Tim Butler

Counselor, Life Coach & Speaker

Filtering by Tag: balance

How To Survive The Dead Of Winter: Burnout

Burnout…that condition in which we persistently and consistently experience less than optimal functioning in our work life and/or personal life. Whereas this can be quite normal, it is not pleasant at the very least, and can leave us frustratingly unproductive at the very most. Also, it usually will not just “go away” on its own.

Just like an electrical fuse that keeps blowing, there is a reason it is happening. Something in our life is pushing us to the end of our emotional limits. If we do not address our burnout and take steps to manage our emotional limits better, the future will look too much like the past.

Watch this 30 minute video of a live presentation on this topic.



Tim Butler gives a message at CedarCreek about how to avoid burnout.

Free Download: Wheel of Life

How Balanced Is Your Life?


Once you’ve completed each category, connect the marks to see how balanced your life is right now.

A perfectly balanced life would be represented by a perfect circle.

But life isn’t perfect. Is it? Use what you find out to set new goals for yourself. Be specific in goal setting. Repeat the process to keep track of your improvements.

A View From The Bridge

Time creates a bridge that spans the hole, created by the death of a loved one. One has to decide whether to cross over the bridge, or choose to walk down into the depths of the crevasse. This choice has to be made often. Clearly the walk over the depressive opening is harder and takes intentionality.

The week between March 25th and the 30th always presents that same opportunity for me to stop on the bridge and look down. Looking contemplatively, into the vast expanse of emptiness resulting from the death of our daughter.

Emotionally it seems so attractive to dive into the depths below. Over the years, however, and after a few trips down, I come back to the surface realizing I am not able to accomplish what I thought I might, namely, feeling better for having drowned in my sorrows.

Instead, I have learned the beauty of stopping—intentionally—on my otherwise activity-filled life to remember what the hole really means to me: The joys and sorrows that accompany the life and death of our sweet little Linette. Born on the 2nd of January, 1990, and advanced to Heavenly bliss on the 25th of March, 2002.

As I look over the bridge this year I find myself healthier than I was in 2002.

I find myself a much stronger person as a result of clamoring up the banks of the deep divide to find footing on the bridge.

I find myself cherishing all the memories of her life, and being less traumatized by the events preceding her death.

I am able to clearly see the beauty of my life, and yet still embrace the tears when thoughts of missing her come to mind.

I do not push the thoughts away, but I am able to breathe deeply the bittersweet fragrance of her short life and still maintain my footing, as I journey life without her. For those who knew her, feel free to look over the bridge for your own contemplative remembrances. Share them with me if you like.

For others who only have heard the stories, take time to pray that her impact will penetrate the beauty of life for those of us who have learned to walk with a limp.

Resiliency (Part 3)

Finally, concluding the theme of building up you cumulative reserves to be able to better withstand life’s ongoing pressures, I submit the next 4 ideas. Refer back to the first 2 blogs for the first 6 items already on the list. Again, as you read this, look for those areas that seem to resonate best with your lifestyle and expectation, and seek to apply them to your life. Remember, if nothing changes, nothing will change.

7. Keep hope alive. When we lose hope we lose everything. Hope will test our existential foundation, namely, what we believe to be the meaning life. We find strength in hope. However, it is not always easy to generate hope when reality looks hopeless. Our emotions play a huge role in remaining hopeful even in the face of evidence to the contrary. We cannot deny our emotions, but we also should not deify them. Remaining hopeful means we need to look at the wider picture, as stated in my earlier blogs. Friends and loved ones can help us look beyond our emotions and get a healthier perspective. Metaphorically rising above our immediate circumstances to get a wider view will show us where hope is still alive. Again, when we lose hope, we lose everything.

8. Build/Improve relationships. We were created for relationships. Married people live longer than singe folks. “Two are better than one”, to quote a Biblical passage. I am continually amazed when patients share their deep wounds or struggles with me, and then inform me that no one else knows what I now know. How sad, I think to myself, to be so lonely. Things can definitely become darker if no one else is in our dark room of life with us. Clearly not just anyone, but that special person or two that has the ability to listen, and when appropriate, give truthful counsel. Getting another person’s perspective allows us to gain greater insight into something that may have seemed hopeless, or impossible. Reach out; it helps you to stay on track.

9. Develop self-confidence. We are doing both ourselves and our young children a grave injustice when we insist that we as parents are responsible for their self-confidence. Think about it; what is the only way you are totally certain that you can “climb a mountain” as it were? The obvious answer is, by doing it. Someone telling you that you have all the right stuff to accomplish that next thing can be good and helpful from a cheerleading standpoint, but not a self-confidence builder. It is all theoretical until we actually accomplish that thing. Kids are growing up thinking everyone is a winner. Sometimes adults still believe that. Unfortunately, that is not the case; there are losers in the game of life. The goal is to find that thing(s) in which you can be the winner, and work at perfecting that skill/talent, and thus develop a genuine confidence in yourself.

