Recently a young banking intern, Moritz Erhardt, collapsed and died after working for 3 days straight. He was only 21 years old. I imagine that he had wanted to impress his bosses and colleagues and to make the most of a great opportunity, hoping to get a permanent, paying job with the bank. In a related article, I read a young woman’s description of how she ignored the signs of her body’s exhaustion and ended up in hospital on a drip: her immune system had stopped functioning normally. She, like Moritz, was trying to earn enough money in a high pressure, high stress job so she could go on to do what she really wanted with her life.
So how does it happen that we end up ignoring how we feel, and what we know to be good for us, in the pursuit of ‘work’? How does it come about that the goals and ambitions linked to our work override our common sense and compassion for ourselves? We hear and read about unemployment, recession and fear and anxiety helps fuel our ability to shut off from what we feel. If we can just get through this next week, day, hour… I believe this kind of behaviour also tells us something about how easily we divide mind from body; using our wills to conquer our poor, defeated bodies. Clearly both these examples show the extremes people can go to in pursuit of their ambitions. Nevertheless, I think we can all benefit from thinking about how we benefit from checking in with ourselves, listening to our bodies; treating ourselves with compassion and understanding.