Burnout to Leadership

Ep#38 Creating Safety

July 01, 2022 Dex Randall Season 1 Episode 38
Burnout to Leadership
Ep#38 Creating Safety
Show Notes Transcript
  • When our sense of security falls apart.
  • How loss of safety and trust blows up in burnout.
  • Generating a sense of wellbeing.
  • Championing yourself.

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 people, this is Dex, and today we're talking about creating safety, because it's fundamental to recovery from burnout. Where everything is going out of control, we feel like we are dropping the ball, we're failing all the time, we're letting our people down. Usually when we think where other people are judging and criticising us non stop, clue, it's really us, and often because of that, very insecure, we get imposter syndrome, probably think we're gonna lose our job. And we develop this kind of generalized anxiety around people, around work, family, home, finances, the whole thing, health, anything else we hold there, I mean, even our favourite seat at the cafe, we think we're gonna lose it, the availability of toilet paper in COVID, that was a good one. Or right now, as I'm recording this, of all things, the escalating price of lettuce is making news right now. And so really this whole thing is, we see this seemingly secure unpredictable life that we've been building for years and years, start to fall apart and fray at the edges, and we get all overwhelmed and helpless, don't we? And then because of that, we become defensive, aggressive, withdrawn, and as we say here in Australia, we basically crack the shits with the whole thing. And in my case, in burnout of at work, it was extremely destabilizing for me and it led to panic and night sweats. And I was really just looking around myself, seeing my whole work kinda little cosmos crumble and I was blaming myself really severely, there's huge cracks appearing in everything, and I knew I was gonna get found out any minute. And I went from being this infallible kind of fixer of all things, to this conscious incompetence, where I think in my case it was actually hyper conscious or maybe conspicuous incompetence. And that's just how I felt all the time and I dreaded everything and I really did not enjoy that. And at the end of my burnout I was imagining myself destitute like the airline pilot who ends up living on the streets, it was really very, very scary. So okay, if that's kind of the general scene, safety is missing, and if you're coming to me listening to this podcast, maybe it's missing in parts of your life as well, and maybe you're a little bit concerned about that. Maybe you're feeling anxious and overwhelmed at work or maybe at home, maybe you're sleeping badly waking up in a bit of a panic, but no wonder, it's all I'm gonna say. I call this whole situation that we've got now, a systemic or societal burnout because it's so widespread. And hold tight, 'cause I'm gonna talk a little bit about what I mean there, why so many of us live now in this bubble of anxiety and overwhelm, like putting a little space helmet on and closing ourselves in it. And so this episode is gonna be in two parts, I'm gonna talk about why I'm calling it societal burnout, and go through that a little bit, why you might be experiencing what you're experiencing, and then the second part we're gonna talk about what to do about it. And I want to talk about the reasons because really it's important to normalize our experience of this and recognize just how the way that we are trying to live today cultivates this sense of unease, this sense of unsafety, we're living on a bit of a knife edge all the time alone and together. And when we round all this information up in one batch, you'll be able to see why we've ended up here in burnout all together. And don't worry, yeah, as I said, I am gonna go on then to explain how you can create a sense of safety for yourself, it's quite a bit simpler than you think and you can do it, 'cause burnout is fixable, you need to learn a few new skills. And if you do that you can bounce back fully, whether you're in burnout now, whether you're just a little bit anxious and depleted and irritable, maybe you're on the road to burnout, but those things don't get better on their own. And I think you know that, 'cause I think you've probably already tried to fix all of this yourself. But you can learn a much better way to tackle work and life that's gonna basically put the smile back on your face, and it's gonna do it by creating a little bit of safety for you in your environment, so you're not living on that knife edge all the time. 'Cause when you do step back a little bit from that brink and think about safety now, we'll go through it a little bit together. Not the animal level of safety, which I've talked about in other episodes, but it's my view that modern life has this kind of endemic lack of safety in it. And many of us, I think as a result of that, experience a really big mistrust when we're in burnout. Not terribly surprising, considering how out of control we feel, and I talked a bit about that in Episode 6, on feeling out of control and trust, maybe you want to also listen to that episode. But the upshot is, we don't trust other people when we're feeling a bit frazzled or we don't trust other people when we don't trust ourselves first. And yet finally, our environment is playing a big part in that, the world is shifting gears. I've seen how, I think in my lifetime since particularly since about 1995 when the internet was taking off, the rate of change has done nothing but accelerate and our model of our world and our model of who we should be in that world, has changed really radically. And so I think about it like this, in terms of the loss of the pillars of society of safety that people in previous generations did enjoy. So let me go through a few of them with you now. So let's start off with the government, and you might also wanna think about this as capitalism or the patriarchy, there's really a big investment in keeping us separate, keeping us powerless and scared, and obviously, then very malleable. And I think it's a really interesting watching the journey of the concentration of power and wealth into the hands of the few, I mean, interesting in a horrific way, not in a good way. But I think all of that leads