Why Don’t we Talk about Post Burnout Growth?
I wouldn’t wish burnout on anyone. And yet, it can give rise to significant positive growth.
“In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning.” — Viktor Frankl
I’m putting the final touches on my new book about healing and evolving after burnout and reflecting a lot about my own healing journey in the year or so after I quit law.
Burnout was a traumatic experience for me. It took a long time for me to heal and evolve. And yet, I did evolve as a direct result of burning out. I came to important realizations and made significant change. My life transformed massively for the better. I have spoken to many others who have had a similar trajectory: From the depths of burnout, to healing and ultimately growth because of burnout.
Given this potential for significant growth after burnout, can we speak about something equivalent to post-traumatic growth? A kind of post-burnout growth?
While I have struggled to find research in this area (please alert me if you know of any), there is plenty known about post-traumatic growth. And I believe there are important overlaps.
Let’s explore what Post Traumatic Growth is, and how it might apply to burnout, too.
What is Post Traumatic Growth?
Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) was first conceptualized by psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun in the mid-1990s. Their ground-breaking research showed that people who endure psychological struggle after adversity can often see positive growth afterwards.
“People develop new understandings of themselves, the world they live in, how to relate to other people, the kind of future they might have and a better understanding of how to live life,” says Dr. Tedeschi (as quoted in this APA article).
While it’s nearly impossible to evolve in the middle of a crisis, as we are in pure survival mode, reflection in its aftermath can provide a foundation for growth.
Tedeschi and Calhoun use the metaphor of a seismic earthquake to explain PTG. Normally, we…