You may find that under chronic stress your brain goes a bit wonky and starts feeding you suboptimal thoughts about life. That could be due to fatigue, distraction, overwhelm...etc.
Remember that your thoughts at such moments are not facts - false beliefs, exhaustion and memories can muddle your thinking - but you CAN find your way back to more helpful states.
This was Dex's experience during his own burnout - overtiredness causing scrambled thoughts. You are not broken - any labels you associate with 'the scramble', such as ADHD, anxiety, imposter, burnout do not define you. Everything is temporary and workable.
But if you are in burnout, with an exhausted and overcooked brain and body, is it time to give yourself the gift of recovery?
I KNOW there's a ton of good left in you, waiting to be revived.
Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
The Work by Byron Katie
No Bad Parts, by Richard E Schwartz
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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 friends, this is Dex and I am so glad you're here, especially for this week's episode on scrambled eggs. And I could go a bit off piste on this one, I warn you. So scrambled egg is what I call that moment when your brain isn't quite working with you and it comes up with something daft and you think to yourself, wow, is that really what my brain just did? Did aliens take over? What's going on? And partly I'm writing this because my brain has form. It's been up to a few tricks lately itself. Let's have a look. Because sometimes when I do that, it makes me laugh with the crazy. But sometimes I do feel a little bit disappointed if I'm honest, and sometimes I just really need a better thought than the one supplied. My egg's scrambled. How's yours? Do you get that? And I'm talking to a lot of fried people at the moment.
Dex (00:01:21) - So perhaps you do, because it's Christmas week here. A time of peace and plenty. Or a mad headless chicken frenzy. Take your pick. And for me, scrambled egg is often when I'm tired or distracted. And I think for me it's an age thing because my brain used to be laser like, fast, accurate, a sensational problem solver, if I say so myself. And embarrassingly, because of that, I used to be quite a painful leader to work with because when somebody raised a problem in a meeting, my brain would solve it in 0.3 of a second, and I would 100% believe in my own solution. And then I'd be looking around at all these gaping mouths. And I was pretty arrogant back then. But also I do, perhaps should I say I did have a very high IQ, so I don't know. I've got limited gifts, but at the time I was puffed up enough to think that solving engineering problems was one of them. Oh, dear, right? The very young! Anyway.
Dex (00:02:26) - So if you're a bit overcooked right now and your brain is slipping its chain a bit, could be so very many reasons, right? When I started thinking about this, hundreds or thousands of reasons that could be happening. And I would really love to hear if you want to tell me, because human fallibility comes in so many flavors. Maybe your brain has cooked up its own special way of going rogue. Tell me. But at the same time, I'm thinking about this generally reliable computer in my head, I'm reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown, and I did quite a little bit from it in the last episode because really, Brené, for me as a researcher, is that rare combination of. A dry, analytical, factual a simulator of data. In a brilliant raconteur and storyteller. And disarmingly honest about her own personal struggles and undoing. And surely that's why we love her. So I'm reading about her breakdown in this book, quite rightly rebranded as a spiritual Awakening, in the context of the work that I do as a coach.
Dex (00:03:42) - Thinking about how our brains get muddled about the truth. Because look at our training as kids. Not only do our parents want to impress their beliefs on us, that they're certain of the only way to do things, but also up to age seven, we've got no critical faculties. We can't analyze incoming data at all, only ingest it, memorize it, and take it to be the single incontrovertible truth about something. Which year is the biggest learning year of our life? First one and it degrades from there, right? And if you're my age, believe me, the degradation accelerates. Tell me how to work something new and I'll forget even if I take notes. It's bad. Mind you, tell my mother, who's 87, how to do something, and her eyes will go swimmy and unfocused and wander off as she benignly stares at the table. Okay, so coming back to kids age 1 to 7, no discernment, assuming everything that they're told is fact. So that's great, isn't it? If your parent is grounded, functional, self-aware, benevolent, and so on.
