Controlling the Narrative is often touted as a desirable outcome.
But is it?
Certainly, when we're experiencing burnout, it has some appeal! We hope - usually in vain - that others will overlook our sketchy performance, surliness and teamwork fails. Perhaps they will give us the benefit of the doubt?
In this episode, let's explore the dynamics of controlling the narrative and consider what the alternatives might be. I can recommend a much less stressful way to create a sense of safety - one that does not rely on the co-operation of others.
Ep#33 I Can't Do It
Ep#26 Helpless Rage
Ep#13 Other People's Opinions
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G'day, my friends.
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This is Dex.
Thank you for joining me today.
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I really do appreciate you listening in and it's a lovely sunny day in Sydney.
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It's kind of the start of spring.
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I've been out in a surf ski on the harbor earlier on this morning and it was just glorious and warm and pleasant. Anyhow
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now, here I am with you for this week's episode on Controlling the Narrative, which I really hear a lot lately as a desirable outcome and I'm covering this topic here because when a person experiences burnout, they may simultaneously feel some enormous urge to control the narrative about them.
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And this really stems from their perception of their own failure, loss of social status and vulnerability.
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But bluntly, I think in burnout, we'd love other people not to notice our failures or lose confidence in us.
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Sack us, demote us, sideline us, ignore us or fail to appreciate the inherent marvel of our professional abilities as they perhaps once were because the truth is we've lost so much confidence in ourselves that we're freaking out all day long in case other people notice how bad things have got with us, right?
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So controlling the narrative then is aspirational in a, a self protective way, but it can become an obsession, worrying about what everyone else is thinking and saying about us.
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But you know, to be honest, I'm a terrible party pooper.
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And today, what I'm gonna do is debunk a couple of the myths about it and suggest some alternatives that might be more useful to you.
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You see, I think in our increasingly insecure, disenfranchised and disconnected culture where many of us feel lonely and separate, sitting out there like a shag on a rock, you know, controlling the narrative is a phrase becoming more and more prevalent.
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I actually don't know when it entered the vernacular, but I do think it's been taken up with some gusto and I think if you are using that one yourself, maybe today, I can shed a slightly different light on it and thereby control your narrative.
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Ha ha ha anyhow.
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So to start with, let's, let's try for a definition of the term and I found one here which says to shape or influence the way a story or situation is perceived or understood by others.
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It's so interesting, isn't it that the human mind really regards everything as story?
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We're actually fundamentally not that excited about facts.
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We're much more in love with seeing the world according to our own understanding of views.
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Your life is a story and you're his main character.
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And I think you know that story thing is really partly an evolutionary feature, the way we interpret our world underpins survival, social integration status, respect reputation.
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But of course, it also has to do with ego.
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Our ego is very heavily invested in being right all the time having other people endorse our rightness, which gives us a sense of safety, well being and in fact, sometimes superiority.
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So controlling the narrative is really attempting to control the way people think about you normally, especially in burnout, it's giving them your interpretation of the world in an effort to manipulate them into sharing it, ask any pol politician or any narcissist.
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And here, when I'm talking about this, of course, there's an element of perhaps persuasive intent in my sharing this podcast episode.
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But I think of it as a way to investigate is an invitation to explore the dynamics of something we think we see one way and maybe we aren't seeing it in a way that's very helpful to us.
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So what I'm inviting you to do here is really consider the things I'm saying.
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And if they shape your view of controlling the narrative in a direction that supports you and your life experience, OK.
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So, you know, when perhaps the extreme end of controlling a narrative is spin doctors and we think, you know, spin doctors can sometimes prevail and in the current society of mass induced gullibility, they might do that with increasing frequency and regrettably large effect.
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But not always.
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And of course, in controlling the narrative, we'd have to include gas lighting.
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That's an example of it.
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And at this point, let's highlight that manipulative people, people who will want to control the NAGA, the, the narrative are in fact scared people, they're people with typically cripplingly low self esteem.
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Another personal trait that's been on the rise.
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I think this millennium and those people will seek, you know, they'll need to build themselves up and put others down just to feel moderately ok about themselves.
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They can't really blame them.
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It's, it's a coping mechanism for the deficit that they find inside themselves.
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So in a society of learned helplessness and rampant self judgment or self attack, this behavior is really bound to become more of a norm to think about it.
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Unfortunately, though even if controlling the narrative is successful, any fleeting sense of relief or safety can't be sustained.
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It's like taking one breath straight away.
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You need to take another.
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It's an external dependency that feeds our perceived lack of control.
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And the difficulty really with controlling the narrative is that for most of us, we can't, we're not good enough at spin.
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Oh For those of us in burnout, the tangible visible evidence of our failures lie undeniable all around us and defeat can be witnessed in our demeanor when our internal condemnation leaks onto our faces into our speech, bearing and actions.
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When our stress is full on chronic inescapable.
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We really tell tales on ourselves, don't we?
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So I think really to recap on controlling the narrative, I see it as a consequence of societal conditions that are driving poor self image and social disconnection.
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And then we're vainly trying to seek safety outside of ourselves.
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This urge to control the narrative.
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It doesn't say anything good about our internal state.
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Also, it's manipulate manipulative.
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It might not make us any friends.
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It often doesn't work.
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And also our whip dog energy in burnout particularly gives us away a little bit.
