Sometimes in life, when we hit a low point in our own energy and start seeing problems everywhere, we feel like the world is against us.
It's understandable in our modern culture AND it can be a hard spot to bounce back from.
So today, let's take a look at why that might happen in burnout and the things we CAN do about that. There are plenty of those!
Burnout Recovery is a simple and reliable step-by-step process you can follow.
Would you like to do that?
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Dex (00:00:09) - 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 podcast friends, this is Dex and if you're subscribed to the podcast, which I secretly hope you are, that would be marvelous. You're going to detect a theme lately on feelings, so I will not surprise you when I welcome you to this week's episode on those appalling moments in life, well, sometimes even seasons, when you're feeling like the world is against you. When it feels like you're swimming against the tide in an apparent sea of adversity. And okay, plenty of people in burnout are having this kind of experience. And if that's you, then there's a few ways that might come up. Sometimes it's prompted by events. Maybe there's been a takeover in your company. You've had a new boss; they've switched you to a less appealing role; you've inherited an underperforming team or a doomed project; or maybe there's some regulatory or insurance or paperwork type challenges.
Dex (00:01:24) - Or possibly it could have been a single event. Outside work, marriage difficulties, accident, illness, bereavement, the demands of a newborn or maybe a child going through a rough patch. Well, sometimes the cause is you've switched to a new world, you're entering a new world. And it can be like this for entrepreneurs, for example, starting a business and struggling to get clients. Or it can be the stresses of higher education or being newly separated from your family or home, or maybe just moving to a new country or a new culture. But more often than not, this feeling of the world being against you is going to come from a person or persons who seem to be at counter purpose to you. Your style of working, your expertise, perhaps your contribution, your values, your motivation, whatever it is and that person or those people perhaps have undue influence over your success and your security at work or at home such that you feel quite a powerful risk is in play.
Dex (00:02:39) - But I think whatever the cause of the doldrums for you, up to and including a descent into burnout, as usual, what I'm going to do is I'm going to share some ideas that might help you today. So if this topic is speaking to you, stick with me. If you do currently have the experience that the world has against you, possibly three other things might be true for you. The first one is you're probably at a very low ebb energetically, not your normal self. Your resilience is probably pretty far down. You're probably exhausted, pissed off over it. Lost your sense of humor? Lost your motivation. Or maybe you're just sick or not sleeping well and probably quite anxious. Everything seems too hard beyond your current capacity to keep going, and also probably beyond your reserves of rationality, perspective, patience, kindness and compassion such that you're, I'm going to guess, pretty irritable with yourself and probably with other people too. Because with enormous weariness comes a fair wallop of bleakness, doesn't it? And now at that point,
Dex (00:03:59) - quite often, cynicism and depressive thoughts can creep in, which can cause us to lose sight of the general tilt of the universe in favour of survival. And maybe you don't believe that, I personally do. So, if that is you, you might feel strong urges to just curl up tight and wait for the storm to pass. Even if it's ongoing unpleasantness, not a passing episode, you might still feel like that, which can of itself be a little bit alarming. And that urge might extend to just wanting to shut down completely. Avoid people, avoid tasks, and overindulge in anything that takes your mind off the situation without requiring effort. So that's probably things like overeating overdrinking, Netflix, porn, gambling. It doesn't really matter what the outlet is, you probably found one. So number one truth. The tank's empty. You've run out of resourcefulness and the capacity to keep on giving. The second thing that's probably true is if you have the idea that, or really just the sense that, this adversity is external. It suggests that you also don't have full confidence in yourself and your own power.
Dex (00:05:23) - This change is eternal, right? It's constant. It's unavoidable in life as it is in work. And really, doubtless, you've survived wave upon wave of change at work throughout your career. So I'd be asking, has there been a last straw? What is the change that caused your loss of faith in yourself and your power? What challenge do you feel unequal to? Where have you lost or surrendered agency over your situation? What loss of confidence, autonomy or efficacy has there been? What stopped you feeling able and willing to ride the waves? I think there are good questions to ask, because sometimes we don't really see how we've arrived in this place. Or maybe it's a little while ago and we've forgotten and become entrenched in the idea that the world against us, we're so low. So number two, truth. You feel a loss of personal power to roll with, surpass or resolve whatever's happening that's difficult for you. Number three truth. It's really likely when you feel under attack from the world that you're also being a bit mean to yourself.
