I have been experiencing burnout lately. The combination of shipping out a huge volume of decks, plus the oppression of winter, plus the general exertion of Being a Human had all been piling up on me, Ten of Wands style. And I know it’s not just me. Pretty much everyone I’ve talked to lately is going through some degree of burnout!
So when I drew the Ten of Wands again today, it got me pondering what this card can teach us about burnout. Here are some of my thoughts.
Burnout is cumulative.
Sometimes burnout is caused by one major factor. But more often, it’s the result of many factors which might not seem like a big deal when you consider them individually. But when you’re dealing with them all at once, it’s too much.
That’s what we see visually in the card. Just a few wands, okay, this is manageable. But ten of them?! Now you can’t even see the path forward.
The road to burnout is paved with good intentions.
When I think about the suit of wands, I think about the forces that drive us. Zest! Momentum! So the Ten of Wands shows that burnout is often caused by being too optimistic, choosing to pick up all those metaphoric wands before realizing, oh. This is actually a lot to carry and what used to seem exciting has turned into a proper burden.
So one lesson of the Ten of Wands is to say NO. Or at least, don’t automatically jump to yes! Pause and assess before you add anything else to your energetic field. And maybe even find the courage to back out of something you previously said yes to that is no longer sustainable.
Burnout isn’t rational.
I’ve noticed that when I get burned out, one of my first impulses is to tell myself all the reasons I can’t actually be burned out. I point out to myself that lots of people have it worse than I do. And that I don’t deserve to be burned out. I try to convince myself the burnout isn’t real.
But of course, this is the suit of wands not the suit of swords. Burnout isn’t rational. I can usually identify factors in burnout, but the truth is that sometimes it shows up not for any particular reason, but just because.
Burnout is normalized and glorified, but shouldn’t be.
One of the (many) fucked up things about our culture is that we accept burnout as a fact of life. How many of your conversations with friends center around how busy and tired you all are? Burnout is the norm for so many people, and it’s even worse for people at the margins of society.
So, we simply must make changes big and small to transform our burnout glorifying society into one that prioritizes the wellbeing of all creatures. That should be easy! Nah. I know there’s a lot to unravel here but maybe it starts by just agreeing that burnout is a problem and should be treated as such, not just accepted as a fact of life.
Fighting fire with fire doesn’t work.
Oh goodness, this is a big one for me. Like, my adrenals are shot so my solution is to drink way too much coffee and make myself even more jittery. Yikes. Or my soul is exhausted so instead of genuine rest I scroll mindlessly through my phone and then feel even worse. Double yikes.
What I need when I’m burned out is soothing, not another blast of fire. A step away. Quiet. Deep breaths. Something gentle and flowing. When I give myself these things, I find healing.
Hmmm! There’s a lot more to say, but let’s leave it here for now. Take care of yourselves out there. Put some of those wands down. Be well.