to this kind of national and international sense of insecurity around trade, finance, defense, availability of food, water and power resources. And I think all of this is exacerbated as well by the kind of people that we're electing these days for one thing, but also the non continuity of governance. We get one bunch of people for a few years and then we trade for a new bunch and they reinvent everything and we get scared all over again. And so that's the government kind of side of it, but also, we don't really have a stable job and income these days, it used to be that people had a job for life, now we're lucky if we can get a job after college. We got this, you know, the gig economy going, the fan culture where it's all about who you are, and we're expected to have not just multiple jobs, but multiple careers in a lifetime now. And I think what happens in all of that is there's very little loyalty either way now, employer, employee, contract, so however you wanna see it. That kind of longevity of relationship isn't anticipated anymore, so people don't invest in each other in a work environment very more. And that's resulted in us having cultural expectations at work to value productivity, innovation, problem solving and all of those things over humanity. And obviously feeding into all of this insecurity about jobs is the speed of technological and cultural change, ideas change, and then we had, "While I'm on the top of that COVID," didn't really help. And I think behind this there are a sort of community level difficulties as well, we don't have the same reliance in religion as past generations had. And that religious kind of aspect of communities provided a framework, those people who lived in those frameworks knew what the conditions were for belonging and approval. And even in religious wars, people knew what they stood for, they stood for something bigger than themselves, and man needs this 'cause we need meaning and purpose, we need cohesion and belonging. And it's the same a little bit in communities, for generations, humans stayed in one place, often the place they were born, it was familiar, it was comfortable. And we become very partial to that life. When we have little habits on our desk at work, we put all our things on the desk, to make us feel at home. Again, we know where we stand, what to expect, we knew who we could rely on in those days where there was a stronger community. Now, of course, we got this media, a completely different filter on information from the world, and the part that we should play in it, individualism is now a success. Referring again, back to the divide and conquer mode of governance, and it kinda gives rise to a polarization and attitudes about the different ness of others. And I think that this lends itself to racism and phobias and all of that, and then of course, we feel separate, we feel lonely, we feel unvalidated and unseen in our lack of integration and belonging into community. So we stop being able to connect through our hearts, open up to our sense of relationship with others, and we stop expecting or even looking for a deep connection. And I think radical views are one of the results of this, but also where we have no real sense of connection and belonging, we also have a diminished need to play by the rules, it's everyone for themselves, except we're not actually connecting with ourselves either, we've forgotten how, we don't get taught that, that's not the expectation. And so I think what contributes all of this is what contributes to the rise of mass shootings, increase in domestic violence, addiction, suicide, I don't think they're spontaneous happening or idiopathic happenings, for me. And leading on from community, most of us don't live near to our family of origin either, any more either, and we wouldn't have been raised by a village and indeed we wouldn't have very much contact with our roots at all many of us. Often intentionally in this kind of cult of the individual we've got going now, they don't call them roots for nothing, they were our fundamental source of strength and integrity at one time. And even now look at the rise of family splits and divorce, and again, this kind of cultural divisiveness, we are really these days expected to over perform to excel alone. And the impact that's had on parenting, parents overburdened with the shoulds of parenting in a completely unprecedented way. Parents are becoming super anxious, both in their own lives and also in how they think about themselves as parents. And that anxiety just spreads, it's kind of contagious, and we live in a culture that predisposes helicopter parenting, insecurity, inadequacy, we've kind of got Olympic levels of compare and despair about parenting. So when we think about all of those fundamental kind of environmental factors for us, here we are, we're in this unstable and disunited, or maybe I just mean actually demented their world, and it's governed essentially by ego. Okay, that's what's happening, that's how humans are right now, that's how the human race is right now, afraid, and all at once grabbing for power and safety. And I see this where I live in COVID, where the construction industry here is going broke, mostly because of the effects of COVID. Every second house has been renovated, as if we could provide ourselves some kind of security and stability from that. So, okay, given this unholy mess we're in now, it isn't surprising that there's a burnout pandemic. It's really an expression of mass helplessness and fear and loss of control. So If that's you, I want you to know it's not your fault if you're scared or if you are overwhelmed, if your thoughts are a bit panicky or resentful or anxious, or dreading. You're dreading getting up to face your day. I really present some of that information about lack of safety here, because it's so important for us to recognize that we are the product of what we know about the world, and the world is just this hotbed of anxiety inducing stimuli right now. We're being trained into being anxious, ADHD, obsessive and all of that. So now that we have kind of gone over that, and I know that's a little bit painful, I find it painful, even thinking about it for myself. But I think it's so necessary just to not put the whole burden of this on us as an individual. But