This story was created in partnership with Teresa Sabatine.
Had it not been for Teresa Sabatine, there’s a chance you wouldn’t be reading this. In early 2019, I found myself completely lost. I had recently lost my mom, had a baby, and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my career. I had big ideas and zero confidence to move forward with any of them. A friend recommended I hire her for some life coaching and about seven months later, Indy Maven launched.
Since then, Sabatine has helped nearly 100 women recover from burnout and create thriving careers and businesses. As a high-performance mindset coach, she deploys business and mindset coaching in the Women of Impact Accelerator, a business accelerator for women entrepreneurs leading social impact companies, and helps women get unstuck in her burnout recovery program, From Stuck to Clarity. She also offers private 1:1 coaching.
Prior to coaching, she spent a decade advising Mayors, Governors, and executives on multi-million dollar business and sales strategies. Her career has included leading teams and producing, packaging, and selling projects for brands such as Sony, Lionsgate, Paramount, NBC, and the Global Marketing division at Nike headquarters. Before launching her company, she was appointed to create and run a film and television economic and tourism engine for the city of Indianapolis. Within three years she grew the initiative to a $21 million-dollar enterprise.
It was during that time working 16 hour days that Sabatine experienced her own burnout which is what led her down the path of reinvention to mindset and performance coaching.
Sabatine, who received her coaching certification from Duquesne University and has trained extensively in the areas of intentional change theory and emotional agility, is now on a mission to unravel the lies women have been told about what it means to be a “good woman.”
“When a woman is free from the toxic narrative that she is never enough and she can live without shame and guilt, that anything is possible for her life,” she said.
Read on for her take on why we’re all just so damn tired, how we got here, what we can do about it, and more.
PLUS! Join Teresa and Leslie for a Women of Impact Interview on Monday, October 18 at noon on LinkedIn. Click here to attend!
What are you seeing surrounding women experiencing burnout?
Extreme anxiety from overwhelm and exhaustion. They feel foggy, incapable of handling the workload they used to handle, a decrease in capacity. This all leads to a narrative that something’s wrong with them — that it’s not what they were taking on that’s wrong, it’s that they’re not good enough to handle it — which is a lie.
So the Million Dollar Question—why?
What I think is at the core is that most of us are doing so much work that isn’t our responsibility. We know that women are doing thousands of hours of unpaid labor in this country and all over the world. At some point, it becomes physically and emotionally impossible to keep up, especially in these unprecedented times we are in because of the pandemic. These last two years have really shown women how much we are doing things we don’t want to be doing or that we are not compensated for doing. This cycle has consequences on us and our families. So we wake up and realize the current system isn’t working, but the idea of stopping the cycle or changing the system feels like death because it’s at the cost of disappointing others instead of ourselves. It’s the story that we will let other people down if we make a change.
Every woman that I do this work with has a part of her, a belief she’s been handed by society, that she must be accepted to survive. We know central to Brene Brown’s work is that idea that all of us are looking to belong. We live in a society that tells us our belonging is dependent on our performance. I think that this is the human condition, it’s both feminine and masculine, and it’s one of the loudest narratives in our brains.
Do you think our society rewards that loop narrative?
Yes, I think it keeps rewarding us because it keeps the women down. Here’s what I know from helping women and supporting them in business: If all women did exactly what their instincts told them to do at all times, the majority of society’s problems would be fixed. But, society wants us to second guess ourselves so we don’t gain momentum and power.
What do you think women’s instincts are telling them to do that they’re ignoring?
I think because women have been told over and over that their most important role in society is to be reliable and dependable it leads to the belief that ignoring their own needs is the right thing and the necessary thing. The narrative is, “I’m a good mother if my kids’ needs are taken care of all the time.” If there’s no boundary there, when do you have time for yourself? The story is…There’s no time. I’m only a good teacher if I don’t break this code. I’m only a good mom if I don’t break this code of divine selflessness. I’m only a good wife if I don’t break this code. I’m only a good daughter if I don’t break this code. I’m only a good employee if I don’t break this code. I’m valuable when I’m always available.
This is what’s required for me to be good. Capital G. Valuable. Dependable. Reliable. This is a story that women have been told and sold —this is what acceptable behavior is.
What’s one small thing women can do to try to combat all of this?
It is important to recognize that going from complete selflessness to taking time to meet our own needs can feel dangerous. You can think of your nervous system like a computer’s software. It is currently programmed to not have us take up space. So we have to actually create new neural pathways (software) by taking incremental steps in the direction of meeting our own needs. We are teaching our nervous system (reprogramming) that it is safe to take up that space and that it isn’t dangerous to carve out that time for ourselves. Old beliefs die really hard in this particular example.
