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Giving Up or Burning Out podcast episode cover The Life Coach School

Ep #177: Giving Up or Burning Out

Most people live in the constant state of giving up or they live in a state of busyness and burnout. Both of these states have really low tolerance for discomfort and very high rate of buffering. Needless to say, neither one of these states is conducive to having a fulfilling, joyful life.

On this episode, we take a deep dive into those two ways of living our lives and examine their traits and outcomes. We also look at the third option of productivity, creativity, and result-creation – the option that generates a life of contribution and satisfaction.

Listen in below…

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What You will discover

  • Why self-help is not selfish and why charity, volunteering, and giving to others are.
  • What burnout is caused by (and it’s not what you think).
  • Why people generally feel exhausted.
  • How giving up and burning out present themselves in people’s lives.
  • The importance of understanding the reasons why you do what you do.
  • The best option that generates a life of contribution and satisfaction.

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Get the Full Episode Transcript:

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Episode Transcript:

Welcome to The Life Coach School Podcast, where it’s all about real clients, real problems, and real coaching. And now your host, Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo.

Hello, hello, my friends. Hi. No really, hi. I'm so happy that you're here and that you want to listen to my podcast and you want to know the difference between giving up and burning out because that's what we're going to talk about today.

I actually have recorded - I shouldn't say recorded, I have prepared two podcasts on burning out because I've been talking a lot to my student and scholars about it and I've been playing with it myself a little bit, the difference between the two and how do we know when we're burned out or when we're just giving up. And what is burn out and how do we prevent it from happening.

I am in production mode right now in my life, I'm in a creation phase, and I'm really not as tuned into myself as I have been for most of my life. You know, they talk a lot about how self-help is all about indulgence, it's all about, "Focus on yourself and make yourself better and make sure you're happy and forget about the world." It makes me laugh when people say that because I think that self-help is the least indulgent thing we can do because it's how we show up in the world.

How we treat ourselves and help ourselves is how we are more able to show up in the world and help others. I have spent a significant amount of my life trying to figure out my life, trying to figure out myself, trying to understand myself, trying to stop hating myself so darn much, and I feel like that work has been worth it. And now I'm really in this creation mode where I'm able to give so much more than I was ever able to do when I was buffering and when I was trying to take care of myself and figure myself out all the time, and all the drama that goes along with it.

All of the: "Woe is me, I'm so fat, I'm so hungover, I'm so broke. I work so hard." Right? All of that self-pity, all of that just prevented me from showing up in the world, and showing up in the world in the way that I do, in the way that so many of my students do and in the way so many of my clients do, is not about being seen at all. It's about showing up so we can give.

And not for the sake of accolades or for the sake of like altruism, "Oh, aren't I great that I give so much", but for the sake of like honoring that human need to give. It's amazing how gratifying and wonderful that can be. So when people say that self-help is selfish, I think it's so interesting because everything is selfish, right?

Why we give is for ourselves. It feels amazing to give. Why we show up and volunteer and help other people and give away money and all of those things that we do is very selfish, right? It's crazy to think about, but so many of my students will tell me like, when they go volunteer for the day like it's the most wonderful, amazing feeling that they've had. It's not like a sacrifice for them; it actually feels amazing to them. And I think that's one of the things we miss out on when we think we have to do something.

I was thinking about this the other day, when I was in high school, there was this course where we had to volunteer to get part of the credits, right, and one of the things that I did was I volunteered to help a woman who was blind. And I went to her house and I helped her grocery shop and I helped her clean her house and I helped her organize the cans so she would know where things were, I helped to organize her refrigerator.

And it sounds so wonderful, yes? I hated it. I did not enjoy helping this woman, and it's so interesting, right? Because she really needed my help and I was genuinely helping her, but I did not enjoy helping in that way. I just dreaded going over there, the way she was, the way she approached her life, her personality, everything was really challenging for me. I didn't have any self-coaching at the time, and I just really dreaded it, and then I hated myself for dreading it, right?

It's kind of like some of us don't like volunteering doing certain things and we feel bad about that. And here's what I want to offer. The way we give needs to be in line with our passion and with what we genuinely want to do. And there are some people that genuinely want to help the children who don't have education in Africa. That is their passion, right, that lights them up. They feel like they're making a huge contribution, and they are, and it's amazing.

But for other people, that doesn’t light them up. That feels like an obligation, doesn't feel like it's aligned with their passion, but it's like out of some sense of huge obligation that they're doing that, and here's what I want to say about that. I want to say that the way that you give and the way that you honor that humanness to give back and contribute has to be in line and should not be out of obligation because if we do stuff out of obligation, if we do stuff because we feel like we should or we have to, we are going to perpetuate this idea of burnout, and that's what I'm going to talk about today.

