In today’s article, we’re looking at burnout, and requiring external validation, always looking for acceptance and acknowledgement, and achievements. 

Most of the time we say that we’re actually pretty target-driven.

I work with a lot of leaders, coaches, therapists, people who are consultants in the business field, and people who are impacting lives, so we’re talking about creating exponential lives. 

Now, of course, you’re going to be goal-driven.

Of course, you want to go out there and create an impact in the world. 

And in the type of work that we do, it’s a bit of a crossover between spirituality and psychology, and personal and professional development in the real world. 

Having success.

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Now, what I find over and over again, with many of the people that I work with is that you struggle with this need or this desire to be acknowledged.

Often it’s about acknowledgement. We don’t see it as being validated. 

But we’re always seeking this external validation for how good we are, or how great we’ve done, and it actually impacts your own well-being.

How you feel is impacted if you don’t get the validation or the acceptance or acknowledgement. 

When you’re not given that acknowledgement, then very often, what that leads to is feeling disconnected from the people that we were hoping would give us that validation. 

This happens in relationships whether it’s professional or personal.

Many times what I find with my clients when we’re dealing with relationship challenges is that they feel disconnected. 

They feel disconnected from their spouse and they feel as though their spouse doesn’t appreciate them. 

When you’re in that state, you feel alone, and you feel like there’s something wrong, and you can’t seem to put your finger on it. 

That drives us to do more. I know this from my own experience.

I’m always driving myself to do more. 

You think it’s a good thing. And it is. 

When you’re creating things in the world, when you’re having an impact on lives, working on your projects, your business, your client work, whatever it is that you’re doing.

It is a great thing. It’s not good when you can’t say no. 

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This is what I find most of the time when we are in need of this external acknowledgement or validation.

When we want praise, when we want to be acknowledged as successful, or someone who’s doing well, just so that we can feel like we’re doing okay, that’s what it’s really about.

What’s driving all of that desire to please other people or to get their attention is that we want to feel like we’re doing okay.

So we’re always looking for this external input to make us feel good internally.

If you find it difficult to say no to people, this is one of the prime signs of this. I see my high-achieving clients always and forever taking on project after project. 

They’re taking on responsibilities to help other people. 

They’re always doing stuff and they’re so busy that they exhaust themselves. 

Most of the time we end up saying yes to everything because we find it difficult to say no. What you’ve got to ask yourself is why you find it difficult to say no.

Why do you have to say yes to everything?

If saying no is a problem for you, it’s because you anticipate what it will feel like, when you say no. 

The fear of saying “no” stems from the anticipation of feeling rejected or undervalued, which can lead to a damaging cycle of forever being busy. 

That disconnect, or that lack of acknowledgement, will make you feel bad about yourself. 

In your mind, it feels like a rejection.

This isn’t everyone, but most of the time, when we struggle with this, we feel like we’re being rejected.

We feel like our ideas are not good enough. 

Then we take it to a different level. We think that people are being mean and they don’t acknowledge us. 

They don’t like our ideas, and there’s something about us that they don’t like.

Maybe there’s a problem between us.

It can just get silly, and then it turns into relationship challenges, be it professional or personal.

Many times when I’m dealing with my trainees, we’re talking about the same stuff. We’re actually going through the process of getting them over this on a permanent level so that they don’t have this impacting their lives.

Otherwise, they constantly feel like they’re on a treadmill, constantly having to do things. It’s exhausting and it never stops.

If it’s not that, then it’s in their relationships. When you feel a disconnection in your relationship, it has an impact on the way you show up in your day.

If you’re not showing up the way you want to, then you end up giving yourself a guilt trip and beating yourself up. 

In the end, it just spirals. 

If this is happening to you and you’re someone who can’t say no, then there’s got to be a bunch of reasons why.

One of them is definitely going to be that you’re looking for some external input, be it acknowledgment, praise, or someone telling you that it’s good enough.

It’s all something that you’re looking for externally and you don’t want to lose that. So you’re always saying yes.

Many times my students tell me that they feel this way. And it’s been going on for a long time. 

Many of the people that I work with have been going through this for a long time. 

Usually, it’s since the loss of a loved one, the loss of something in their life, or some sort of trauma that they experienced in the past. 

They describe it as something that’s created a void in their life, that they’re always filling, or searching to fill. 

You can’t fill the void by saying yes to everything and everyone.

If you’re always trying to, then essentially, you’re always looking for the next fix.


The next fix never works. Because after that, you’re looking for the next one.

I know from personal experience, as well as experience from my clients, that it’s the high performers, the top achievers, excelling in different areas of their lives, in their careers, in their businesses, and they’re constantly searching for that external input. 

They don’t even realise it. That’s the crazy thing about it. When we do it without realising, we think that we’re working towards our goal.

What’s driving us is either the drive towards the feeling when you have that achievement, or it’s trying to get away from the negative feeling you anticipate when you fail to achieve that goal.

