personal development burnout

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Over-Functioning And Personal Development Burnout

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the list of things you’re supposed to do in order to be a healthy, fulfilled person? It’s like you have to transform, change, and fully heal before you have permission to be at peace with yourself!

And although coping strategies or wellness routines provide a road map to living a more mindful existence, if you’re anything like me, it becomes the perfect storm of over-functioning and personal development burnout.

Let me paint the picture for you…

It’s the end of a horrible season of struggling. You’ve experienced one of those amazing breakthroughs in life when you finally feel like things are getting better. Anyone would be impressed by your bedtime routine supported by a lengthy list of grounding techniques.

But suddenly it’s been a few months and you’ve reached a plateau. Not only do you feel stagnant, but you feel like your mind is just as busy as it EVER was, but now it’s constantly focused on how to IMPROVE yourself.

You feel burnt out. Unmotivated. And ready to just call it quits on the journey of self-discovery to pursue a life of binge watching Netflix and doing whatever the hell you want.

I call this…. Personal Development Burnout!

From what we know about over-functioning, it’s no surprise that over-functioning and personal development would have this result! But what IS burnout?

In my recent blog post about how to thrive in your first year out of college, I listed the phases of burnout from a renowned study on human behavior:


Sound familiar? For many of us, this cycle exists outside of our jobs to pervade almost everything we do. This is especially true if you’re a perfectionist, Highly Sensitive Person, or if you’re codependent.

For Highly Sensitive People, we tend to struggle with finding a happy medium between two extremes. I think Dr. Elaine Aron said it best when discussing how HSPs can find a more balanced life:

The most spiritual thing might be to be less spiritual. the most insightful psychological stance might be to dwell less on our psychological insights. a call to wholeness rather than perfection might be the only way to get the message.”

So how do you end this cycle in regards to personal development?

I wish there was an easy answer! In short, I think the biggest step you can take is accepting that you can and SHOULD have peace, happiness, pleasure, and joy even while you’re broken, hurting, acting out, and just a straight up WORK IN PROGRESS!

Because in reality, you will always be a work in progress for your entire life. Personal development books and honest growth just give us a false sense of control that we have reached the ultimate version of ourselves. We believe we have to become a more whole person before we deserves happiness and once we’ve dealt with our baggage.

But what if you allowed yourself to feel light and free even while still working through how to unload your baggage? What if you didn’t wait until you worked through all of your inner demons until you allowed ourselves to reap the benefits of being a whole person?

I know… I know.. I’m starting to sound cheesy.

But what personal development can easily turn into is a lack of self-acceptance!

And self-acceptance isn’t writing a list of things you love about yourself. It’s learning to offer understanding and love to the parts of yourself that are broken and not-so-pretty. It’s taking a trip to past traumas and literally telling your past self, “I understand why you behaved that way. You were hurting so much, so it’s not a surprise that you turned to whatever you could to cope.”

Self-acceptance is like offering comfort to a hurt child. As most of us know, hurt children lash out. They turn to survival mode to get what they want even if it means hurting themselves or others. But do you neglect or harm that child when you know they’re just not at their best? NO! You offer the child comfort, you change their environment, you set boundaries. And you realize that when they are hurt or in danger, they need care not more hurt!

Care for us adults might means: safety, comfort, pleasure, fun, self-restraint, human connection, empathy, discipline, forgiveness, grace…

Are you willing to offer your darkest parts care in the pursuit of self-acceptance instead of a constant strain for bettering yourself?


Do you have a way that you fight personal development burnout? I’d love to hear more! Let’s connect on Instagram and send me a DM!
Looking for something beyond your own abilities? Dive into sermons filled with hope by checking out Lower Manhattan Community Church.

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