Burnout is not caused by working too much. Burnout is not caused by working too much, it's not caused by having an unbalanced life. It's caused by the fuel you're using to work. If the fuel, the emotional fuel that is driving your action to work is fear or inadequacy or frustration or greed or scarcity, you are going to deplete yourself very, very fast, and you will feel exhausted and you will feel stressed, and you will feel anxious most of the time. And it will wear you down, and you will get burned out and your health will be affected.

But you can do the exact same amount of work, work the exact same amount of hours and be energized by it. I have seen people that work 12 hours a day that are full of life and energy and vigor and passion, and I've seen people that work 12 hours a day or less, they work 8 hours a day or 5 hours a day, that are completely burned out, completely exhausted, full on depleted.

And the difference is what is fueling you, is it energizing you or is it depleting you? So let's talk about how most people live. Most people live in a perpetual state of giving up in mediocrity, or in a state of busyness and burnout. Busyness for the sake of busyness. Now, there's a third option, and the third option is the option of productivity, creativity and result creation. This is the option that generates a life of contribution and satisfaction.

So let's start with the giving up path. This is starts and stops, lots of excuses. Lots of good intentions. I work with clients, students, all of the time, and one of the interesting things that I've noticed with life coaches especially, is the difference between how certain people react and treat the exact same circumstance.

So I will have a student that comes into the Life Coach School, and then I will have another student that comes into the Life Coach School right next to her. So I have two students. They will get the exact same training, and they will get the exact same direction on how to build their business. One of those students - this is an actual student - will make 100,000 dollars in their first year as a life coach. Another one of those students will make 10,000 dollars a year.

And the question becomes, what is the difference? And let me tell you the difference. Giving up starts and stops. So imagine this, I've talked about this before on the podcast. Imagine that you're on a trail and you have GPS, let's say the Life Coach School has provided you with your GPS, exactly what you should do, and you're walking on that trail and you keep second guessing everything. You keep turning around, you keep stopping, you keep wondering, you keep making excuses.

And the other person right next to you just keeps following directions, just keeps listening to the GPS, just keeps doing what it's told, even though they're doubting it, even though they're wondering, even though it doesn't seem right, even though they're not recognizing where they're going, even though it seems very foreign and it seems very scary, they just keep following the direction of the GPS believing that they will get there, believing that the GPS is correct.

The difference is starting and stopping and how much energy that burns up. So if I am becoming a life coach, there are so many reasons to stop and question everything and take a break, and there's relief in that, right? Because becoming a life coach, putting yourself out there in the world, showing up and helping people and sharing is terrifying for most people. It's a brand new experience, and even though we are so passionate about it, there are so many - and as soon as we stop we get relief, we get rest, and then we miss it again and then we want to start again and then we stop again and then we start again.

Now, this won't sound like, "Oh, I quit." It won't sound like a little quit that you did, but what it will sound like is, "Oh, life happened and there is a reason why I had to stop. They're a reason why I couldn't do it." Or I hear a lot, "I was just exhausted. Just exhausted." I hear that a lot. And I wonder about that, like what exhausted you? It was your brain that exhausted you because you're just so tired of listening to all this self-doubt, so tired of listening to the questioning, the constant dreading, the constant worrying.

So you say, "I just needed a break, it was too stressful, it was too hard, it was too complicated." I have had so many people like this in my life. They're always talking to me about change but their life never does. Their life never does change. Always talking about the things they want to do and all the intentions that they have, but their life is always in the same place that it was the last time I talked to them about it.

And there's always a good reason. There's always an excuse. These are really good, well-intentioned people that just consistently start and stop. So I'll say, "What's new?" … "Nothing much."

They give up before, during, and never getting to after. They have a very, very low tolerance for any discomfort, any kind of discomfort means stop. I need to go back and be somewhere predictable, I need to be taken care of, this is too scary.

I've also noticed that there's a very high rate of buffering with people who are constantly giving up. Now, the other type of person is the one who works busily to the point of crazy, and doesn't produce high, conscious work, because their thinking is so negative and fear- and scarcity-based.

You can tell this person by how many hours they work and how they can't pay attention when you're talking to them at dinner. They only talk about work. They're always rushing and stressed and overly concerned about everything that has anything to do with their work. They miss lots of important things, including sleep because of work.

It's not the actual amount of work that they have to do that characterizes this person, but rather the slew of thoughts that provoke stress and ultimately, the burnout. This person uses work as a way of buffering and not feeling. They have the sense that if they could just get cut up or make enough money that the stress would be relieved, but this never happens because the stress is coming from the brain, not from the job.