anyway, now, let's come back to safety, shall we? In a minute, we're just gonna talk about safety because if unsafety is we don't trust others when we don't trust ourselves, it's kind of looking for safety outside of us in our environment, in the acceptance and approval of others. Actually, what we really want in unsafety is we want somebody outside of us to come and rescue us 'cause we don't think we can do it. So the antidote is paradoxically not to look for outside of ourselves for trust but to trust ourselves more, and then we're naturally going to be less affected by fear, and we will kind of open up just enough to start trusting the basic goodness of life a little bit more. And we will be able to rest in the present moment a little bit more instead of the past, which is depressive thinking and the future, which is anxious thinking. We will come back to the present moment a little bit, it'll be a little bit more comfortable for us to be there. And in the present moment, it's very rare that anything has actually gone wrong. Normally, we are worried about the future or what's happened in the past, because unsafety is actually a feeling. We interpret what's happening in the world with our thoughts, don't we? So negative thoughts lead us into fear and trigger our fight or flight, which all by itself exacerbates that fear, makes it continue. We watch the news and we worry what might happen, we see laws change and worry about loss of rights. And yes, I am thinking about abortion laws. We see gun laws not changing and we worry about the safety of our children and all the rest. But safety, the feeling of safety, actually becomes unavailable to us because now we're in fear, now we're constantly stimulated by the news to worry about the future incessantly, and we're trapped in a fear cycle. But here's what I think. What if we're more powerful than that? What if we've got more inside us than that? Because positive thoughts on the other hand, lead to a sense of security and well being. Not kind of head in the sand, tra la la, nothing is wrong kind of well being, but more whatever is happening, I have the inner mental and emotional strength and resources to handle it. Because what if we can develop an internal sense of well being and that leads on to de escalating our reaction to what's happening in the world, instead of blowing it up out of all sides. We're human, right? We're equipped to survive a great deal of adversity. We're kind of lucky that way, because the world is really, when you think about it, it's always been turbulent. There's always been war, famine, plague, disaster, etcetera. We're all gonna die, that's not changed. So instead of seeing ourselves as primarily weak and prone to emotional collapse, we can start seeing ourselves as primarily strong, able to rise to the challenges of life and even grow from them. And what I will teach right now is I'll go through some practical ways to do that. So it all rests on your relationship with yourself, fundamentally, to create safety inside of ourselves, we have to be unconditionally loving, accepting, supporting, kind, gentle, appreciative and caring towards ourself, just to name a few. We need to be our own best friend, and we need to find ways to make it safe for us to be a human being, and the easiest and best way to do that is in our relationship with ourself. So I'll just talk a little bit about some of ways that we can in fact do that. And I think the first thing is that we don't think we can do, but we actually can is, you can choose to tame your reactive thinking. When you wake up in the morning, if that's the time when you feel dread and anxiety and worry, just journal and meditate the worries out of you. Just kinda get the poison out of you onto paper or disburse it in your energy, instead of reaching for your phone, which is gonna make the worry worse. Also, you can retire your inner critic, and probably you might be a bit skeptical about that if you're completely on fire, like mine was in burnout, but the thoughts we have in our head are not outside our control. So the inner critic is just your thoughts. And the stream of thoughts is involuntary, you'll always have thoughts going through your head, but you don't have to believe them. So if a criticism comes up, you can just agree with yourself that you're not going to use that weapon against yourself any more. You can decide not to believe the thought and to choose a better one instead, and that's one of the practices that we work on a great deal in coaching. So if you are leaning towards coaching for your burnout, then one of the big upsides is retiring your inner critic. And the next thing, kind of the same, is don't listen to so much news, because the stress cycle of engaging with news non stop, doom scrolling becomes kind of addictive to our systems and it's also quite self destructive. Instead, kind of one of the things you can do is take moments in your day to notice the tiny successes you have each and every day, but overlook regularly, 'cause you won't be looking out for them. Well, choose to look out for them, choose to celebrate yourself for the tiniest little thing, even if you just smiled at somebody, or even half smiled at somebody. Even if you did somebody a tiny favor or completed a job that you wanted to complete. Really celebrate yourself on purpose. In writing, I recommend. And kind of the way that I might look is, you can just reward yourself for getting any task done in that superhero way you do. Just take a few minutes' break to breathe, move, look out of the window, listen to a tune, and be deliberately, intentionally nice to yourself. And while we're on that, breath work very much helps with anxiety and stress, because it has a relationship with our autonomic nervous system, our fight and flight system. When we take really deep slow breaths, that's a signal to our body, to our nervous system, that we're in safety, because when we're running away from a the tiger, we're not gonna be taking deep breaths, are we? So, those deep, slow breaths are a real signal to our system to slow down, puts us back into parasympathetic. And although it may not make worry go away, when you give your body that safety signal, you do lower the physical responses to stress, like your heart rate, your blood pressure, and all of