10. Keep your body, soul and spirit in shape. We all possess the same basic equipment from birth. First, our physical bodies that allows us to move, work, eat, play, etc. Next, our soul, or the place that allows us to have feelings and emotions. Finally, our spirit, or the element that gives meaning to life and allows us to find hope and significance. If any one of these three areas is out of balance, or not functioning properly, our entire being suffers. If we desire to stay resilient in the face of challenges, we do well to be purposeful about taking care of body, soul, and spirit. Physical exercise, emotional self-control, and spiritual exploration is the bare minimum for staying fit overall. The word I like using is intentionality. It seems to conjure up in my mind the direction of my life that I want, versus, letting mere chance run my existence. To be resilient, we need to be intentional.

Be strong: be resilient. Feel free to share with me your tips for resiliency; the possibilities are as varied as our personalities.

Resiliency (Part 2)

On the continuing theme of building up you cumulative reserves to be able to better withstand life’s ongoing pressures, I submit the next 3 ideas. For the first 3 items on the list, refer back to Resiliency (Part 1). Again, look for those areas that seem to resonate best with your lifestyle and expectation, and seek to apply them to your life. If nothing changes, nothing will change.

4. See crisis as opportunity to grow. Things happen to all of us from time to time. Some more sever and impacting than others. Regardless of the crisis, can we calm our emotions enough to process the event and learn from it? When my kids were younger and they would either make a mistake or experience something earth-shattering (age-appropriate), I would frequently ask them, “what did you learn from that”. What life-lesson can be drawn from the event? What can we do differently the next time? Accept the fact that some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue.

5. Look for self-discovery after the struggle/loss/crisis/event. It has been said that crisis builds character. More accurately though, crisis reveals character. Our character gets formed over time as we respond appropriately to life’s everyday events. When the big trauma hits us, we show what we are made of. Much like bumping a glass filled with liquid; what has been filled with spills out. Self-discovery is the ability to be introspective and realize the improvements that need to be made in our beliefs, values, or emotions. At the top of the list of necessary improvements, needs to be the element of self-control. When we lose that, we risk being taken over by life’s external pressures.

6. Look at the wider picture. Myopic views of life are limited in scope. We can easily make quick conclusions or decision with very minimal information, but experience teaches us that those decisions may not always be the best. Keeping with the resilient theme, if we are to position ourselves to withstand the daily pressures of life and stay strong, we need to look at the larger picture, or meaning, of life. Clearly, there are always details of our situation over which we have very limited knowledge. We may feel like we are the only ones suffering, until we take a look at others who have not only suffered as we, but have shown tremendous coping strategies. Wider views bring deeper knowledge and greater understanding. Let it not be said of you that you cannot see the forest for the trees. Rise above your situation and see the view from a wider angle. Accept the fact that some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue.

Holidays: Love 'em or Leave 'em?

Say what you want about the holiday season, but the reality is, the holidays are upon us, as happens every year. For some it is the happiest time of the year, but for many, it represents a time for emotional turmoil, frenzied schedules, and grand disillusionment. Pace and balance are two words in scarcity during these months. We tend to get caught up in the social momentum; throwing regard for personal stability out with the summer toys. We lose our sense of homeostasis when the holiday music begins (way too early for many), and find ourselves racing toward the grand and glorious finish line. However, as we learn every year, and unlearn by the time November rolls around again, on the other side of the finish line is a dark hole. Let down. Awkward silence. Dark days ahead. Ever wonder why January and February are the biggest months for mental health services? For many, the emotional crash leaves us gasping for breath in our innermost being, yearning for the joy and warmth that was promised just a few weeks back. What is the problem? What can be done about it?

Be Realistic. Put together a realistic plan that incorporates all the subtle nuances in your life this year. Remember, every year brings its own challenges and burdens. Ignoring the unique load on your shoulders this year, will be as effective as leaving the gravy on the stove top too long. The expectations of others are not necessarily a good guide for your holiday journey. Meeting—or exceeding—last year’s performance may be unrealistic for you and your family. Memories are made whether we plan or not. Set your sights on the plan of action that best suits all involved. Whether the plan is on paper (preferred) or stored in the already-crowded closets of your mind (overloaded), be realistic as to what you can do and what simply is not going to fit in. Then, keep your plan, to the best of your ability; making slight course corrections along the way. You will find you have more joy and peace.

Learn To Say No. Social pressures can mount exponentially during these emotional months. Being forced into spaces with not-so-loved ones can leave us wishing we were wearing a pager to allow us a graceful exit. To be sure, some familial encounters are necessary and important; grin and bear it. But, for other invites, a simple response is all that you need to effectively communicate…”No, it is just not going to work out this year. But thanks”. Weigh demands against your own reality before you agree.

Lastly, remember: this season will pass as it does every year. Try to maintain your emotional balance during the various demands on your time, schedule, and emotions.