Dex (00:06:37) - Your inner critic might be on a roll. Generally, if other people are perceived as being rough on us, maybe indicating we're not performing up to scratch, it plays into our self-doubt and we believe them to some extent, so we might agree, internally, that we're not mastering the situation, or perhaps we have no power in the conversation that's taking place. We have a sense of our own loss of competence and general enoughness and our ability to resurface in the face of adversity. And if this is it for you? Well, I know you've survived plenty of challenges in your life and can again. So are you failing to back yourself on this one? And if so, why is that? It's a good question to ask as well, because what we're trying to do is surface how we got into this state of. Feeling a sense of adversity, that the world is against us. So number three, truth. You're probably criticizing yourself and can't see the way to reassert yourself to get through this. Burnout, of course, is an imploding condition where we've lost faith in ourselves.
Dex (00:07:51) - Fundamentally, it's that. So these scenarios where we disproportionately lose our sense of power are common, intrinsic really, even to the burnout experience. And often we've seen ourselves previously as hugely gifted and talented at solving problems. And why not? It's almost certainly true. We've been good at getting everything done, and it does come as a real shock to feel powerless and see difficulties as being outside of our control. Pretty painful. It can bring this kind of radiating sense of enormous vulnerability in the world that's extremely uncomfortable, can be virtually intolerable. And typically we'll hide this tender underbelly, won't we? We'll probablyfeel a bit of guilt, a bit of shame, sometimes naked fear at losing control of our destiny. And we'll also probably rage that the events, or the people, that precipitated this kind of unseemly collapse in us. It's all a bit embarrassing. It's a bit overwhelming. It's a bit hard to front up to the world feeling this way. So we'll give our best shot at appearing to be in control, long after we aren't. Ask me how I know!
Dex (00:09:15) - This is me in burnout. So clinging to our status, our reputation or responsibilities as best we can. You know, we'll just keep doing that as we're going under. So really, how did we come to this? In burnout?! Us! Previously Masters of the universe. But, you know, I'm saying a bit tongue in cheek, but only because I've had the same experience myself. In my case, I had a series of plummets into helplessness. If you like, my least favorite state. I had a series of medical challenges, including a heart attack and a serious road accident, and I had a couple of work engagements that dwindled to nothing before my eyes, and I really couldn't hide. And I was really, at that time, I was really sore at the world for shitting me like that, you know? And I was an aware, really aware, switched on kind of person with quite a spiritual turn of mind and also very healthy habits. And I because of that, because I've been so, I suppose, earnest.
Dex (00:10:26) - I knew that each of these experiences that I had, the medical difficulties I had, was trying to teach me something. It was like Earth calling Dex, please change direction now. But at times, you know, exhausted, defeated, I really did fold and wonder how on earth to keep going. My invincibility shattered so hard I was in ongoing shock. It was kind of an existential shock. This couldn't really be me. This couldn't really be happening to me. And looking back, what I think I spent most of my remaining energy on was avoiding what was happening or trying to resist it and resurface the way I always had, right? By sheer force of will and effort. And that, for the record, did not work. I really did need to change my M.O. It was an unavoidable truth for me. And I bet you're asking how I needed to change it. And that's what I'm going to share with you today. Basically, I listened. I pulled in my horns for a minute and listened, and I figured out what change of direction was required.
Dex (00:11:35) - And for me, as for so many clients I now work with, it looked a little bit like this. I'm going to outline it here, and then I'm going to go into a little bit more detail. Because really what I'm going to talk about here is the nuts and bolts of how to recover from burnout. So. Here's what I thought needed to happen for me and is five steps I needed to take. Number one slow down. Stop this whole bull-at-a-gate thing. Just slow down. Two. Listen, what is the universe trying to tell me? Three. Change the way I see myself. Four. Change the way I interpret what's happening in the world. I think the world against me. Okay? I need to come out of that position to do anything else. And number five, become willing to integrate myself back into the way that the world actually works. Ah, that wasn't the answer I wanted! You too, huh? So let's review those five steps in detail.
