One of my clients asked me last week how to start giving himself approval. It's a great question, because in burnout we're pretty mean to ourselves and, as a result, constantly seek external approval. A painful quest, huh?
So it's helpful to understand this typical burnout pattern and exactly how to resolve it.
When performance at work isn't great and our self-esteem is flat-lining, it's a great time to have our own back. It may sound flippant to "be our best ally", but listen in for how to do it authentically and with a warmth and compassion that actually feels good.
Everyone deserves to recover from burnout and feel worthy and cared for.
If you're ready to quit burnout and take your leadership skills to the next level, join the Burnout to Leadership program. Prepare for an eye-opening transition from the torture of burnout to a powerful, positive and rewarding future.
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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, and welcome to the podcast. This week, we are talking about worthiness and self-approval. The reason I am putting these two together today is that really, in burnout, we are pretty low on self-approval, aren't we? The cause of this really is a devalued sense of worth or worthiness. We really need to rebound from there before we can do much more work. In order to make a really effective recovery from burnout, we actually need to like ourselves and find ourselves worthy of our own care first of all. Really, you won't recover from burnout without these. They are the fundamental building blocks of recovery. One of my clients asked me last week how to give himself self-approval. He asked me how to begin doing that. What could he do? If, like him, you are screwing your face up a bit at the very thought, then this one is for you. I believe in you, I believe in your worthiness and I am backing you 100% to succeed. Let's start here right. Let's really face up to the truth a bit. I think Burnout is the condition of learned self-neglect Sounds a little bit harsh. What do you reckon? Those of us predisposed to burnout excellent, smart, capable people who are driven as adults by a constant need for approval we very likely didn't receive the full, unconditional approval, the attention and support that we would have liked as youngsters. As such, we never really found ourselves worthy of support. If that's true, then what we've actually been taught is not to support ourselves adequately. Now, in burnout, we are supporting ourselves nearly enough, even though we might not be aware of that. We might just think it's normal to be that way. This is just how professionals behave analytical, clinical, basically turning off our emotional side. Hence we get this level of unconscious self-neglect. I don't think it's conscious. We don't probably know that we're doing it. It might be commonplace amongst us, but really it sure isn't normal or healthy for humans. We're not going to be able to thrive that way. I'd really love for you to start thriving. You really do deserve it, I'm sure. As a side note, the rise of so-called toxic work cultures comes from this kind of casual neglect of human needs. If you're a leader, I hope you're going to turn up the burners of this open empowerment towards both yourself and your teams, so everyone can rise together. If you would, by the way, like to expand your leadership skills, particularly so that your team can work and perform willingly and creatively and successfully, then have a listen to the podcast, episodes 65 through to 68, which are all about leadership. Anyhow, coming back to being conditioned to self-neglect, because really I think we do need to dig into it a little bit. Well, if that has happened to you in earlier life, it's not unusual, it's happened to very many of us it doesn't mean anything bad about you or negative about you. You're still a good person, a perfect person. So if you didn't get what you needed back, then it's just something to recognize and correct, not despair over. So, while some of us have experienced this degree of unhealed from earlier life, apart from that there's very little to be gained by thinking into resentment, blame or regret about it once for adults. Please be aware, of course, that if you've experienced trauma in early life, that's the exception, particularly if that trauma is unresolved and has resulted in PTSD or mental health challenges for you. That goes beyond the scope of coaching and this podcast. So if traumatic memories come up for you as you listen today, I strongly recommend that, rather than continue to listen here you seek whatever professional therapeutic support you need. For others, though, a lack of support in childhood can be compensated for with care in adulthood, and that's what I'd like to talk about today, because it's possible, it's available and you can do it. And, like Gabor Marte, I believe it's important to first recognize that our parents were not to blame. They were just parenting in a way. Their parents taught them, and they pretty surely will have done the best that they could given their own circumstances. Of course, parenting is a very hard task that each of us simply does our best with, and if you'd like to read a little bit more about this idea of blame-free parents and parenting, then you might like to read Gabor Marte's book the Myth of Norm. That said, by all means grieve your losses, whatever they may have been, but I do think there's not much in it for any of us to blame our parents anyway, because we can just get lost in anger and victimhood and give away our own capacity to heal, and that doesn't help us feel better. On the other hand, though, if parenting skills do pass down the generations, you can choose that. The buck stops here. You can commit to change in a way you support yourself and others because I don't think it's ever too late to do that. And once you realize that, once you realize all of this kind of picture of how, the way you're not entirely looking after yourself the way that you could, you've basically reached a very useful point in the burnout recovery process and the next step will have already