That keeps you in flux between these two horrible states. 

It’s horrible because the fix that you get from an achievement if it’s keeping you on the treadmill, fuels the problem.

Now, you want to be out there creating things in the world and creating an amazing experience for yourself.

You want to have all the achievements, but not need the achievement to make you feel good about yourself. 

And this is the disconnect. 

Most of us feel like we need to achieve more, and do more so that we can feel good about ourselves. The reality is that no matter how much you do, it’s never going to be enough.

And you know that. You have those thoughts going through your mind. So you’re always looking for the next project or the next goal, and whatever it is that you want to do.

So whether you’re saying yes to people, or you’re saying yes to projects and ideas that come up in your own mind, you’re doing the same thing. 

You’re chasing that feeling that you’ll get from the achievement, or you’re trying to get away from experiencing a disconnect and those low feelings and whatever it is.

But ultimately, it’s going to move you straight to the path of exhaustion and lead you to burnout.

When you get into a state of exhaustion, you’re not going to be able to continue like that forever. 

Most people work themselves into the ground.

They become their own biggest critics, knocking their own confidence, and they don’t even realise they’re doing it. 

This is a problem that I see, with so many people who have been successful in so many areas of their lives, their business, their careers, their finances, and their relationships.

They’ve been successful in all these areas, but they’re on this constant treadmill.

Or you’re constantly juggling. That’s another way to look at it.

Constantly juggling and constantly on edge out of the fear that you’ll drop one of the balls, you’ll drop one of the areas of your life.

Or you’re going to mess something up.

When you’re in that state, you’re never going to stop. You’re not going to allow yourself to rest. 

And you’re going to experience sleeping problems, a lack of energy, fatigue, a whole bunch of things. 

If you’re already experiencing that, you know what I’m talking about. Saying yes to everything or saying yes to everyone won’t help you.

It’s not going to fill that void. Often what I find is that my students and my clients, my trainees are constantly trying to fill that void.

By constantly trying to fill the void, what they’re doing is actually fueling the problem itself. They’re leading themselves to burnout, to exhaustion, or to a state of constant fatigue. 

And, if they’re not feeling fatigued, it’s because they’re managing it with exercises, going to the gym, and eating properly. 

But mentally, they still get to that place of burnout. 

With mental burnout, it doesn’t matter what you eat, and how much exercise you do, you’re still going to have that problem. 

No amount of success is ever going to solve this problem. No amount of achievement or acknowledgement is ever going to achieve it.

No amount of people-pleasing is ever going to solve this problem. 


What you have to do is take a step back.

There are three steps that you can take to actually help yourself. 

I deal with this all the time. The coaches that I train do a double job. It’s not traditional coaching. 

We do the work of personal development, success, and creating in the world. That’s on the one hand. 

On the other hand, we do a lot of unblocking, a lot of dealing with the past and the traumas and the things that hold us back. And that is therapeutic work that we do. 

So everyone is in need of both. We want to grow and we want to develop as human beings. We want to actualise the very potential that Allah (swt) has given us.

At the same time, we have things that we’ve been carrying for a lifetime. And one of those things is trying to fill that void, a void that’s maybe been created a long time ago. 

But, you’ve fueled the fire and you’ve carried it with you for a long time as well. And no matter what you do, you can’t fill that void unless you deal with the causal factors.

The things that actually ignite it and bring it alive in your life every single day. So you’ve got to take a step back and look at your life.

You have to be willing to help yourself because one of the challenges that most of us have is we’re afraid to go out and actually get help to fast-track the results, to get over the problem.

We’re not afraid to go out and do stuff. We’re doing stuff all the time. 

But we’re always going for self-development, hoping that self-help and self-development is going to be a fix. 

It kind of makes sense, when you come across it. And you’re thinking, yes it’s going to work. But when you try it, it works temporarily at best. 

But you just waste a lot of time learning loads of different stuff and different concepts that don’t actually help resolve the problem.

You’re always working on the symptoms, and not the cause itself.

So with all of that, you could waste years and years and years listening to people and doing stuff, hoping for a fix, but because you never take the steps and the action, those changes never actually happen. 

I share a lot of these nuggets because I know my audience. I know who I’m working with. 

I want you to understand that you can take this stuff and use it and apply it. But if you don’t, you’re not going to get the results. 

If you need more than what I’m sharing here, then you should actually come and join the journey. And fast-track your results.

Here are the three things that you need to do to get over this. 

The number one thing is that you need to become aware of the true cause of your void. This is always number one. 

That’s a very difficult thing for most of us to do, especially when we associate it with things from the past, or when we associate it with a loss that we’ve had, or a trauma experience, or any past experience. 

When we associate it with that, we almost get caught trying to overcome that. And we’re thinking about doing some mindset work and positive thinking.

Trying to understand it better.

But the reality is that a lot of the time the void that’s created, we experience it now.

You’re experiencing it right now, not in the past.