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And lastly, it doesn't yield sustainable well-being or sense of safety or connection in reality.
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What we're doing in burnout in kind of a desperate way is trying to make things right on the outside because we failed to make them right on the inside of ourselves.
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We want other people to rally round round, rally around us and support us because we feel unable to rescue ourselves.
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So, I mean, no wonder that feeling is scary.
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So let's look at this a little bit more.
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Let's take a single person.
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We're trying to convince if we're trying to control the narrative, we're trying to get that person to see things our way.
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Unfortunately, we have no access to the majority of their, let's say 6000 or so thoughts that they have every day based on their existing beliefs about people, values and the world beliefs, they may have may have held more or less their whole lives.
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And they may see as the absolute truth of things.
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Then very few of those 60,000 or so thoughts are conscious maybe about 5% for them.
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And even, and even then a very few of those thoughts ever emerge as spoken words, maybe around 6000 a day or up to 10,000.
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So really, we've got precious little idea of what they're thinking about us or about anything else, no matter how much we think we know what they're thinking.
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So already, really, I think we're swimming against the tide then comes the investment that person has in being, right, just like you do, right?
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Their ego will demand this of them.
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So it's pretty hard to change a person's mind, let alone change everyone's mind or an office full of people's minds.
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So I'm having a vision of, you know, of AAA person in burnout at work desperately trying to persuade someone that things are fine that they're on it.
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I'm seeing the worry lines around their eyes, the strange smile and feeling the clench of their stomach.
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And if that sounds like you at work and you're trying to control the narrative, ask yourself how that's working out for you.
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What does that yield for you?
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Because in my experience, it's a strategy that's a bit last ditch.
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It certainly didn't work for me, didn't convince me or anyone else for a kickoff.
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And also my inner critic had a head start of several hours each day to grind my self esteem down to dust before I even made it to the office.
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And that's why I dreaded work every day, dreaded every encounter with every person in case they judge me.
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And it hurt just like I judge myself.
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And also really, that's why I do the work that I do now having experienced all this, the same excruciating dilemma when I was burned out.
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You know, there's, there's very little future in it.
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There's very little hope available.
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And I think that's one of the scary parts, but here's what I've discovered, you know, since then, my burnout was quite a long time ago now, maybe about six years, seven years.
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But you can transcend all of these and all of the other difficulties of burnout because there's still plenty of good inside you.
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You can turn off the fire hose of negativity that cramps your mood and performance and energy so badly.
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And I can teach you how to do this.
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It's a step by step, reliable method just to break some old habits and infuse some kind of chill new ones that don't more productive and more enjoyable.
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So imagine for you, what if you could wake up without the barrage of self criticism each morning?
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What if you could arrive at work composed, relaxed, self assured.
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What if you'd forgotten all about your need to control the narrative?
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Because now you just feel secure.
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What if work became a series of interesting challenges rather than a deluge of insoluble problems, unanswered demands, people not satisfied.
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And I think for a person who burn out sometimes that sounds like a bit of a miraculous dream, a bit of a mirage.
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But it isn't.
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I was this huge, big fat mess in burnout.
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I won't deny it.
I, I was in a horrible state and I managed to turn it all around and then I learned how to help other people turn it around and step back out into the sunshine, basically, which is still shining out there.
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I help good people, people with skills, intelligence, fundamentally a good heart.
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Am I right?
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Somewhere in there, I still believe in you and I can help you recover and live in a world where you don't need to control the narrative because it isn't negative.
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So if you want that for yourself, if you want to enjoy life, enjoy work, enjoy family, enjoy the remainder of your career, see good things in your future, be able to go to work every day with some enthusiasm without worrying yourself into a frazzle and being grumpy and, and a mean spirited that comes with burnout.
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If you want all of those things, then come and talk to me at dex Randall dot com.
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And if that sounds a bit unfeasible to you, come and have a chat anyway, because I'm not in the habit of promising anything.
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I can't deliver.
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That's not how I roll.
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And when you and I talk together, we're gonna review all of the things that are troubling you, all of the things that aren't going well for you at work and at home and we'll simply make a plan to fix them.
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And when we make that plan, I will guarantee it if we're suitable.
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If we're compatible, you and I will discover this on the call.
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And if we are and we make a plan and I will guarantee that you will recover from burnout.
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It really, it's much easier to aim some of your energy at reversing the inner dialogue than the outer.
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Maybe the narrative you need to control is the one inside your head.
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And it's a lot easier to work with that than you might imagine that I don't care how habitual its negativity is how long that's been going on.
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It's fixable amongst all of the other tools.
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I, I work with a very broad range of tools in burnout recovery.
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Each one addressing a specific symptom or difficulty that occurs in burnout, a whole slew of tools.
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So one of them is working with the inner critic and managing a sense of safety and a sense of well-being and a sense of self assurance at work.
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So 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, leadership and most of all enjoyment inside work and out.
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And if you enjoyed this episode, please help me reach more people in burnout by subscribing rating and reviewing the podcast.
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I really appreciate that.
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And if you know someone else who's heading towards or in burnout, please send them the podcast link.
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As you may know, it's full of practical concepts and tools to combat burnout.
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And I recommend that new listeners start with the first five episodes.
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So thank you very much for your time today.
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Come and talk to me if you're in burnout and I wish you all the best.