Dex (00:12:37) - One. Slow down. I had a couple of showstoppers, or I just mentioned the medical difficulties, that really let me know I needed to literally stop. I had the heart attack, after which I was required by the medical advisors to lie flat for three months and not do anything. And then after the road accident, ditto longer, I had to lie there and do nothing and in the face of such high quality, direct informational prompts from the world. I really had to stop trying to run the game my own way using force and speed. I had to, unfortunately. So I paused. I sucked in some air and I let the world I'd been running away from catch up with me. Everything I'd been trying to avoid and loss of autonomy was number one. That's the biggest thing I was trying to avoid that I had just lost. So during and after my two hospitalizations, I was incapable of any self care. I couldn't move, I couldn't feed myself. I couldn't go to the bathroom, couldn't wash myself, I couldn't do anything.
Dex (00:13:46) - And I just had to sort of lie there and let it be so. So that's it. Stop. Slow down. The second one. I spent quite a bit of time quietly reflecting on what I could be doing wrong. What was it I needed to stop doing? And hint. Those of us susceptible to burnout tend to run on what's called hyper-autonomous self sufficiency. Let's put a hand up to that. It would be possible to interpret that, don't you think, as not being very open to giving or receiving help? Not being the most crash hot team player, then really in effect, and in my case, friend, hand on heart, I'm still not very good at that. It was an established fact from way back that I really I was hyper autonomous self-sufficient. I really didn't play all that fully with others. My intentions are always there, but I'm not sure I delivered. And if you think about it. Surely anyone in burnout, particularly by anyone running on hyper autonomous self-sufficiency, which I think is a self explanatory term, must be a tiny bit social phobic to some extent?
Dex (00:15:13) - You know, why aren't they able to join in and give and take? And it spoke to me anyway of being uncomfortable, asking for help. And I look for that, in the roots of that really, in my childhood and I remember, suddenly, when I was quite young, I was exploring my ear cavity in bed one night. Quite young, this was. And I was doing it with a pencil, as you do, and I managed somehow to injure or tear my eardrum, which was really fairly painful. And I didn't want to mention this to my parents downstairs, thinking they wouldn't really appreciate that information. In fact, I don't think I ever mentioned it to them, because asking for help was a muscle I never developed. It was strongly discouraged for me in my family. And you know. Is anyone out there in podcast adult land relating to that? If you experience burnout, if you recognize hyper autonomous self sufficiency as your M.O., how come? Are you ready to listen to the world now? Trying to tell you that you can't fix everything yourself and that this is A-okay?
Dex (00:16:26) - This is the way things are meant to be. You know, you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. So, number two, what is the universe trying to tell me? Listen. Number three. I felt I had to change the way that I saw myself. This was prompted me to look inside. Right? So I've really got quite a lot of sympathy for men whose vision of their role in life is, fairly understandably, filled with things like boys don't cry; I must be a man; I must shoulder any burden; I must support everyone; I mustn't be overemotional; I must tough it out; I mustn't show weakness; I must be the good provider and the fixer of problems; I must be reliable and constant; The rock and all that other crazy stuff. I mean, it's a much longer list, really, isn't it, that society imbues in us? For men. For women. I think it's often more about being the person who is there for everyone else, who always puts everyone else first.
Dex (00:17:28) - But the truth is really. All humans are fallible. All humans can experience every human state. All humans have emotions, all humans experience birth, illness, loss, aging, and death. All humans need help and support at times. And all humans will experience moments of feeling temporarily that they are broken or that the world is against them. And in the face of that, strength is wonderful, right? It's wonderful to have and it's wonderful to share when it's generous and reciprocal. Invincibility, though, really is pure fiction, and it denies us the flexibility to embrace and work effectively with the full human experience, both our own and by extension, other people's. This fertile, fluid ground where genuine relationships germinate is not the land of perfection. It's the land of flawed humanity. That's how we connect with people. So holding this illusion of invincibility, this standard that we try to aspire to, makes us brittle, bad tempered, frustrated and feeling separate, and often it makes us appear arrogant to other people.
