About a year ago, I watched a short video created by Dr. Zubin Damania called It's Not Burnout, It's Moral Injury. The words he shares are directed towards healthcare professionals, but I think his message is applicable to individuals in all professions.
"Dr. Z" describes #burnout as "exhaustion, low productivity, and a feeling of deep cynicism." But, he also goes on to say that he feels as though the word #burnout or to say that professionals are "burning out", to him, is a form of victim shaming. He says that #burnout implies that an individual is not resourceful enough, resilient enough, or strong enough to handle the challenges in front of them, which is so frequently not the case. Instead, #burnout is the end result of continued exposure to something called "moral injury".
"Moral injury" occurs when someone is forced to take part in something and meet expectations that go against their moral values and ideals. This occurs in the professional world when employees, who are in fact capable and competent individuals, feel as though they are not being provided with the proper tools, resources, or autonomy to do their job to the best of their ability. This leaves them with no choice but to adapt and bend to align with the system they are in, which is often more focused on the product than the process. Unfortunately, the longer a person spends adapting and bending to fit into a system that doesn't align with their moral values, the deeper the moral injury becomes, resulting in a person feeling like they just cannot adjust any more....they just cannot do it anymore...they are "burnt out".
So, what is the solution?....Be mindful of your own personal moral code and open up space for that to become a bigger part of the driving force in your professional work. Focus on making connections with the people you work with; ask for the tools and resources that you need to be able to do your job to the best of your ability; take back your autonomy and do what you feel is fair and reasonable. By focusing in on the humanistic aspects of your job, as opposed to the mechanical or data-driven components, you will likely experience higher levels of job satisfaction, which will result in you feeling less exhausted, increase your productivity, and leave you feeling more capable and competent as opposed to "burnt out".
If you are experiencing #burnout or #moralinjury and you would like help with readjusting your focus in order to help you cope better, CONTACT Mandy Snider, M.Ed., LMFT (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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