Towards a general burn-out?
I recently met a very dear friend who frequently complained to me that she suffered because of the hugely discomforting disparity between her personal values and those imposed by her daily professional life. But like many, she had learnt to ‘live with it’ and got used to it. I heard recently that she had suffered a ‘burn-out’ and had just spent 4 weeks at the hospital, all this followed by an acute long depression.
I have often had the occasion to discuss with my friends, or even clients, who complain about the ‘big disparity’ between what they think in their personal life, their values, and how they behave in their daily professional life. These two worlds are becoming increasingly disparate and irreconcilable. Their double identities are in conflict and this conflict often translates itself by stress, illness and depression, a ‘burn-out’ or mental disequilibrium.
The identity collapse
We play increasingly multiple roles in accordance with the audience or the circumstances before us. We also have different identities when we are face to face or when we are online. The more the world becomes complex and fractal, the more our personality itself becomes complex and fractal in order to adapt continuously and at a growing speed, to the current situations and encounters. So we had for decades an almost unchanging single personality, in general conditioned by our surrounding group. Our family identity, for instance: the ‘son of Martin’ or a geographic identity, ‘from Millsville’ or ‘Italian’ or even professional, ‘a tailor’, ‘a tanner’, etc. Then we passed on to a plural identity. We are not the same at work, with our friends or with our children. We became fractal personalities that change and adapt continuously.
We even notice acceleration in this change of our personality. Formerly, we could perhaps change our personality once or twice in our life, rarely more. Then we began changing our identity many times in a day. And now we change personality all the time!
Our identity, our ‘self’ is no longer something unique, constructed by our parents or our group. Our identity is constantly under construction, almost from peer to peer, under the influence of that increasing mass of people with whom we interact in the real and virtual worlds.
Life has become a multitude of plays where each actor-spectator plays his role in a collaborative way with the other spectator-actors. And this permanent and ever-changing play looks less and less like a well written comedy and more and more like improvised theatre!
Who am I?
So with all these identities that are increasingly multiple and fractal, the question comes up: who are we? Our personality is no more stable, it has become chaotic! Our understanding of the evolution of chaotic systems provides us with elements of thought. I see two possibilities:
- Either we lose ourselves in all these identities that are opposed to one another to a point of being in conflict and leading us to madness or depression. It is a ‘breakdown’. So, numerous victims of depression, burn-out and all kinds of new pathologies, such as ‘borderline’, are symptoms of this breakdown.
- Either there is a ‘breakthrough’: the emergence of a new level of consciousness at once completely embodied in our multiple identities and completely detached from them. More and more awakened persons, those that we call culturally creative, for instance, show the possible emergence of a supra-individual identity both embodied in the multiple identities and detached and ‘above’ these. There is then an evolution of consciousness.
A new human for a new humankind?
And these two possibilities of either an individual breakdown or emergence reflect two possible evolutions of humanity as well: breakdown or breakthrough! The different identities of humanity taken together, that is the different cultures, the different religions and different nationalities had lived, basically, independently from one another until a few centuries ago. Through numerous exchanges thanks to globalization, today they meet in a massive and permanent way. Let us remember here, the over 2,5 billion human beings who have access to the Internet, the over 5 billion who have a mobile and the nearly 50000 flights that transport people all across the globe each day…
In order to avoid a breakdown of humanity as a human collectivity, a great worldwide ‘depression’ which won’t just be restricted to the economy and a descent into the darkness of an epoch of ceaseless conflicts, social and ecological drama, the emergence of a new planetary consciousness is indispensable for the survival of humanity
The road towards more meaning and more spirituality is no longer the luxury or the pleasure of a few. It is no longer an entertaining New Age kind of accessory. It is a question of the survival of the individual and of humanity as a whole.