Burnout Recovery

Ep#71 The Emptiness Inside

March 23, 2023 Dex Randall Season 2 Episode 71
Burnout Recovery
Ep#71 The Emptiness Inside
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

As burnout progresses, you might feel more and more empty inside as you progressively shut down the painful parts inside of you, until there's not much left functioning. If so, no wonder you're feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and isolated.

Listen here to understand how we fall into the black hole of emptiness in burnout and discover the antidote. I talk about how to relate with your merciless inner critic in a way that defuses the pain and makes room for a fuller, richer experience of life.

If you forgot who you are and what you like doing, this one's for you.

Ask yourself the 3 vital questions if you feel empty.
Try one simple yet profound exercise that will help.

As always, I will say that burnout is temporary and fixable, and you CAN have your mojo back. A deeper sense of connection is waiting for you.

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Hi, everyone. My name's 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 we are on we three of the series on protecting the asset. You and I created the series of four episodes because really in burnout we're not great at protecting ourselves are we? We've squandered our assets, we've left them lying out on the yard in the rain, neglecting our own well being. And regardless of how shitty things are at work, we've probably made them feel worse inside of us. And I don't say that to be mean. I still think you're a wonderful talented worthy human. But if you want to recover from burnout, I reckon you've been using the wrong tools for the job. And I'm talking about everyone in burnout here because we all contribute to or even compound our own misery in burnout by not championing ourselves and not giving ourselves the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual nourishment that we need. If you're in burnout and you don't think that applies to you, I would really love for you to come and tell me why. Go to dexrandall.com and schedule a chat with me please. Anyhow, whatever's happening for you if you're in burnout particularly I think you deserve better care than you've been getting. I think you deserve more success, happier relationships and more fun and contentment. And my friend, you can have it. Your mojo will return. So first of all today we've gotta clean up the yard a bit. We'll talk for a moment about the emptiness inside and then we'll talk about how to work with it. So what is this emptiness inside? We might feel any of these following things. Lonely, alone, not belonging, withdrawn, separate, isolated, left out, abandoned, starved, worthless, under supported, under appreciated, perhaps imposter, angry, needy neglected or not showing up how we want to at work and at home. And really I got quite a lot of those in my emptiness inside when I was in burnout. And I started to look into the dynamic of, okay how did that emptiness get created? And I really think of emptiness as disconnection. Fundamentally really I think disconnection from ourselves and from our spirits. And I think how this breaks down is we either have no love or conditional love for ourselves and therefore probably for others. We actively withhold love and connection maybe from shame, fear, inadequacy. And when we do withhold it might manifest as blame or judgment of others or perhaps as aloofness or arrogance. And then we're genuinely... We're gonna be covering all that up. We're gonna be hiding our genuine nature in order to defend or deny these imagined flaws that we see in ourselves. Then we're gonna suppress our emotions 'cause they're painful and then we're gonna shut down. And it's also there is this lack of spiritual connection, connection to God or faith, a higher power to the universe even, the living force that animates all life. We feel disconnected from this universal energy flow. Our planet, wildlife, our people, forests, mountains, oceans, we feel separate from that flow. And I think that's a big part of the emptiness. And then because of all of this we feel stuck. The emptiness inside is like a vacuum. It's like a black hole we fall into. We kinda get sucked in and parts of us seem to just disappear. Our fractured parts stop working together and we lack a sense of wholeness. And then I think also there's an expression of kind of vacancy about this emptiness. Our body exists in the world but really there's no one home. Our eyes, if you look into them, look a bit dead. Or quite often when we've got that, we don't meet people's eyes at all. We don't make eye contact. And you know, a lot of this is describing my own experience. And you may have something slightly different but I think when I talk about the emptiness inside, if you're in burnout you probably get what I mean. So what I'm gonna do now is I'm gonna describe a person and I'm gonna ask you a question after this description. So let's say you meet a person who is stuck in emptiness in a black hole. They're not creating community engagement, fulfillment and reward. They're not aligned with their own values. And so they're not generating passion. They're probably doing lip service at work and hating it. And they're probably saying yes to everyone but still unable to deliver on that, unable to give people what they want. So this is in terms of colleagues, bosses, clients but also family friends, partners. They're probably feeling bitter, cynical, resentful, blaming others for their misery. They're probably living in a lot of fear. And I think fear can be of many things. Fear of death, obviously the primary fear, fear of failure and rejection. Judgment, ostracism that's a good one. Fear of job loss. There's probably a string of fears going on there. And fear of relationship loss as well. Usually when people come to me they report that they're worried about their partners and family. And then of course dissociating from their own experiences, ignoring their own needs and emotions. And then they criticise themselves for being in this predicament. And I think this results in quite a profound shutting down, being barely present to life, hidden away, withdrawn and essentially in some respects, unreachable. So if you met somebody like the person I've just described, what would you say to such a person? Think about that for a minute. If you were eye balling them right now, what would you say to them? For myself, I would tell them that their condition, however painful, is not the real them. They're not broken, only misguided. It's temporary and it's fixable. Uppermost for me I think would be love and compassion for the person. I would want to hug them to be honest, if I could see them in so much pain, too much pain to bear and yet taking no action to fix it. How about you? And think about it. If you were that person, if that was your predicament. This is not a far cry from burnout what I've just described. Anyway, luckily that person that I did describe back then is probably my ideal client. If they've shut down in burnout, well you know of course they feel in all those ways. And the program I run supports those people back to a more vibrant and enjoyable existence. So I'd really probably invite them in to come and have a talk