I always say to a woman who is afraid of letting others down, find one person in her life where she reveals her work right now is to set better boundaries. And this is the one person where she can message them, let down, cancel on them, take space, and that person knows this is what she’s working on and there’s no consequence. This gives you a safe space to practice changing the beliefs and see if it really is dangerous. Once your nervous system sees it is possible, it will allow you to show up this way in other areas of your life.
Another thing I do when a woman calls me and she’s so burned out she feels like she can’t do it anymore, I say to her, “Write down the five most important people to you, and every time you’re faced with a decision, ask yourself if I told one of these five people that I can’t do something because I don’t have the capacity today, would I lose their approval or love? She will quickly find that the people most important to her actually want her to have the space, and if anyone on that list denies her this space, she can reevaluate their place on her list.
What’s the biggest challenge for a woman doing this work?
The hard part about this is, not only do you have to make the change in yourself but you oftentimes have to educate the people you love the most because they’re also conditioned. That’s another layer of work, and when we are tired, we can’t fathom finding the energy to educate someone so we say to ourselves, “I might as well just do it myself”. That’s what women have been doing since the beginning of time. We’re constantly trying to educate on empathy, understanding, and compassion, we are the ones having the hard conversations and being emotionally vulnerable. That takes energy. To take it even deeper, this is one of the reasons Black women tell me they are so tired. They’re doing the emotional labor to get society to realize why this racial violence and injustice matters on top of dealing with the violence and injustice. It’s that extra layer of work that we are forcing them to do because that is the “role” of the woman, yet in a world where currency is king, no one is compensating them for this work.
What gives you hope?
That every single woman — no matter her socioeconomic status, her beliefs, where she’s from, what she has or doesn’t have, it doesn’t matter — the process works. If they can carve out 30 to 60 minutes a week to go inward and find even an inch of space, it will change their life. It’s why the program I teach is 90 days because, after a few weeks of realizing how it feels to take up a little bit of space in a supportive environment where she can show herself that it isn’t dangerous or destructive, she will never want to go back to the old way. Every woman that commits to this process realizes that she has so much power inside of her and that the people she loves are better off because she takes up space for herself.
And the work doesn’t have to be with me. Different people are doing this in their own ways. There are many modalities available to them; therapy, women’s groups, meditation. As long as they take space for themselves and commit to the work, they can make dramatic changes rather quickly. Not because the system is going to change, or the work environment is going to get better, those are things that also need to change. Let’s be clear, women are in this position because the systems we live in are flawed. If enough of us can come together in our power, we can find the energy and capacity to fight together to change things externally.
There’s a lot of information out there about burnout right now. What makes working with you different?
I’m not only helping you overcome burnout, this work is about helping you find your voice and build a solid foundation of self-knowledge. The more you understand your own self and the more you shape your beliefs, the more power you have. I’m also incubating you in a community of other powerful, creative, strong, curious women. If you’re feeling sick and you stay in the same environment that made you that way, it’s harder to change. If you’re only talking to people that expect you to burn yourself out for their benefit, or believe that you are feeling this way is normal or acceptable, it will be hard for you to find your way to feeling better. In our coaching sessions no dream, desire, hope, or idea is off-limits. Whatever it is you want for your life, we can work together to help you make it happen.
If you could give a gift to every woman today, what would it be?
I would erase from their memory, any instance or person that told them they didn’t know best. That someone knew better for them. When we are told from an early age that others know best, it constantly decreases our self-trust. That’s why sometimes when someone asks a woman who is burnt out what she wants, she doesn’t know. She has spent a lifetime focusing on other people’s needs, for her own survival. One of the reasons you become burnt out is you’ve spent years being told that your needs don’t matter and eventually that catches up to you. One day you may wake up, look around, and realize there are things you want and you aren’t sure how to get them and in many ways, you are too tired to even try.
The movement I’m trying to create and make clear is that it’s safe to be yourself. There are places where it is safe. If you don’t have somewhere in your life where it’s safe to be yourself, come talk to me. I’ll help you find safety. It could be by going to church. Indy Maven events. A therapist. A girls’ night to drink tea and talk about your marriage. If we keep living in shame quietly, we’ll never change this. And that’s what they want us to do. If we all realize there is nothing wrong with us, that our anxiety is warranted, and that together we can change our circumstances? Game over. Believe me, there is nothing wrong with you. And on some level, you already know what you want and how you want to feel, sometimes we just need someone else to help us find our way.
For more information or to contract Teresa Sabatine visit www.teresasabatine.com.
Leslie Bailey is Indy Maven’s co-founder and CEO.
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