Burnout Recovery

Ep#117 Tending to the Soul

March 21, 2024 Dex Randall Season 2 Episode 117
Burnout Recovery
Ep#117 Tending to the Soul
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

It can be tough(!) to pause for self-care when burnt out, but those essential pauses can be transformative. I've learned that the act of being kind to oneself is not a luxury; it's a necessity - our souls die without it. Don't they?

Do you wish people would support you more?
Are you being a bit TOO tough on yourself?

As remote an idea as it may seem to you now:  What do you think would happen if you DID practice self-kindness amidst life's pressures? 

Let's explore how to rescue your starving soul and restore the wellbeing you truly want and deserve, which will strongly support your burnout recovery. The days of being harsh to yourself may well be over! And not a moment too soon! If harshness worked, you'd already know.

Show Notes:
Joy on Demand, Chade-Meng Tan

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[00:00:00] Dex: 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.

[00:00:22] Dex: Hello my friends, this is Dex and today I went to the beach at 6am and I had a body surf with my friends and I accidentally bumped into one of them on a wave because I didn't see him and it's the second time this week which is really not very good form and it happened because I'm experiencing some difficulties with my vision, my balance and my spatial awareness.

[00:00:49] Dex: It's a little bit disconcerting when your body-surfing. Especially in the pre dawn light which we were in. And I felt pretty bad about it, but for some reason, lost in the water, I just rested there for a moment, and I felt suddenly very buoyant. And I just decided, oh, seeing's not everything.

[00:01:10] Dex: And the laughter of my friends is actually much more important. And in my soul, joy arose all by itself. And I felt right inside of me, I felt a deep satisfaction. And I thought it might be helpful to talk about that today. Tending to the soul in this week's episode. Now, I do imagine that hearing the topic, tending to the soul, your first response, if you catch it, might be something like a wistful pang, a pang of regret and want, a need to be held or nurtured.

[00:01:46] Dex: That's probably followed really swiftly by, Oh no, I'm not looking after my soul enough. Oh, but I don't have time. I've got more important things to do. And all the reasons why you're not giving yourself that attention. And then I would say that's probably going to be followed even more swiftly by eye-rolling or dismissal of such a tree-hugging theme.

[00:02:09] Dex: Or cursing at me for bringing your own soul to your attention so painfully. That could be a whole bunch of things, but it wouldn't surprise me if some of those were in there. Because that's it. Burnout in a nutshell. We don't have time, or find time for, or (awful word) prioritize self care. Are you rolling your eyes yet?

[00:02:39] Dex: Thinking I don't understand just how busy you really are? Because you're right, I don't. In this moment, I've got no idea what your life is like, how much pressure you experience, or how you feel, what your backlog is, or how many people are screaming at you with their needs and wants. I don't know any of that, but speaking from my own burnout experience and from my years of coaching on burnout, I can conjecture this.

[00:03:07] Dex: If you weren't under that pressure at the moment, you would create it out of habit by over committing yourself and then swimming like the blazes against the inrushing tide of requests and things to do, because being busy is your MO. Bottom line is this. No one experiencing burnout has good self care and self care.

[00:03:31] Dex: I don't mean, it's all flowers and spas. It's actually self kindness. It's knowing what our soul wants, and tending to that want. So I think tending to the soul is a really big part of the counterbalance to the symptoms of burnout. And because of our quest for busyness, we're always on the go, we're always doing stuff.

[00:03:59] Dex: Really, any of us who are in the middle of a burnout experience will have trained out of ourselves this self care aspect. We're just focused on being busy and getting stuff done. We will have neglected our self care and we will have told ourselves it's because we're too busy. Chicken and egg really.

[00:04:23] Dex: So today, stay with me, please let us pause for a moment, which you may hate to do, and investigate, given our overburdened state when we're in burnout, how we can be kind to ourselves. About who we are, how we are and the choices we make to get through each day. How about right now? If this resonates for you, take a really big deep breath in right now and hold it and take your awareness into your head, your shoulders and your back and find any tension you hold there and bunch up that tension and let it go on the out breath as you breathe out now.

[00:05:03] Dex: And release that tension. I

[00:05:05] Dex: sprung that on you. Let's do it again. Let's take another really big deep breath in. Follow the breath right down through your chest to your abdomen and hold again. And find any tension in your chest, your solar plexus, your guts or your loins. Gather up all the tension and let it go on the out breath as you breathe out.

[00:05:25] Dex: And take one last deep breath in following it into your lungs and your heart. Be aware of your heart and how it feels. And gather up all the tension and sorrow and let that out with the outbreath. That's right. Notice your mind and body now. Notice your thoughts. Notice what came up for you while I was talking about that and while you were breathing in the way that I suggested.