There's also a high level of buffering with alcohol and food with this type of person. They try to compensate for the stress they feel with a drink or a snack. So if these two options obviously don't work, then what is the answer? If the answer is not constantly giving up and taking a break and relaxing because you're so exhausted, and if the answer isn't completely burning yourself out and stressing and not accomplishing as much as you want to accomplish because you're driven with scarcity and stress, then what is the answer?

And here is what I believe the answer is. The answer is to be deliberate in the goals you set and mindful in the way that you think, feel, and act towards them. Think about your goal. What is fueling it? Think about your purpose. What is fueling your purpose? Is it a sense of inadequacy?

For example, we're working on purpose in Scholars this month, it's so awesome. I want to be an example, this is for me personally. I want to be an example of what is possible. I want my life to be an example of having a really rough past and not having that come into your future. I want to be an example of somebody who has suffered and now doesn't. I want to be an example of someone who goes into the life coaching industry and shows what is possible for a life coach, for a woman, for a business woman, I want to show what's possible.

I want to show what's possible in terms of having a better life without alcohol. I want to show and be an example of what is possible when you don't eat for entertainment or buffering. I want to be an example of what is possible when you stop hating other people when you stop trying to be better than the next person and you just try and be the best you that you could be.

So when I set these goals, and I set them within my business and within my personal life, it's really important that I'm not doing this from a sense of proving something to myself, of trying to be worthy. I need to make sure I'm coming from a place of full worthiness already and just doing this for fun, just doing it because I can, just doing it because it's more fun to do it than to not do it.

Have a reason for what you are doing, and do it from a place of abundance. There's plenty of time, and this is not an emergency. Your life is not an emergency. You do not have to keep quitting on yourself, you don't have to keep giving up. You don't have to keep saying that you're burned out and you need a break and you need to get off the hamster wheel.

What you need to do is decide why are you on that hamster wheel, and maybe you don't stop running, but you just start running on a path instead of a wheel. You work just as hard, you put so much more in, you don't have to give up the effort that you're putting into your accomplishment, into your ambition, you just make sure that it's being fueled by abundance.

I was listening to another podcast the other day, and someone was talking about - actually, it's interesting. I listened to three other teachers who have about the same size audience that I have, and we're all teachers and we all have about the same size of audience, and I listened to them talk about their students. And within a month period, I've listened to them all talk about very similar things.

So one of the teachers was talking about how all of her students were overwhelmed. Another teacher was talking about one of his students and how the student was complaining that they weren't further along, even though they hadn't put in the time or the effort. They just wanted that instant result. And then another teacher was talking about, "What are you willing to sacrifice to get what you want?"

Like, you can't moderate your way to greatness. You can't be mediocre in your effort and expect a stellar result. You can't look at someone else and say, "Why don't I have the result?" when you don't understand what they have or haven't put in. I'm always telling my students - they give me the reason as to why they haven't achieved something because it's hard.

They're like, "I haven't climbed to the top of that mountain because climbing is hard." Yes, it is. Climbing is hard, so what? That's why you climb a mountain - because it's hard. The sweetest part of getting to the top of the mountain is because it was hard to climb up there. If it's easy to climb up the mountain, who cares, right? Don't tell yourself the reason you haven't done something it's because it's hard, and don't do something hard from a place of should or have to, or scarcity.

Here's the sweet spot. Do hard things from a place of joy. Do hard things from a place of abundance and excitement. That's the sweet spot. Asking yourself to be more than you are today for the sake of overcoming something hard just because it's thrilling. It's amazing. It's exciting to do so. Not because you have anything to prove, anything to accomplish that will somehow be better than what you're doing now. That will burn you out too quickly and you will give up.

So pick your goal, and then manage your thoughts, your feelings and your actions as you achieve it. Make sure you're being driven by positive emotion. Now, you will be uncomfortable, you will get frustrated, you will have negative emotion along the way, and you will need to manage that for sure. But make sure the reason why you're doing something is not from a place of inadequacy and trying to prove something to the world. Do it just for the freaking joy of it.

Just because isn't it amazing to live in a world where you can try and do hard things. For me, it's I can be an example of what is possible as a human, as a woman, as a business woman, as a life coach, as a mother, as a wife. Like that's my jam. What is your jam? And please don't let burnout or giving up interfere with you being able to realize that dream for yourself.

If you are a Scholar, please take the time to do the questions in the workbook on this one. This is a big one. These two things, burnout, giving up, will prevent you from feeling the discomfort you need to feel to achieve your dreams, and there's nothing more that I want for you than you to achieve your dreams. Have a beautiful week everybody, talk to you soon. Bye-bye.

Hey, if you enjoy listening to this podcast, you have to come check out Self-Coaching Scholars. It's my monthly coaching program where we take all this material and we apply it. We take it to the next level and we study it. Join me over at the Make sure you type in the I'd love to have you join me in Self-Coaching Scholars. See you there.


