Parental Burnout

The hardest part about being a parent is accepting that your children won’t do what you want them to do.  Someday they’ll get old enough and out of your sight for long enough that they’ll do what they want to do – whether it’s something you agree with or not.  When you believe that you should have “raised them better” or you decide to ask yourself “where did I go wrong?”, you may be at the edge of burnout.

Defining Burnout

Burnout has most frequently described as exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy.  Every parent has experienced exhaustion at some point during their child’s life.  Whether it’s the first few months of interrupted sleep or running them from event to event, I’ve never met a parent who can’t identify with exhaustion.  While most parents don’t admit to being cynical, too many can share their frustration and despondence with their feelings of inefficacy.

There may not be a manual for parenting, but there certainly are many who feel like their experience is the experience by which all parenting should be measured.  It’s easy to try to measure up on every front against every parent we meet and feel like we’re completely ineffective at being a parent as a result.

But We’re Legally Responsible

Of course, there are legal responsibilities to consider until a child legally becomes an adult, but that doesn’t mean that the parents of the Columbine massacre were put on trial for the actions of their children.  As tragic as the incident was, the law didn’t hold the parents ultimately responsible for the outcomes.

In most cases, the kinds of irresponsible behavior on the part of a child doesn’t rise to life or death consequences.  It’s mostly related to the choices they make in their friends, the degree of seriousness they take for their academic studies, and the perseverance they demonstrate in their extracurricular activities.

Moving from Responsible to Responsive

You can’t be held responsible for something you can’t control.  Let that sink in for a moment.  If you can’t control it, then you can’t be held responsible.  Once children begin interacting with the world, you can’t control their actions.  The result is that, while we guide their actions and believe a combination of genetics and environment accounts for their ultimate makeup and behaviors, we still don’t have control. 

Burnout is about feeling ineffective, and if you believe you have control of someone, but you don’t, you’re bound to end up feeling disappointed and ineffective.  If you insist on a belief that isn’t or can’t be true, eventually, it will catch up with you, and you’ll have to give up the belief – or you’ll accept that you’re ineffective.

It’s entirely possible to remain convinced that you can control your children – and you’ll inevitably feel ineffective at times, and that may lead to burnout.  Conversely, if you accept that you don’t have control of your children, and you are responsive to them rather than responsible for them, you’ll find yourself free from the burdens and the risk of burnout. 

Concern without Control

As parents of seven children, we can say the hardest thing to do is to be concerned without an attempt to control the situation.  Whether it’s protecting them from the schoolyard bully or moving them to college, there’s a desire to keep them safe as well as shape their behaviors.  However, letting go of the need to control them may be the most freeing thing that we’ve ever learned.