From Fixing Burnout to Considering Birth Order

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“Suzanne Gelb Image”

”Burnout, Is There a Way Out?”


Dear Dr. Gelb:

I own a busy hair salon and I also manage it. I’m a person that likes challenges and I built the business from the ground up. But now there are so many headaches and responsibilities, I feel burned out. My recent physical checkup was fine, so I think I’m just stressed. I can’t take a vacation right now, so how can I get around this burnout? I don’t think quitting is the answer although sometimes the thought is appealing.


Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Burned-Out:

Many people use words such as burnout, burn-up, wiped out and fed up to describe what is in my opinion often a type of emotional exhaustion that can result from repressed feelings such as inadequacy, self-doubt, guilt and anger.

It is important not to lose sight of the reasons one originally chose to be involved with something, be that building a business, embarking on a course of study, or engaging in a particular profession, for example. Sometimes selfishness catches up with a person and then they feel resentful toward the situation they committed to (e.g., an entrepreneur might feel cheated because he never has enough time for himself because the business is all-consuming).

I do not think that a vacation is likely to effectively drive away the feeling of too much, too late, too soon. Such troubles tend to follow people wherever they go.

Some people have successfully handled this type of bind by making a checklist of the stressors they are experiencing, and then trying to resolve them. For example, a fix may include sharpening one’s time-management skills, delegating tasks or letting other people’s behavior (e.g., an irritating customer) be their problem.

Once a resolution is in place, then tasks can be resumed with renewed enthusiasm and energy, and a plan of action for success can be determined.

”Birth Order, Should Parents Consider It?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

I read different viewpoints about how birth order affects children. I have three kids — boy, 11, girl, 7, boy, 3. Each of them is unique, although I notice traits of their father and me in their behavior. Should I be aware of their birth order as I raise them?

Interested Parent

Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Interested:

There is much controversy about the effect of birth order on child rearing. My stand on this phenomenon is that a child who is raised with another sibling/s has the opportunity to experience growth and development in a somewhat competitive environment. This type of competitiveness can facilitate positive personality development.

I have written a couple of articles that touch on this subject area, published in Hawaii Parent. One is titled “How Children Learn Safety Through the Pecking Order.” It addresses issues pertaining to how sibling rivalry can offer constructive opportunities for children to develop in a safe environment. The other article, “And Then There Were Two