become available to you. And even though that step might be uncomfortable or unfamiliar, it can unlock a new level of ease, confidence and function in your daily life. You can now learn to be your own champion. You can give yourself the support you've always wanted. It doesn't sound like it's going to work, but it does. So you can use some tools that I'm going to run through in a second to help yourself feel stronger, more capable, more confident and more cared for. That self-approval that you've been seeking every day outside of you from your boss, your partner, your family, your friends, your organization, your clients is and always has been available inside you. You just need to give yourself permission to support yourself in a really deliberate, compassionate and direct way every time that you need it, so that you can feel better. And on this topic, you might like to listen to episode 36 of the podcast on championing yourself. I'll go through a bunch of this in more detail there and a couple of other episodes. I'm going to put these in the show notes that'll help you prepare to do the work. One of those is episode 57 on uncertainty and anxiety, and one's episode, number 15, how to create change in your life. So, coming back to self-approval, then I'm going to talk here about, firstly, how to begin, how to begin with self-approval, and secondly, just how to give yourself that support and approval that you do need until you become your best ally, until you feel the warmth of that inside and you feel, start to feel more worthy, more confident, relaxed Enough to go out and function at your best without worrying too much about what other people are actually thinking. So let's look at that, then. How to start Until now, it's very possibly been beyond your conscious mind to even consider that you can support yourself more, nevermind how. So to begin, you're going to need to make a conscious choice. You all need to decide to do it, and then you need to commit to practicing until you get good at it. And if you're going to make that decision, you're going to need to be motivated perhaps somewhat motivated to reduce your own suffering, to liberate yourself from the level of anxiety you have about getting other people's approval at the moment. I'm sure you can think in many instances where you were desperate for that approval, all the while telling yourself you weren't going to get it. So this type of thing can come up, for example, when we have a new task to do. We're not really sure how to do it. We're a little bit scared of being judged in our bumbling attempts, so much so that we kind of freeze up and don't even start to do the work, thereby unfortunately securing the disapproval that we were so keen to avoid. So that's just one way it might come. So okay, you can see yourself in this pain. You will have some motivation to reduce pain. If that was enough, though, you would have already solved the problem. The strongest motivation for change, I think, comes from actively wanting to take care of yourself, wanting to bail yourself out with kindness. Every time you feel inadequate or you're failing, we feel guilty or helpless, you give yourself that gentle support, and, since you probably have this history of self-neglect, if you're in burnout, if you're going to give yourself self-approval now, you're going to have to find yourself worthy first of that support. So if you want to decide to champion yourself and be the support you always wanted, here's what I recommend. When you come up against a problem in work or life that you find distressing, pause and just go inside yourself. So literally just stop what you're doing for a moment, take a real deep breath in and follow that breath right down inside your body and then just notice how you feel in your body. Notice any tension or blocks or tightness in there and also, while you're there, notice the anxious thoughts or the fearful thoughts that are going through your mind. Notice, if you can, what you're saying to yourself about yourself, because it'll probably be a little bit mean. Then you can consider, when you've got that okay, who do you think is experiencing or is distressed? Is it the professional adult in you? Or is it an older memory? Because mostly when we panic and freeze up in distress, it's habitual and then it comes up we say something mean about ourselves that we learn much earlier in life. Typically that's what happens, and when that memory is evoked we go straight back there to that era, to a time when we felt unworthy. We felt less than we've, often attacked rather than comforted in our distress, and maybe we can even recall when this was, what age we were when that happened. You know, in that memorable moment and if you can do that, imagine that younger you at that moment running towards you, arms flung out, so upset. What would you choose to do if you saw that kid running at you? Will you give them the approval, care and love they always wanted but didn't quite get? Will you tell your little self, whatever you think they need to hear. You're looking at that kid, thinking is that little soul worthy of your support? Will you champion them? Now, if you can't do that exercise, it's okay. You could also think about if you saw an adult in distress walking to you. What would you do. There are other things that you might do there too. But if you're looking at some version of yourself in suffering and you don't feel that you want to support them or you don't want to champion them, then the question to ask yourself is okay, maybe I don't, but what would make me willing to give that support? What would have to change, what would have to be thinking about that person for me to be willing to support them? What is the block there? What's preventing me from giving that care? Because what you're really asking yourself there is what are my conditions for approving of myself? Because this is why you start building the muscle of internal validation, right of having your own back. First of all, you need to become willing to do it, because when you do have your own back, particularly when you develop it as a consistent habit, there's