Burnout to Leadership

Ep#26 Helpless rage

March 25, 2022 Dex Randall Season 1 Episode 26
Burnout to Leadership
Ep#26 Helpless rage
Show Notes Transcript
  • The kind of rage we get in burnout
  • Why we get it
  • Self-protection and helplessness
  • Watch rage disappear as you recover from burnout

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Hi everyone, my name is Dex Randall, and this is the Burnout to Leadership podcast. Where I teach professional men to recover from burnout and get back to passion and reward at work. Hello, my friends, this is Dex. And I am just gonna check in how you're doing before I start. Hope you're well today, because on this episode, watch out, I'm gonna talk about rage because I've just had some. And that's very rare for me now, although I must say it didn't used to be. I just had an unguarded moments and I flew straight off the handle, and no one likes rage, really no one, surely. Anyway, so we're gonna talk about that, but by the way, before I begin, I'm gonna be exploring my own perceptions and thoughts here about rage, particularly as it relates to burnout, and I'm not a therapist, so before we go on, if you're having ongoing issues with rage, and you do need therapeutic support, go for it. Alright, so what we're really concentrating on here is burnout rage, where our minds paint things as black as midnight catastrophic, when they're ultimately usually not that serious. So, okay I had some rage earlier, it was just a quick dummy spit, but then I really had to laugh at myself. All that happened is some external forces added two hours and 38 minutes exactly do you hear, to my workload today, and I had a big agenda of tasks to complete already that were really important to me and they didn't give me enough notice to do this other work, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It doesn't happen to me very often, 'cause I'm actually a very highly organised person, but anyway, this time two tasks, two deadlines without notice and suddenly ping, rage. So, I spat a bit and then I had a laugh about it and I looked under the hood to see what was actually going on. And it was so trivial, really. So, the surface problem was trivial, but the underneath problem was trivial too, it's just been raining here for pretty much three weeks straight, we're in a La Nina weather event, we've got great big lumps of stormy rain chugging down all day, every day. In the last few days, my home has actually been festooned with wet clothing that I can't get dry and a bike that's already going rusty. Anyway, everything is gone soggy and my friends, I am more than gently perspiring in here, and it's 'cause I live in a stone building built in 1882, it's a beautiful mansion like building, but it has no air con. It was that trivial. And I think it often is, rage. It can be massive events, but it can be nothing much at all. And I used to be troubled by rage a lot in burnout but now almost never. I don't even get angry very much. And so I was pondering the difference as I was pacing around, boiling over in my living room, I was pondering the difference between anger and rage and I know anger is the feeling we have when someone crosses our boundaries. It's a note to self that something has gone wrong, there's been some transgression into our air space and we need to fix it, we need to protect ourselves somehow. And in that way, anger is useful. Without it, we'd be dead meat. The only thing is, I do think our barometer is a bit of in burnout about how much anger is required. We're on a bit of a hair trigger, we're twitchy reactive, and sometimes even a bit mean when we get really tired, but if that's you and you're in burnout, try not to beat yourself up too much about it. It's a feature of burnout that's more or less universal to be this reactive and angry a lot, and being angry with yourself on top of that isn't gonna add anything useful. However, I do suggest you come and talk to me and make a plan to fix your burnout so that you can think, react and respond to people in a way that you like better. Anyway, when I looked up the definition of anger, it said this, "Anger is an emotion characterised by antagonism towards someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong." For my money, it could also have been accidental, I might feel angry when I stub my toe on the desk. No third party, no ill intent. But really, I'm angry at myself for being clumsy or inattentive, not really in the present moment, but still no third party, no ill intent. Mind you then I noticed the definition was from the American Psychological Association. So, I decided to try again. Here's another, angry means feeling or showing strong annoyance, displeasure or hostility. Okay, we're getting a little bit more accurate there, I was still unsatisfied, I resorted to Wikipedia, an intense emotional state involving a strong, uncomfortable and non cooperative response to a perceived provocation, hurt or threat. Okay, now this is it. I had to laugh though perceived, non cooperative. Yeah, I can't always get my anger to cooperate in the moment, can you? But anyway, then I looked up rage, and I know this is turning into a shaggy dog story, but it said, "Violent, uncontrollable anger." And I would think range involves an element of hysteria, it's out of control in a very physical or bodily way, a visceral panicky, red hot and shaky way. We're definitely not receiving external signals when we're in rage, we've gone blind and deaf for a minute, and the sound that comes out of us in that moment can be quite primal. I reckon rage has an added aspect of extreme helplessness, abject, unacceptable powerlessness. It's more a general debility than someone has done something wrong, anger. And for me, that's the difference that pushes anger over the edge into rage, it's a kind of helplessness that hits us right in the self esteem, maybe because we couldn't protect ourselves or another person from the thing, and we feel that as a personal failing that we should have been able to prevent it. It's really a very stark self condemnation. And