Dex (00:05:02) - But if your parents are a little bit off beam, a bit deluded or resentful, lacking in emotional intelligence or life experience, or maybe taught by extreme parents of their own, or have mental health struggles, for example. What then? So, as a listener to this, you have yourself a childhood's worth of unprocessed data in your head, which you'll either proclaim as fact for the rest of your puff. Or you'll declare as total hogwash and reject entirely. So think about the way you wash dishes, for example. Do you do it the way you learned it as a kid? And is that the only proper way to do it? Do you correct other people who leave, for example, dirty dishes in the sink? Because that's plain wrong? Our real problem is that we trust our brains. We think all our own thoughts are true, and we need to do this, to not break the algorithm of our lives. I think we need beliefs and habits to be solid ground under our feet, and our egos need so desperately to be right.
Dex (00:06:09) - I remember when I was young, if I didn't agree with my mother on some point and I foolishly dared to question it, she would just stand there and look at me, her mouth open with this Does-not-compute face on her. As if I just said the moon was made of cheese and she would say no, in a tone that really implied that cannot possibly be. Admitting no further discussion. So okay, we believe our own thoughts. Weird though, because our thoughts are mostly memories, and memories change with time. We edit them based on new learnings we make over our lifetime. The old memory was true until it wasn't. Now the new version is true. And as an example, I was hit by a car in 2018 while I was riding my bike, and I could have sworn blind that the car came down the hill behind me and turned left across the front of me. No question. Unfortunately, in court later I discovered it was coming up the hill. Witnessed by onlookers. The magistrate was most insistent about this, so that was time for my mouth to hang open and I guess
Dex (00:07:24) - my explanation was the only way my brain could make sense of what I experienced. My brain totally made it up and called it a fact. If you ask three siblings to recall a family argument that happened 20 years ago, you're going to hear three totally different versions. That's what brains do. Scrambled eggs all day, every day. They just make shit up. Which can be funny, embarrassing, humiliating, shaming, awkward, life changing, or completely insignificant. But it's often shocking. I think internally it's often disconcerting. And the more time I spend coaching. And by the way, self coaching, the more I make myself laugh more I realize how full of shit my own brain is. It's amazing, actually, looking back that I held fast to so many beliefs for so long. Beliefs that aren't serving me, beliefs that make me feel or look stupid, beliefs that hamper me living as the person that I really am. And a lot of those beliefs are terribly important to me. It's me telling myself what kind of person I am, what kind of person I should be, whether my behavior is okay or not okay, whether I'm allowed to do things or not, what parameters I can live within.
Dex (00:08:51) - Who and how I'm allowed to be as a person. For example, most of my life I declined to buy a home because I was told that you bought a house when you got married and had kids. You need somewhere to put them, right? I didn't get married, nor have kids. I'm a different kind of orange. The kind that doesn't need a home. So I didn't buy a home. I don't think that's what my parents really intended for me. But there you are. And okay. Don't worry, I got there in the end. But that unconscious belief stayed with me a long time before I even chose to notice it and question it. Scrambled egg right there. So for those of you in burnout, I'm going to bet that your back catalogue of uninspected beliefs about yourself particularly, and how a good human should be, is bursting with unhelpful ideas. You're only okay if you're Dux at school. How good is that one? And here's the thing we don't have to keep any belief, no matter where it comes from or who gave it to us, or how it supports conformity with our tribe.
Dex (00:10:06) - Because a belief is a thought. We can just have a new one. Practice it repeatedly and often until we think it so often it becomes our default. And then we have a new belief. And that is the core of the process by which we change who we are, because who we are is really just who we tell ourselves we are. And sometimess, changing who you are is how you become more you. It's a homecoming to your inner truth. It's self-acceptance in action. It's genuine authenticity when you stop pretzeling yourself to fit in. In the end, if 80% of your energy is going into being, 'NOT YOU'; into being what you think others want you to be. That's bloody exhausting, for one thing. But what's left for you? So maybe as you hear this, in the coming days, you're going to hear yourself saying a thought that you believe to be true. Maybe you're going to hear it as it comes out of your mouth, and maybe that will give you pause, because perhaps you don't even like that thought.