a lot of joy and comfort in that, and that's a joy you're missing out on right now if you're not doing it. So really think about the pros and cons of finding yourself worthy of support and offering yourself whatever support you need in that moment. Sometimes it can help to think of somebody you really admire, some truly great person who's always so relaxed and self-assured, and think about them and think well, imagine how they deal with themselves if they aren't feeling good about themselves, if they think they've done something wrong, if they're guilty or ashamed or whatever. What do you think they, what do you think their process is, how do you think they work with that? You know, because the question really is how did they get to be so easygoing, so self-assured and confident, open, perhaps more resilient? If that, if their qualities you admire in that person, how do you think that person created them and also consider the downside. If you don't support yourself, if you choose not to consider the downside, what pain will you have to continue to have? Where are you limited because you're not giving yourself that support? Where are you failing to make progress in life, for example? And then also, what's the upside if you do choose to support yourself, what would change for you? So just compare and contrast those and see is what I'm doing now working for me? Would I like to change? What would I like to change too? So really investigate within yourself what you think will work better than whatever you're doing now. That doesn't feel good. So I think that's really how you will begin to arrive at a decision. If you can't find yourself worthy or you want to support yourself, then really do some deep thinking about why not? What does it think that blocks you from wishing to support yourself? It could be something like fear of being arrogant, or you don't think it's right to love yourself, or whatever your beliefs are about that. Really investigate them and see them and choose if you want to modify them a little bit, because you can, because they're your beliefs. So just see what comes up and see how to work with that to get a better result for yourself. Because really I think it's our job as an adult to support ourselves. It's not somebody else's task to do that. So if we can arrive at a decision to support ourselves, then the next question is well, how exactly do we do that? And I think the antidote to being a human doing, striving all day for approval, doing, doing, doing, doing for approval is to approve of yourself unconditionally before you do anything, just for breathing and being a decent human being. And if you decide to give yourself that approval, tell yourself every morning that you approve of yourself. When you're waking up, just do it right away off the bat. And then, every time you're suffering in uncertainty or doubt or worry or anxiety and adequacy or any of those things, anytime you're feeling a negative emotion, revisit that younger version of you if that worked for you, and give them what they need. Just ask yourself, what do I need right now? And give it. It'll take a little bit of time and practice to be good at that, but just when you ask the question, the answer might flash through your mind right away. So it feels a little bit weird when you're first doing it, but don't worry, nobody's looking right. This is a new gift to self that you can develop just by daily practice. You get better and better at it and over time what you'll find is that your relationship with yourself will evolve. It will soften, be more forgiving, warmer gentler. You're going to start to notice more things that you like and admire about yourself, things that perhaps you took for granted before, younger. You remember has survived some really difficult experiences, chances are, and is still willing to show up in the adult world doing their best. That's a little miracle of human triumph. Support that. So my client asked how to do this. Who asked how to do this had to really pass through some gates of understanding to realize why this might be a good thing to do. But he also sees that as a youngster he was told to basically man up and get the job done quietly, not to be emotional about it. But our emotions, you know and this is common a lot of people are brought up this way not to be emotional. But our emotions need to be felt and heard. They're one way our brains communicate with us. They have emotions, have a function to alert us to what we need to do to survive. For example, sometimes we need to be angry to protect ourselves. We need to be sad, to work through some grief. We need to be fearful something's happening or we need to be offended. So we take a stand or set boundaries. So having emotions is an irreducible human need. Attending to them is attending to our humanity. In effect, we're giving ourselves permission to be human as if there was any other choice right. So if it feels unusual to take this compassionate, self-affirming, supportive role, maybe you could suspend this belief for a little while. Just try it and see how you go. That's my best suggestion for today and because I truly care for you and your experience, and especially your burnout recovery, I would really recommend you do give it a world. It's private, nobody's looking. What harm can you do trying to give to yourself? And if you would like help with that, if you're in burnout, please listen to the link at the end of the episode. You must come and talk to me about how to recover quickly and sustainably and get back to your best performance, leadership, most of all, enjoyment inside, work and out. And if you enjoyed this episode, please help us reach more people in burnout by rating and reviewing this podcast. I would love that so much. And if you know somebody else who's heading towards or into burnout, please send them the link to this podcast too. I recommend that, for new people, listen to the first five episodes to get started. Okay, thank you for being here. I will catch you 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 burnoutdexroundcom. Just tell me what's bugging you and let's make a plan to fix it.