  1. Brooke,
    I’ve been listening The life coach school Podcast for a long. It helped me to improve my life in so many ways. I have a list things I must do and I should not tolerate. I also make a life of what I aspire to become. I am so thankful for that. I am an international graduate student came to US for masters studies. I am little bit lost here. As I had a different work background as in Network Engineer. I came to US and studies Computer science. I do know programming as well. I have to choose career option in between Networking and Programming. In networking there are 20,000 opening as compare to Programming where there’s 100K opportunities. I am afraid if I choose wrong path. I have a fear I can’t reach to my goals if I choose wrong career path. I have my goals to be in a top in the field and I’ve been following my strategies. This is an edge and I can’t decide what I should do?

    1. Hi Chirag, Thank you for your question. Brooke will be responding to questions in an upcoming Questions and Answers episode. Stay tuned! –Rebekah

  2. 🙂 Thank you Brooke!!! Amazing the clarity that you can bring to the conversation. Thank you for making this podcast available. It truly has been life changing for me to get a hold of these negative thoughts that have evaded me all my life. I have a goal to be a scholar by 2018.

  3. Hi Brooke,
    I listen to your podcast regularly and it has helped with my thinking about many things, including my eating.
    My life has changed after watching The Stop Overeating Training Webinar on August 1, 2017. I don’t always watch webinars but thank goodness I didn’t skip this one! I almost instantly “changed the way I think about food”. What a cliche expression but that is exactly what happened and has held for the 18 days since.
    My changes:
    I see food as fuel and try each time I eat to find the best fuel available for that meal.
    I see hunger as a kind of virtuous feeling and a sign that I am not over feeding my body.
    I avoid bread, sweets and most carbs for fear that the cravings that left might return.
    I look for other methods of comfort and soothing.
    I am eating salads and roasting Brussels sprouts. My daughter thought I was sick because this is so unlike me! I do food prep and am looking for better things to eat.
    I accept the slow progress on the scale despite my radical change in eating.
    I do “something Brooke” daily to keep reinforcing these changes. I listen to your podcast upon waking or read from one of your books.
    So thank you for planting so many seeds. One of them just sprouted big time!
    Many thanks, Pam

  4. Brooke,
    I listen to your podcast weekly and I love it and have recommended it to many of my friends. I have been working on myself for a few years now and find your advice, guidance and thought process so helpful in my relationships. You help me to maintain a healthy attitude and I enjoy listening to you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. My question…..You’ve been “pushing” your Scholars class and I toy with taking the plunge but struggle with the cost. I am worth it but do I need this? What will the Scholars do for me that your podcast does not?

    1. Hi Lisa, Thanks for listening in and for the feedback! Brooke appreciates it very much. You can find all the info about Scholars here: Scholars is a program to dig deeper into self-coaching and learning to manage your mind with the help of Brooke’s teaching and coaching, among other benefits outlined on the website and in the brochure. –Rebekah

  5. This podcast came at the perfect time for me and helped me clarify why I was feeling burned out. Thanks so much!

  6. Thanks so much for having the transcripts available so I can go back and further benefit from this great episode. This is the second time I listened to the episode and it is so helpful for a person who has a tendency to both give up and burn out. I’ve realized lately this is due to my scarcity mentality and re-listening helped me connect the dots. Thanks for your work Brooke.

  7. Hi! I know it’s been over a year since Brooke created this content but I have just found #177.
    I have been listening to her podcasts since May of 2018 and I LOVE her work. My husband is going through self-coaching scholars and I hope to as well when we can afford to have both of us doing it. Even though I’ve loved every podcast I’ve listened to, I cannot get enough of this one. I’ve listened to it at least 20 times. I find it amazing that even though I’ve listened to it 20 times, I continue to hear new things…or at least become more aware of how these things are impacting me.
    This podcast YELLS at me! I am a starter and stopper. I buffer with MANY things that increase the likelihood that I will stop. I am doing a good job of being curious about this and not beating myself up. I have finished many things in my life but I don’t feel like I’ve ever been a strong finisher. Why? But, #177 has made me see soooo much more clearly how this is impacting my life. I feel as though I can clearly see how external circumstances are not the cause of me not meeting my goals and stopping all the time. I am beyond grateful for this model and for Brooke’s straightforward approach! Thank you!

    1. Hi Kelly, Thank you for the feedback. Brooke appreciates it. Glad to hear her podcast has been helping you during this time in your life. Also, feel free to share those Scholars materials with your husband… if he will let you! You can join the coaching calls on separate devices. Feel free to email us if you have any questions about your Scholars membership! –Felicia