Dex (00:18:50) - Not to mention banishing, or outlawing even, the joy of deep, authentic connection where we let people know us fully. So I think number three, changing the way I see myself, I needed to burst this illusion that being the full me wasn't acceptable, that that wasn't going to be enough. It wasn't going to be enough at work or outside of work. I had to blow that out of the water and start being a little bit more me and and kind of connecting up. Number four, then, is changing the way I interpret the world. Because what if the world isn't against me? Could that even be true? In what ways am I invested in fighting what other people want, or what they direct me to do, or thwarting their suggestions? In what way am I making life hard for other people? And of course, then for myself. In burnout, of course, we are unable to give of our best, aren't we? Of course we are. And often what we do give is a little bit begrudging with a little bit bad grace.
Dex (00:20:00) - And I think we have a tendency, from this state of self-sufficiency or desired self-sufficiency, we can be quite judgmental and demanding of ourselves, but also of others. We can be defensive and aggressive. We can be avoidant, irritable, impatient, taciturn. Or is that just me? Am I just describing myself? Could be! But I mean, if that's not you, then add in here any of your own slightly ungracious behaviors that might come from your self directed autonomy. Because I don't think we make ourselves that easy to work with in burnout, and I think it puts people's noses out of joint. And it's little wonder, then, that they might seek ways to curb us, silence us, exclude us, over-manage us, or even attack us. And please, if you're listening to this and you're recoiling a bit and being a bit mean to yourself about it, I say all of this without the slightest inference of blame. Blame and self-blame are 0% useful to us at any time, but when we're in burnout more than ever.
Dex (00:21:10) - So. As you're listening to this. If it hurts a bit and it hurts me to even say it. It hurts me to remember how it was for me when I was in this, and it hurt me at the time incredibly badly. But I would encourage you to take a very, very gentle, if direct, look at yourself, always from a place of absolute compassion for the adult you who is suffering so much here and unable to to come out of that suffering. So when you're looking at this, come from a place of really gentle care for yourself. You are definitely not a bad person. You're a tired person, an overstressed person who is suffering, perhaps even near the end of your rope. And I think it's very important at the same time that we can be honest. That we try to see how we're behaving and who we've become and anywhere, particularly, that we are compounding our own suffering. With this internal monologue of doom driving us in our head. Because if we're unable to see that, then we can't fix it.
Dex (00:22:20) - And I would love for us all to be able to move along the path of fixing these challenges that we have. So, really, it's my contention, based on the evidence from myself and from all of my clients who return to peak effectiveness and social smoothness at work. Sounds good, doesn't it? They return there unscathed. They return there powerful, but much more deeply empathetic. Gentler. So when we're seeing all of this at the moment in the world as black, it's a skewed perspective. That recovery is available. We will find a way to see the world as not being against us once we're back into resourcefulness. Once we're back at our best, things won't look a quarter as bad, not even a 10th as bad as they look now, because we'll be much more easily able to solve any problems. And the people around us will turn into allies again once we soften up, right? Because fundamentally we're decent people. So that transformation is available in the Burnout to Leadership Coaching program, which I run along with a whole bundle of other goodies that are going to have you feeling better.
Dex (00:23:40) - So let me say again, if you're seeing the world as, say, 90% against you, marching inexorably straight over your head, coaching will help you see things in such a powerful new perspective and make such good decisions that the problems will mostly go away or become insignificant. So step number four is, I had to change the way I interpret the world. And if that's you interpreting the world a little darkly, a little bit on the dark side, I can help you with that. And number five. Okay, here's the clincher. I had to become willing to integrate myself into the way the world actually works. And by this I mean, really, the world is an indivisible, cooperative enterprise. It's designed like that. In reality, we depend on literally millions or probably billions of people in the world every day for everything we eat, drink, drive, sleep in, work with, for our education, jobs, the clothes we wear, experts and service providers, social media, news, entertainment, gadgets, the internet. For maintenance of our institutions, law, government, military and cities for history, culture, song, sport, art.