when rage seems so frightening to onlookers I think, well, really it's equally scary on the inside, we couldn't rely on our own protection. And when you think about all our emotional signatures, they're formed in childhood, so in childhood, an inability to protect oneself or perhaps a sibling or a parent comes very, very hard indeed. On top of that, I'm not sure. Rage wants justice the way anger does. It just wants the thing to have not happened, it's inconsolable. If rage is covering an intense vulnerability, that would make sense. Something has got us in our tender underbelly, it's taken us by surprise. It's all about impotence. I watched a guy on TV fly in to a rage the other day, and it was in a documentary about outback cattlemen mustering buffalo in the Australian bush. And his brand spanking new helicopter's radio wasn't working, and it seemed he had to cancel a whole day's mustering, for the whole team at great expense. And he spat that it made his blood boil, and I could see that that was true. In his case, as in mine, of course, rage was catastrophising on a grand scale, in the end for me, my rage was null and void, it was about nothing, it was just a cook up. For him, it was just overdoing it a bit. I mean, he went back to work with his other helicopter a couple of hours later. And really here I'm talking about the kind of rage we might experience in burnout when we're already feeling shattered and exhausted, and usually then the trigger for the rage is a recoverable situation rather than the kind of rage that's at some physical catastrophe, for example, that would be a different scenario completely. So why then, in burnout particularly, why do we tip over that edge? And for this guy it was about paying his mustering men, he was scared he wouldn't be able to pay his men. For me, it had to do with duty, I was supposed to do certain work today, I had an obligation that I couldn't fulfill. And it just struck me in a weak spot, it just caught me unaware, and now I'm thinking about it, I think about my father, and how he'd have blown his stack at the same thing, he often hit helpless rage, he was like that his whole life. And in his case, it really was because he'd had to support his whole family during the war as a teenager, he was the only male left in the household, and it was his duty, his duty to feed them, and a duty that was often hard to fulfill. And his future rages all seemed to index back to those years of impotence, watching his family on the breadline, and I guess he taught me that. So, my realisation about this now is I can relax, I can see the picture more clearly, now I've come out of the rage, my rage was just a survival instinct, gone a bit sideways, and if my father taught me this, it was to make sure I wouldn't starve. So I wonder, if you're experiencing rage in burnout, do you ever ask yourself about the underlying reason? Not the surface reason, not the trigger, what has somebody taught you about how it's imperative that you protect yourself and others that you should always be able to do that? Because you can't, you couldn't when you learned it and you still can't now, life continues to happen in often unpredictable and unfair ways. And if your rage is against the machine, what were you taught about the power of the machine before? And if it's against another person, what situation exactly triggered it? Or what specific words were spoken? Or how did someone behave towards you? Is there a pattern in that somewhere? Is there a familiar link to the past? Because of course, checking out in rage could be harmful to you and it could be harmful to others, and if we're more or less insensate in the moment of rage it's pretty hard to control. And then once we have a look at it, once we see through it, it can be reduced to just another hot emotion, that's simply hard to endure and we'd rather run away from. Well, we know how to deal with that, this is one of the things we're learning in recovering from burnout is how to deal with our emotions, particularly the uncomfortable ones. So, if that's what's happening for you, can you have compassion for the situation and for yourself in it, because rage then is such a primal response. As usual, it's just our brain trying to help us out. So, we can just gently acknowledge that if we can return to our senses. Rage is a really common experience when we're in burnout, often a very frequent visitor, but when we recover from burnout rage, anger, irritability, frustration, animosity, reactivity are enormously reduced, everything comes back into balance again, and we get a different perspective, we're able to maintain a more resilient perspective. So, if you're in burnout and you have frequent bounce of rage, you must come and talk to me about how to recover quickly and sustainably and get back your equilibrium and emotional balance, it's gonna benefit you in every part of life to be back on day with gentleness and care for yourself and others, and you can read more at mini.dexrandall.com. So, that's where I'm at today. My sense of humor. Thank you for asking, has been restored, and I'm more than happy to help you restore yours if it's gone a bit missing. I was in burnout once, my suffering was intense, it seemed limitless, it was out of control. I thought I was never gonna recover. But I did, it wasn't limitless, I came out the other side, and I taught myself how to do that, and now I'm teaching other people. But the thing you need to know is that burnout is optional, so don't dwell in it too long, come and talk to me, my friend, come and talk to me, I can help you. Even in the first few weeks, you will begin to feel better. So if that's you reach out, you'll hear the link again at the end of the podcast episode. Thank you so much for listening today. I appreciate you being here and humouring me in my crazy rage. Talk to you again next time. If you're in burnout and ready to recover, come and join my Burnout to Leadership program, you can book in to talk with me at burnout.dexrandall.com, just tell me what's bugging you and let's make a plan to fix it.