[00:06:00] Dex: If you felt then any tension, resistance, irritation, impatience or judgment arise when you took those breaths. If you censured yourself in any way, just relax now and smile. Accept all of that too. That's simply a release. Choosing to attempt or even consider those breaths is your gift, even if you didn't like how you did them or how they felt for you.

[00:06:34] Dex: Because when we're new to this simple practice, we usually have a lot of stored tension in our minds and bodies waiting to release, far more than we could release in just three breaths. And when we're taking the in-breath, what we notice then is that tension. We notice the pain and the blocks, the negative thoughts that so often go with that.

[00:06:58] Dex: When what we really want to do is we want to notice the peace, right? We want to know that we're doing it right too. So here's what I'm going to say. If you attempted that exercise at all, you're doing it right. However you did it, it was right for you in that moment. If you didn't arrive at Nirvana, of course, that wasn't the point.

[00:07:20] Dex: The gift you're giving yourself here is attention to your own suffering, which with practice over time will cause your heart and your body and your subconscious mind to find ways to relieve your tension. Because tension's not your natural state and the body is designed to maintain homeostasis. It's oriented to heal.

[00:07:47] Dex: So we're playing the long game here, but the gift of attention is already bestowed if you engaged with that exercise. So however you feel right now, positive or neutral or negative, that's actually okay. It's part of the process, regard it as just some sensations that your body is having.

[00:08:10] Dex: It's in its quest for homeostasis, really. And if right now, let's say you're feeling grumpy or in fact, any negative feeling, let's experiment with granting that grumpiness or that feeling permission to be there in your body. It can't hurt you. It's just sensation traveling through your body. So allow it to be there.

[00:08:35] Dex: Give it permission to be there. And notice Where you feel it coming up in your body as sensation. Where the tension is or the pain or the block or any other sensation. Notice the size of it, the shape of it, the vibration, the temperature, the color, whatever comes to you. And notice if that feeling, those sensations change as you watch them.

[00:09:03] Dex: Be curious about it. You're just an observer here, but your feeling has a message for you. That's why it's there, present as sensation in your body. It's trying to tell you something. And notice how, if you feel the urge to reject or block the feeling, or you're wishing it would go away, that actually really increases the tension because that message it's trying to give you is for you.

[00:09:32] Dex: It's helping you restore homeostasis. It becomes more urgent and more insistent about that if you're not listening, if you're trying to block it. And that's why the feeling stays in our body. It's still trying to pass the message on to us, but we're not yet listening. So an example is anger. If you feel anger, The message it's trying to give you is that a boundary has been crossed and you need to give attention to that and rectify it.

[00:10:02] Dex: If you feel worried, the message is that there's some unresolved tension, some unresolved situation that needs your active attention. If you feel sad, the message is that something has touched the tenderness of your heart. and you experience regret and sadness. But here's the thing. In burnout, our negative feelings get out of control.

[00:10:31] Dex: They're disturbing and painful, so often we try to block them. And then they stack up in the background, threatening to overwhelm us. It's a to-do list of unfelt emotions stacked up in our head. And so we block harder, and pretty soon, a lot of our daily energy is going into managing that emotional stack.

[00:10:54] Dex: And really managing it doesn't work very well anyway. But, here's the good part, right? The alternative you're gonna like, a lot, is to accept and feel your emotions. So even now, if you feel grumpy, or any negative feeling, choose to grant the grumpiness passage through your system, through your mind and body.

[00:11:17] Dex: Let's do this again with the breathing. Take one more deep breath in and hold and simply feel the feeling in your body. Accept it. It's yours. Allow it just to be there. And as you breathe out, just release a tiny bit more of its tension and find gratitude in yourself that you gave permission to yourself to try that.

[00:11:44] Dex: I really do suggest that you do this as a daily practice because it really just takes a minute or two. Your mind, of course, will not want to do this. It will object, probably quite strenuously, because In burnout, when we've got this stack of, this backlog of emotions, we become very scared of our emotions and we don't want to face up to them.

[00:12:04] Dex: But actually facing one at a time is so simple and quick and easy. It's much easier than trying to manage the backlog. So your mind will object, it will give you all sorts of reasons why it doesn't want you to do this exercise each day for two or three minutes. But your body is going to love it and the exercise itself can't possibly do you any harm.

[00:12:26] Dex: Cos releasing blocked emotions will also calm you, it will calm your mind, and it will calm your body, and it will improve your mood and relaxation. Once you let go of the tension of your emotions, then your body can relax and your mind can relax with it. So what I gave you there was a quick introduction.

[00:12:46] Dex: It's like a crash course for beginners in tending to the soul. That's where it starts at the real grassroots level is being present to your own emotions and allowing them to pass through you unhindered . That is tending to your soul, that is releasing a lot of your emotional energy and essentially, processing your own emotions is caring for yourself.