Dex (00:11:22) - And like Byron, Katie says, maybe you're going to ask yourself then four questions? One. Is the thought true ? Two. Do I absolutely know it to be true? Three. How do I react? What happens when I believe that thought? And Four. Who would I be without that thought? What are the other possibilities? And I'm telling you all of this because the transformation you're going to need, to come out of burnout specifically, is going to ask you to wind back some beliefs that aren't serving you. Really, this is how you get the monkey of burnout off your back, of trying to be someone you're not, so that you can really transcend burnout and live a gentler, happier, more productive life. In short, in burnout recovery, you will need to change. And of course, I can support you with that if you wish. It's nowhere near as hard as it sounds, or as unpleasant as it sounds, either. And on the other side, it's immensely wonderful. It's really the place your heart is trying to get to.
Dex (00:12:30) - And while we're on this other line about burnout. Then another scrambled egg I get, it's a kind of hijack, it's having a thought from way back that has no currency now. For example, if I'm about to eat a piece of chocolate, my inner critic might pop up and say, "Hey Dex, remember when you ate four toffees when you were age five? And you crammed all of them into your cheeks at once, hoping nobody would notice? When really you were supposed to give three of them to your sisters." It'll tell me that. "Remember how much trouble you got into?" It'll say. So that's my inner critic trying to warn me off chocolate. It's trying to warn me of impending disaster if I eat chocolate. It's just trying to look after me, bless it. But it's not very good at that. Although it really does try. And nowadays what I do with that one is I use. The Internal Family Systems way of looking at things about our protectors and how they're trying to look after us in their own misguided little way.
Dex (00:13:34) - And. You can read a book called No Bad Parts by Richard E Schwarz. I'll put it in the show notes, to learn a bit more about this. But really, what we do is. We start to work more skillfully with these internal helpers that we know as the inner critic, so that they can support us in a way that works better for us as adults. Those inner helpers that you have, that inner critic you have. It's always trying to do its best, but you can redirect it to do even better. Coming back to the beginning, another scrambled egg I get is often when I'm overtired, and that does happen more often now than it used to. I'm telling you. But it was also a really big feature of burnout. When I was not processing information correctly, I was making lower quality decisions than I used to, and I'd also go down rabbit holes and I would end up procrastinating, or else I would have some crazy, ridiculous thought and I would free into the wild without fact checking it before it went out.
Dex (00:14:38) - And some of those behaviors I've now learned to call ADHD. That's another scramble entirely, really. And burnout recovery actually works quite successfully with ADHD. Something I initially found surprising until I did a bunch of deeper research into that. And on that note, if you've got something that you've been taught is a "scramble". Maybe this scramble has a neurodiversity label, or a learning disability label, or a sex and gender label, a trauma label, a parenting label, an addiction label, or a relationship label. I got a batch of all of those. That's not the end of the story, because maybe they're not scrambled at all. Maybe you're just a different kind of orange. But I have discovered that working skillfully is possible with most flavors of scramble. And if you have multi scramble and it plays into burnout for you. What if that's no barrier to recovery? So what I've thrown out today is a whole bunch of blurts about scrambles. So maybe this whole episode is its own bit of scramble. I've talked enough about that today, I think.
Dex (00:15:53) - But I'm going to go on a scrambled discovery mission, and there might be more to come on this later. So let me close by saying, if you are scrambled 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. You can book an appointment to talk to me at DexRandall.com. If you enjoyed this episode, I would love you to rate, review and subscribe to the podcast and I truly appreciate your support in this. And if you know somebody finally who's heading towards or in burnout, please send them to the podcast. It's packed with practical tips for burnout recovery, and I recommend new people listen to the first five episodes to get started. Thank you for listening, my friend. Tell me about your scramble. And if you're in burnout, please come and talk to me about how to recover quickly and sustainably and get back to your best performance, leadership, and success.
Dex (00:16:57) - And most of all, enjoyment inside working out. You can book an appointment at DexRandall.com.