The past is gone. And even though you carry it with you on a regular basis, you’re experiencing it in the present. 

That means you need to go to the causal factors that are creating your experience right now. 

From the core of that is the way that you perceive and experience your life. 

As we go through the Nafs transformation programme, this is the first thing that I teach everyone because it’s the root. 

We focus on the Science of the Nafs. This is what you learn.

I’m always talking about the Science of the Nafs.  

The Nafs is the person. It’s you on a spiritual level, on a psychological level, and on a physical level. 

Whatever’s going on in your mind is always impacting you, even physically.

The burnout that we experience starts off in the mind and it ends up in the body.

So to overcome that, you have to go back to the root.

That’s the number one thing that we focus on. Becoming aware of the actual cause that’s creating the void on a daily basis. 

Number two: change the emotions that you’re feeling. Most people think this is really difficult, but actually, it’s pretty easy.

But you have to learn how to do it.

Essentially, how we perceive our lives, what’s going on in our hearts, and what we believe about our lives is creating our experiences.

Changing this is imperative because it’s about the feelings. When you’re looking for acknowledgement, you’re looking for feelings.

You want to feel good about yourself. You want to feel like you’re successful. 

You want to feel like your life is worth living, that you’ve actually done something worthwhile. You want to feel like you’ll succeed in the Dunya and Akhira. 

You want to feel like you’re going to have a win-win. 

And, if you’ve got all these horrible feelings, you want to actually escape those feelings. 

So you need to know and you need to understand where it’s coming from. The feeling of void, the feeling that I’ve got something missing in my life, something that I need that can’t be replaced.

You need to understand how to replace it because it certainly can be. 

I’m not saying that you can replace the past or the future.

Ask yourself if you are able to go back to the past at all, in any way at all, apart from in your memory. 

In memory, sure. 

But in reality, you can’t. I know I can’t do it.

The future is the same. You can’t jump forward. So you have to learn to fill that void right now in the present.

So that’s number two covered. You’ve got to do that by changing the emotions that you’re experiencing.

I’m talking about the real deal experience. Changing your experience will change your life.

Number three – Create a level of confidence that’s not connected to achievements or acknowledgement, nor pleasing people. 

Let me repeat that. You’ve got to create a level of confidence that’s not connected to achievements, acknowledgement, goals, or pleasing people. 

The type of confidence I’m talking about is the kind of confidence that is internally robust. 

It gives you a level of resilience, strength, and power that will fuel your life and everything that you possibly want to do in this life. 

It will serve you in the Deen, in the Dunya, and in every possible way. 

But what we often turn to is a confidence that is externally stimulated. This is why we’re constantly looking for acknowledgement. 

When we’re looking for something external, we need people to accept us and tell us how great we are. And that external acknowledgement is always going to be up and down. 

If you rely on that, you’re going to be stuck in this loop that creates havoc, exhaustion, and burnout. A loop that has you in a state of constantly being busy and not able to actually enjoy your life.

The level of confidence that will serve you, comes from something that you have to create. You have to detach that confidence and create it within. 

It has to be detached from your acknowledgements, your goals, and all of your achievements. It’s got to be detached from how much wealth you have, or how much success you have. 

It has to be detached from that.

When you can do that, you’re actually going to have the basis and the foundation for changing and getting away from that need to fill a void.

It will totally change all of that.

This is what the Science of the Nafs is all about.

It goes back to three things that I always teach, which are

  1. your spiritual connection; your connection to Allah (swt), 
  2. your connection to your psychology, your state of mind, the way you experience your life], 
  3. and the physical connection.

How you’re showing up in the world, how you’re impacted physically, and how you’re connecting to other people will have an impact on your whole life. 

And the best thing about it is that you achieve a level of peace, Sakina, a level of ease, just being okay. 

That in and of itself is the most powerful thing in the world because it gives you the foundation and the basis to go out and create an amazing life.

This is what I train all of my coaches on. They learn the methodology, they learn the coaching tools, and they learn the tools that will set them up for life.

They will learn the tools that they can take out and impact other people’s lives. 

This is the Science of the Nafs.

And within that, we have the Nafs therapy, which is helping you to unblock and deal with all of the stuff that keeps you stuck.

The stuff of the past, the stuff of the future, the doubt, and the destructive stuff that has us procrastinating constantly. Or overdoing it, the complete opposite. 

If you want to know more about that, go to the website:  and check it out. 

But for now, become aware of these three steps. 

Change how you’re feeling and what you’re experiencing. Create a level of confidence that is not connected to people or achievements, acknowledgement, or anything external to you. 

If you can do that, you’re going to be in an awesome place to do whatever you want to do.

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About the Author: Abdul Shahid – Master Coach Trainer & Therapist of Professional Life Coaches, pioneering The Science of the Nafs Psychology model for healing, transformation and peak performance. Specialist in Mind health, wealth and mastery using this Quran and sunnah based Spiritual Psychology.