with me. And so if that sounds like you and you are prompted to do this, please do come and talk to me at dexrandall.com. But today let's go through an exercise for self writing. You can do it as you listen, of course if you're not driving or doing something like that. You might wanna write the answers to these questions down. So perhaps something to write on, because emptiness inside is really a signal that you need more love. And you might think you need this from other people or from the outside world but really it indicates that your relationship with yourself is fractured and it's not nourishing you enough. And all of that becomes very, very fatiguing. I see that most of the... Because I see when people recover, how their energy returns and what the patterns are, I see that much of the exhaustion of burnout is at in fact emotional exhaustion. Like you are constantly starving or depleted, looking around constantly for things to make you feel better. No surprise really because in burnout we do tend to ignore our own needs, neglect ourselves, criticise ourselves and starve ourselves of care. That's a pattern common to burnout. So to help you work skilfully with that if that's what's happening for you, there are three questions to ask yourself. And the first two are, how do I want to feel, and what should other people do to create this feeling for me? Feel free to have a stab at that if you've got something to write on. How do I want to feel? What should other people do to create this feeling for me? For example, if you want to feel safe, maybe you think other people should make you feel safe by giving you kind attention and approval every day. Which brings me to the third question, what could you do to fulfill your own need yourself? In this case maybe, how about you could give yourself kind attention and approval every day just like you want it from other people? Or let's say you wanted to feel calm and maybe you think other people should stop pressing your buttons, get off your case and stop demanding things from you. Well, how about if you stop pressing your own buttons, get off your own case and stop demanding things from yourself that you don't have the energy to do. I think you're seeing how this works. Whatever you want from other people, supply it to yourself. It's perfectly possible. Do this really intentionally and do it with unconditional love, as much love as you can muster for yourself. And there might be a little bit of resistance pop up in almost anybody who's in burnout who hears that. So first, it's easiest to want to do this exercise when you can suspend your self criticism and self judgment, okay? So here's an idea. First look at yourself, an adult in extreme misery, as the Buddhist teacher, Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche says, "Rest in natural great peace. This exhausted mind, beaten helplessly by karma and neurotic thoughts like the relentless fury of the pounding waves in the infinite ocean of samsara. Rest in natural great peace." So if you can see or get a sense of your inner child who's suffering also. I mean, for me seeing little Dex having a tough time, any tough time makes it easy to feel compassion and care for myself, both the child and the adult still suffering, still creating more suffering than needs to be there as an adult from my self criticism. So what I do is I try and contact the adult in suffering and the child in suffering to see which can evoke a little piece of compassion in me and gentleness in me and care in me. And oh, I did it then. I usually put my hand on my heart in this exercise because the touch, just that physical sign of care has all by itself a soothing effect on the nervous system. And it does also convey a good intention. But it's okay. If you are unable to connect with the child or the adult, if you are unable to evoke compassion, then simply breathe a few deep breaths, following the breath through your body from your mouth or nose down your throat all the way down to the abdomen. And as you're taking those deep breaths, they signal some calmness to the nervous system. And while you're doing it, you can silently wish your tortured self well anyway, even though you can't contact those things. And then what you do is keep coming back to this exercise each day with an open and curious mind about how it's going to feel, and with a willingness to offer connection to yourself. In those times when I can evoke compassion in myself, then when I notice a critical thought coming up, I recognise it as essentially having a protective intention. It's telling me what I'm doing wrong so I don't do it again and suffer even more. So if you hear those critical thoughts coming up, if you can detect them in yourself, when your inner critic fires up, if you can see it and hear it, then you don't need to fight it or suppress it, just listen and thank it for coming, for trying to help you. But then tell it you are gonna take it from here. You don't need to do what it says, and then offer yourself deep affection, acknowledgement, acceptance for everything. You are the whole bundle. Offer yourself all the love you need as much as you possibly can. And I think to do this the easiest way is to use the words that came up in your questions. How do I want to feel? How should other people create this feeling for me? Offer yourself the words that will cultivate the feeling that you want. For example, I might say to myself, I put hand on my chest, I might say to myself, "Okay you are safe now in this moment. You can rest because I've got your back. I will take care of you." And notice if you are able to do that, that at the beginning of this practice, the inner you the one that's used to being yelled at may not instantly receive the love and feel better. Persist, practise every day and give that frightened inner self time to adjust, time to trust you and unfurl a little bit and start to receive. I promise you, with time and practice you can overcome your habit of self criticism and experience a gentler, kinder intention, more supportive and encouraging. Like any habit, it does take time. But maybe consider the payoff. Even if you diffuse one single critical thought, you're starting to break a pattern that may have been very dominant for you, very loud in your head, but and at the same time you're reviving your love and care for yourself, the self who feels abandoned. So that's what I have for you today. Please don't just listen to this. Please, please practise. And I'll be back next time with the fourth episode in this series about doing the work that you love. Thank you so much for your time and attention today. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate and review the podcast. I really appreciate that. And if you're in burnout and you want to get out, listen for the link at the end. Come and talk to me about how to recover quickly and sustainably to get back to your best performance, leadership and most of all enjoyment inside work now. If you are 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.

Protecting yourself in burnout
Emptiness Inside
Working with emptiness
Exercise - the 3 questions to ask
Protecting Yourself from Burnout
Connecting with Your Inner Child
Breathing and Offering Yourself Compassion
Overcoming Self-Criticism
Breaking the Pattern of Self-Criticism