Dex (00:24:55) - Literally every thing we depend on, everything in nature, from the sunshine to the birds to kelp. We're integrated with all of it, and keeping ourselves artificially separate, locked in our cocoon is incredibly stressful and tiring. Fighting all of this reality of how the world really works. Just who are we kidding with this hyper autonomous self-sufficiency? Really? So I wonder if you're listening to this. It could be time to get a little brave. It could be time to come out of your shell a little bit. And see how the world outside really tastes and feels when you're present to it. Sniff the air a bit, because hasn't your cocoon got a bit dank and sweaty? Aren't you sick of being squished inside? Wouldn't you like to be able to take a full breath and stretch luxuriously in the cool breeze of the morning, as if no harm would fall? Worth a thought, eh? And to do that, my friend, really, the first step is to create a sense of safety. After all, lack of that prompted you to retreat in the first place for whatever reason.
Dex (00:26:07) - And part of that return to safety is reducing your interpretation of the world as threatening and finding more power in you to deal with actual difficulties. And part of it is working skillfully with your inner critic that's making you feel unsafe right inside of you. It's actually not that difficult to reorient, and I can teach you. When I coach a person experiencing burnout, what I do, the first work I do to help them is establish a sense of safety, where it's okay to relax and send those little tendrils out into the world to see if it's safe out there, too. So, if you're listening to this and you're in burnout. Wouldn't you like to feel safe again? Get up without dread? Retire that constant defense force you've got running? And then what happens is, so I teach people to create that sense of safety inside and outside of themselves. And then if you once you have that, then you can choose to open up to the world. The natural order of the way things are running to flow.
Dex (00:27:15) - To connection to all of that. Once you can open to all of those things, everything changes about your whole life. Your life experience itself changes. You get to relax about 90% more and stay relaxed, and you get to join back in with the world, with flow, with people. And you get a sense of more being on the same side. And actually with coaching that can be established fairly quickly. And if you're ready for that now, I invite you to come and talk to me at DexRandall.com. So that's number five, being willing to integrate myself into the way the world actually works, this interdependence we have with all things. So really reconnect with all that's good that springs forth in you and the reciprocal goodness that springs forth in others. Suddenly when that happens, threats start to recede and people become more fun, frankly. So that's it. in my usual manner, quite a lot to lay on you. If that's your situation, though, I do want to help you recognize it and know that support is available so that you can start to address it.
Dex (00:28:35) - Because really, what I want for you is whatever you want for you, whatever's best for you. Before we go, however, receive this today. I believe in you. So, ask yourself to just do a moment's exercise here. For one moment, just pause and look kindly, deeply into your heart and appreciate it. Isn't it a good heart? Appreciate all the ways that right now, even if you're in burnout right now, that you love, care for, and connect with other humans and all of those you hold dear, all the ways large and small, that you're still looking out for other people. And know that even if it looks to you right now that the world is against you and maybe your relationships aren't the best, you will transcend this. You will pull through. You have it in you. Time changes and you yourself can change. So. If you do hear this as an opportunity for change, if you feel the time is right for you, it might be a great time to start coaching.
Dex (00:29:47) - Consider this your invitation. Because coaching is fundamentally a process of support for you in your world to create enough safety to open up again, to open your heart again, to restore your confidence, power, passion and relationships. To create whatever you'd like, really. It's a way of reconnecting with all that's good within and outside of you. Even to the tender parts of you that you've walled off. Because I promise you, they're the best parts and you can learn once again to feel safe being the full splendor of you out in the world. That is possible for you. So I think whoever you are and whatever your situation, in your experience right now, the world deserves you and you deserve you. So that said, if you're in burnout and ready to recover now, go to dexrandall.com to book an appointment and let us start your recovery so you can get back to your best performance, leadership, and most of all, enjoyment inside work and out. A closing word. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the podcast and help me reach more people suffering in burnout by rating and reviewing it on Apple or whatever it is you're listening.
Dex (00:31:08) - I would really appreciate that. And if you know somebody else who's heading towards or in burnout, please send them this podcast link. I always recommend that new people listen to the first five episodes to get started. And thank you so much for being here today, and I wish you all the best in your journey. Perhaps I will see you soon. 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.