How Changing a Memory Helped me Break a Cycle of Overwork and Burnout

How Changing a Memory Helped me Break a Cycle of Overwork and Burnout

I am a brainy girl.

I went to Harvard and Brown. My teachers loved me! I was always engaged and curious about the material.

But my highly cerebral ways don’t serve me sometimes.

Here’s why:

I’m a big believer that our previous experience “encodes” in us. That time we failed at one thing and made it mean something really big? That really negative critique in design school? We carry them with us. The fear and judgment that our father carried? It lives on in us.

It creates unconscious programming that shows up in self-sabotaging ways.

We’re still trying to be the good student—so we wait until we’re 100% sure to put out an idea.

All those experiences being overlooked as an expert because we’re women? We walk around with a chip on our shoulder.

We got the A because we always took over the group project, and now we don’t think we can rely on anyone else.

Now the problem for cerebral brainy girls like me is that we’re smart. We read books. We go to therapy to talk it out.

We can 100% know all the reasons we’re triggered….

But… we’re triggered anyway…. and we keep showing up in the self-doubting, defensive, perfectionist, overworking way.

I have found over the years that talk therapy by itself has its limits for me. I can endlessly dissect the reasons, but it doesn’t lead to change.

And I’ve found that experimenting with body-based tools—and tools that target my subconscious like tapping, hypnosis, or embodied visualization work—is much more effective.

It reroutes the “know it all” part of my brain that keeps me stuck.

So I just experimented with a new tool taught by Melissa Tiers, a hypnotist.

It turns out our memories are more malleable than we think. 

They are “updated” every time we access them. So I used one of Melissa’s tools to re-access some of my early memories and give them a new “emotional track.”

What did I update? 

An early memory from high school of trying to please authority figures.

A high school memory of “having to do it all myself” that keeps me trapped in a cycle of overwork.

Instead of grasping and striving (with authority figures), I experimented with a new emotional track of neutralness. Calm curiosity.

Instead of determined resignation (doing it all myself), I experimented with trust and satisfaction that it would all work out.

Many midlevel women in the architecture and planning fields are facing overwork and burnout. In fact, it’s one of the top reasons they’re leaving their firms.


I conducted a survey on the experiences of the associate level and above in architecture and planning, and produced a whitepaper on my findings with key recommendations for career fulfillment. Click here to download my whitepaper and learn more.

Hi I'm Maya

Mia Scharphie , career coach, headshot

I’m a career coach and strategist with a secret power (I mean, past career) as a designer. I love road trips, graphic novels and helping people like you design the career you love on your own terms.