Last week, after DJ Avicii died, I watched the Netflix documentary about his last couple of years before he left the touring.
It was sad to watch how he drove himself to exhaustion and how the look in his eyes changed from excitement to disconnection - like he was not there anymore.
He couldn’t slow down to rest and heal, not even in the hospital where he sat on his bed working with his laptop all the time, bottles of coca-cola next two his bed and room filled with people, while he was talking with the team of doctors about serious health issues.
He tried to get some help and seemed to desperately get help while continuing touring and working 24/7 and only got deeper into the self-sabotaging cycle while his body was screaming all the warning signs.
Alcohol, success, work, drugs, are great addictives taking the edge off the emotional and physical pain, numbing and blocking the way to understanding and allowing the healing to start.
Social media was blaming his manager who certainly focused only on making him more and more successful with any cost. But also Avicii himself, something inside him, drove and pushed him to achieve more and work harder. He couldn’t take any credits for his success and work.
He didn’t know what he really wanted to achieve and what would make him feel fulfilled. Nothing was enough, he was not enough.
Curse of publicity and overnight success?
No, this is everyday life.
Too many people struggle with the same disease and are driven by subconscious, unrecognized self-beliefs leading to extreme stress and exhaustion when they try to achieve and fulfill the never-ending external demands and requirements.
His story touched me deeply because it brought up the vivid feelings about my own burnout.
I remember sitting on the beach and begging help from the universe, or anyone, so that I could feel calm, connected, and peaceful again. I couldn’t hear anything behind the cacophony in my mind.
Then the day came that I had been afraid of: After a one-day work trip to Paris, I dropped on the couch and couldn't get up.
I had been scared, feeling so lonely, anxious, and panicky and I couldn’t sleep well anymore. I knew that I was dancing on the tightrope but this deep, dark fear had kept me going and escaping my reality and myself.
I had numbed myself with work, busyness, partying, alcohol, and smoking, and living the life that felt like somebody else’s life - it all felt meaningless. I felt so restless that I couldn't calm down to watch a movie, read, or be alone.
On that day I understood I could either keep destroying myself - for nothing really - or take it seriously, get help, and help myself.
It’s a dangerous - life-threatening - combination to feel extremely unworthy and believe that working more and harder and being better is the way to fulfillment, success, love, and acceptance.
When these inner drivers and false self-beliefs are on, there is no stop sign and we lose the control, and connection first with the feelings and then with the self - the most precious assets that we have.
The first thing I did then was that I simplified my life and started changing my habits. I set clear boundaries and stopped putting everyone and everything else ahead my own needs and real desires.
Sometimes it meant lying on the floor listening to jazz or sitting in complete silence starting out of window, which at first was scary and strange but as it felt right I did it.
I felt fragile and broken for quite a while, but I was able to save myself. It opened me up to a new level of sensitivity, which also meant I was not able to work as much as I did before - not a bad thing in the end!
It was then when I found Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now opened my eyes to see things from a totally new perspective - it was a delicate but so powerful paradigm shift, and gave me the answers that I had been looking for a long time. The Art of Living in the Present Moment became the core of my life and a few years later my work.
It was a blessing, like our challenges often are if we just learn to see them that way. I started the ten-year journey to spiritual and personal growth and healing. My drivers are now completely different and I'm on my mission to help everyone to become aware and understand that we all have the power, and a key to healing, happiness, and real success and well-being.
If you have have symptoms of burnout or if you are constantly exhausted, resentful and cynical about your future and your daily life - or if you are constantly sick or in pain - get help. It's not the way life should be and you can change it for better.
With love and gratitude,