Do you remember the TV show Scrubs? Okay, I know it was bigger in the US than here in the UK, but we got the re-runs on a couple of channels over here.
As I was sitting down to write this morning and thinking about what I really wanted to say, it was the theme tune to Scrubs that popped into my head.
“I can’t do this all on my own, no I know, I’m no superman.”
I always liked this song, and not just because it’s catchy. Junior Doctors are a classic example of the way society expects human beings to be superhuman – and it’s neither realistic nor fair.
Some very hard working people end up feeling like failures when they don’t meet a target or goal – and they don’t consider how that target or goal was unfair on them in the first place.
I really want to encourage people to go for their goals, and not to impose limits on themselves – but at the same time we have to balance this all with the fact that we are human, we do need rest, and we do need to stay healthy.
So my message really is a good old fashioned dose of common sense. Let’s start focusing on feeling super as humans, rather than trying to become superhumans, as the two are very different from each other.
Feeling super as a human vs. being a superhuman
According to comic books and TV shows, superhumans are always on the go. They don’t need a good night’s sleep to recharge, they rarely think about nutrition or their health, and I suspect they never go to the bathroom either!
Now let’s think about what makes a human feel super. We need purpose in our lives, and that’s where our love of hitting goals and targets comes in. And we also need 8 hours sleep per night (or thereabouts), we need to maintain our health through good nutrition, and yes, we should also go to the bathroom regularly!
But jokes aside, we need to factor in our human needs with every goal we aim for in life – whether that’s a promotion, a new sporting achievement, or that classic desire to lose weight.
Something I’ve learned through my adventures in self-care and learning to be kind to myself, is that when I respect my ‘humanness’ then I feel much better. And not just better physically, but on a more even keel emotionally, and dare I say ‘spiritually’ too!
I’m not getting all ‘woo woo’ on you, I simply mean that my outlook on life and the bigger picture is brighter and more positive. My spirit no longer feels tired.
Have you experienced that feeling too, of your soul or spirit feeling tired?
Superhumans and burnout
That soul-level tiredness is also known as burnout, and it’s surprisingly common in today’s world. For most people, this simply comes from trying to be superhuman for too long. When we stop respecting our human needs, we can ultimately stop feeling totally human.
But what is it to be human? On the one hand it feels ridiculous to have to pose this question, but on the other, it does seem a little like the world has gone mad and perhaps we should be checking in on the definition of what we are.
We are organic, living beings, who are built to need rest, recovery, joy and purpose. We need more than just air, food and water. We need a reason to live. And the trouble is, if we over work, or push too hard in the pursuit of a goal, then we end up losing our sense of purpose.
It’s just what happens. We are not machines, we are much more complex and we need to respect that.
Ultimately, what I want to convey to you is to respect your ’humanness’ and all of your needs; from the physical to the emotional. You must take days off, you must eat and sleep, and you must make time for the things that bring you joy.
Yes, even if those joyful things are not a part of your master plan for success. They are still essential.
If you struggle with giving yourself a break from the pursuit of your goals, then perhaps an easy hack would be to actually make joy, fun and rest a part of your plan. Work it into your daily schedule as essential maintenance, so that you can’t get too swallowed up by your ambition and end up burnt out.
I’m no Superman, and I’m glad about that. I’m happy to be a complex human being who thrives on joy, fun and self-care.