Working on yourself is hard. There, I said it. As much as you might want to do the self-development work to make you happier, it’s important to understand that this work is not easy and that it will take time.

I often see clients sharing with me all the great things they are doing and I always offer that taking a break is also a good thing. When working on yourself is hard, it’s usually a sign that you’re doing too much and might be time for a reset.

Signs of burnout when working on yourself is hard

There are a number of ways burnout from working on yourself can appear but here are some of the most common symptoms. Be aware of them as part of your self-development journey.

  • Feeling overwhelmed: it feels like you’re doing so much work on yourself but not getting anywhere. There’s more to do and you don’t feel like you’re doing enough.
  • Depletion of energy: you’re tired and exhausted from it all. You can’t read or consume anything related to your self-development.
  • Unable to focus: you try to do the things that make you feel good like meditation and journaling but you struggle to focus.
  • Negative self-talk: you keep telling yourself that you need to continue and you have to keep working on yourself.

What you can do to make working on yourself easier

  1. Stop. Breathe and do something that brings you joy. The journey of self-love is a long one and one that should be enjoyed. If it is having the opposite effect, it’s time to chill a bit and come back when you feel lighter.⁠
  2. Reduce noise. Sometimes when we’re feeling overwhelmed, it might not be us, it may be noise around us from the TV, to friends, partners, loved ones, work, social media. Start to switch the noise off one by one and see how you feel.⁠
  3. Rest and relax. You’re not going to love yourself quicker if you do loads of work to make it happen. Self-love is a journey, it’s a process, it takes time (maybe even your whole life) so stop working on a Self-love deadline and start living in the present.⁠

⁠Why working on yourself is hard

When you embark on a self-development journey, you may think that as long as you do the work, you’ll get to the goal of becoming a better person. You are right but just like setting any goal, you need to know why you’re doing this work and how you can do it. It’s important to know what your limitations are, how much time you can give and especially how you feel after you have actively worked on yourself.

Working on yourself is hard when you are doing too much or forcing yourself to do too much. Which in itself is counterproductive for self-development. 

Types of Self-development work

Keep it simple. You can do concentrated self-development work for an hour each week. That may include:

  • Reading blogs, books etc
  • Listening to podcasts
  • Working through an activity book
  • Watching videos, taking notes
  • Reflecting through journaling
  • Hiring a therapist or coach 

The rest of the self-development work are the actions you take so be mindful that you are leaving enough time for your boundaries to be adhered to. It can be easy to give too much of yourself away to work and loved ones because you’ve already done an hour of concentrated work on yourself. However, this has the opposite effect which is why you need to be aware of all of your actions.

Why working on yourself is hard but important

When you’re working on yourself and it gets hard, it’s important to notice when you get exhausted or burnt out. This should not be happening if you are pacing out your self-development work. For those who are often ‘all or nothing’ thinkers, you may feel like you can do a lot more than you’re doing but then realise a few weeks later, that you can’t.

This is simply because in self-development work, you will face many challenges that require a lot of rewiring in your mind. This in itself is exhausting. If for example one of your self-development actions is setting clear boundaries with other people, whilst you may be able to say no, the after effects of this is what becomes exhausting. You may overthink about their reactions and how they now perceive you etc. 

Being mindful of how you feel is self-love and self-development so never do more than you can handle.

7 Steps to Self-love

I’ve put together a short guide that you can use to help you reset if you’re feeling overwhelmed by working on yourself. You can get it here.

Puja K McClymont – Certified Life Coach & NLP Practitioner

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