that. Another way to diffuse worry, we all know about this, but sometimes we don't do it, particularly if we feel guilty, share your worries with someone else, or even with your pets, if you don't want to tell anybody. And also, being in the room with somebody else who is feeling safety also synchronises our autonomic nervous system, our ANS, and that's something that happens subconsciously when we're around somebody who feels safe, then we automatically feel a bit safer, too. So, it can have a double effect. And the next thing for all you Negoski fans, complete the feeling cycle. So, this is all about feeling all the way through an emotion, it's going all the way through the tunnel of an emotion, until you've completed and allowed the energy of that emotion to release from your body. And I've heard it described, I think it might have been by the Negoski, it's like two ducks fighting on a pond. When they have finished their aggressive display, as they're swimming away, they shake all of their feathers just to release the energy of that aggression. And again, it signals to your nervous system to calm down. So really, making a choice to feel your fear, your worry, your anger or irritation, instead of blocking it down and letting it fester inside, is a very powerful way of releasing ongoing anxiety and tension. Okay, now we get to my favorite, practice championing yourself. And if you want to know how to do this, listen to Episode 36 on championing yourself, it explains the whole thing. But basically, a champion is a person who vigorously supports, or defends, so, you can vigorously support and defend yourself. Ask yourself, how can you have your own back right now? Recognize the good that you're doing or trying to do. Think about your why, and it could be that you're doing all these things, because you're trying to pay the bills or support your family, or save for a trip to see your mom. Any why is valid. Don't argue with yourself about it. It's okay to be you. It's okay to want what you want. It's okay to be working the way you're working. It's okay to be feeling the way you're feeling. Find little ways to show yourself that you matter to yourself. Listen really to what your mind and body need and try to give it a little bits of that. Really it's about making decisions consciously in support of yourself, even if that's not been your habit up until now, really stand up for yourself. And also, on the same vein, notice when you're people pleasing. Maybe if you wanna know a bit more about people pleasing, listen to Episode 22, and how to overcome it, it's easier than you think, and it works better for both you and the other person. So, all these habits of championing yourself work, because you're mending a broken relationship with yourself. And you're gonna know it's broken, if you currently have no idea who you really are or what you like doing. You feel disconnected, alone, not belonging, and probably unappreciated. And if that's true for you, then really it's time to offer yourself a new level of love and support and care and appreciation. And you can learn to belong to yourself, which will create the sense of belonging. Whatever it is you like, give it to yourself. Just listen to yourself. And I call it championing myself, because I kinda see this knight on a white charger coming to rescue you, and it's me, I am that knight. So, whoever your hero is, become that to yourself. What would that person do for you? And above all, really just choose to have your own back, with infinite kindness, because it's actually your birthright to be worthy. Be randomly kind to yourself, at any time. Appreciate yourself, pay yourself compliments, and if you feel like it, pay other people compliments, too. Do this all the time. And finally, think about the child in you, because that's the one who's suffering most in burnout. Burnout is really the expression of the little kid inside, who doesn't feel safe and needs adult support. And you now can be both the adult and the child, so when you do this, you just find the kid inside of you crying out for help, and treat them the same as you would your own children, or if you don't have any, then somebody else close to you children. Comfort them, tell them you're going to support them, and that it's gonna be okay, that they are okay with you, and that you aren't mad with them. And if you think you can't do this, or if you think it's bunkum, just try it anyway. Try the exercise when you're anxious, particularly if you're in a private place like a home, not in the office, and ask yourself what age the kid is inside of you, who's scared right now? And if you can find that age, then there's gonna be a memory coming along with it, frozen in time inside you. You already have the power to tend to and to heal that traumatised child. Well, unless it's actually if it's PTSD style, big T trauma, if that's the case, then I suggest you go and find a mental health professional to help you with your healing process. And that's not a judgment, it's just that the regulating the nervous system in PTSD can be quite difficult to manage by yourself. But for other, if you like, difficult memories from childhood, you can do it yourself. You can comfort the child. You can ask the child what they need and you can in some way. So I think the foundation here to rescue your burnout self, when the world around you isn't going to change, by creating your internal safety. And I've given you a number of ways of doing that today, because really, you can't starve yourself to death and expect the world to nourish you. That's not really how energy works. But when you feed yourself, you build up the strength you need to be in this world as it is. So, that's what I've got for you today. I've given you a number of steps you can take here, just practical steps to create a little bit of your own safety. You can experiment with those. Thank you very much for listening today. I appreciate you being here. If you're in burnout, you must come and talk to me about how to recover quickly and sustainably, and get back to your best performance and enjoyment inside working out. And I can help you with all of the things that I've talked about today, which will create a stable platform for you to recover from burnout. 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.