[00:13:13] Dex: So when you release as a little daily habit in your tensions from your emotions, when you release enough tension in your body to enable you to operate more smoothly in the world, that's when it becomes possible to make more choices to tend to your soul at the next level. So as a beginner, really just process your emotions, be present to yourself.

[00:13:38] Dex: And accept yourself rather than blaming yourself for having emotions, which every human has. So when we go on to tend our soul beyond that of course you already know what your soul wants. Deep inside of you, even though you might have forgotten in burnout because blocking negative feelings also blocks positive feelings.

[00:14:00] Dex: You can't be selective and only block the negative ones, so you will have stopped feeling joy. If you've been stuffing your feelings, you will be disconnected from things that you used to enjoy. They, even if you do them, you won't actually feel any enjoyment. If you're blocking your feelings inside of you, and that's really typical in burnout, I'd be surprised if anyone came to me in burnout and that wasn't happening for them.

[00:14:24] Dex: And really, I think of it, this blocking of emotions, this inability to connect with joy and with people, with relationships, is really a rather extreme warning that you need to change, that burnout's not working for you. Because life isn't meant to be joyless. You're not meant to be joyless and you can simply reclaim the joy or reattach the experience of it to people and places and things you love.

[00:14:55] Dex: And burnout coaching, this is what we do. It revitalizes you and kickstarts your joy again. And I think that's a really vital part of the transformation of burnout recovery. But in advance of that, right now, you can deliberately make time for things that still activate tiny flickers of good feeling in you.

[00:15:19] Dex: And quite often the simple joys of life, like I get in nature, in the ocean, it's just momentary. I just get an impulse in one moment. I hear a bird sing or I see the ocean and I get a little tiny flicker of joy. Easy to overlook, but not if you're looking for it, not if you're anticipating it. You already know what things give you that joy, and if you're not feeling the joy of them now, you can train yourself back into it.

[00:15:46] Dex: And for me, the things that give me those wonderful little flickers of joy are things like people, being around people, nature spirituality, sport, good food, dogs, things like that. And as I posted this morning on social media, I go to the beach before work to body surf and have coffee in order to get those tiny moments of joy and connection.

[00:16:13] Dex: And I've cultivated that for years because I know I can just get that flicker and it sets me up. Whatever your thing is, how can you get snippets of it as often as possible? Really, our soul needs feeding every day. Even though your time is super busy, how can you give yourself a little flicker of joy each day?

[00:16:31] Dex: What can you connect with, even listening? For me, listening to the birds singing outside the window, or even looking out of the window at the tree, it helps. Just give me access to that side of myself that can still connect with the basic goodness of myself, of life, of nature. So if I can't make it to the beach one day, I will listen to the birds singing, or I'll go out and look at a tree.

[00:16:56] Dex: Sounds stupid, doesn't it, looking at a tree? But somehow it works for me. Or patting a dog or something that simple. And for me, at least, this joy, this flicker of joy that I'm looking for, the connection with the basic goodness of nature, for me, that is not ever obtained by checking messages or socials.

[00:17:19] Dex: Those compulsive activities, I've got a nanosecond spare, I must check my phone. That isn't where joy comes from for me. I'd be a little bit surprised if that's where joy comes from for you. But burnout recovery, the whole of burnout recovery really, is actually a process of reconnecting with the good.

[00:17:39] Dex: The good that's still there that you can't see or receive at the moment if you're in burnout. So reconnecting with the good that's in you, that's in life, that's in people, and then funnily enough, can still be in work. Okay, but mostly it's in you, because the facility to connect with joy has to come from you.

[00:18:02] Dex: Wherever the stimulus is, the connection comes from you, and it is still in there, I promise you. The magic, the mojo still lives inside you, no matter how long it is since you've had a sense of that. So you may be in burnout, you may be completely disconnected from its goodness. Or the sense of that goodness, but it is still there and it can be revived.

[00:18:27] Dex: Burnout recovery really is rediscovering joy, connection, belonging, thriving, purpose, passion, all that good juicy stuff that is and remains part of your human nature. It's just gone to sleep. We need to give it a bit of a kick and get it back into gear. So the revival really does start with just these few simple deep breaths And listening into your feelings that are trying to guide you back to the goodness.

[00:19:00] Dex: That's what your feelings are trying to do. So when you're blocking them, you're blocking the guidance. And one book I have read that's quite good on creating joy using breathing. And it's just a one or two minute exercise like this is I'll put it in the the show notes. I've suddenly forgotten the name.

[00:19:17] Dex: It's by that dude who was the happiness officer at Google. I'll put it in the show notes for you and you can try the exercises in there. And then if you want, completing this revival for you will be Burnout Recovery Coaching, which is really an intensive self rediscovery process.

[00:19:34] Dex: You'll reorient yourself away from negativity, suffering, irritation, resentment. You'll turn down anxiety until your situation looks, and indeed is, much more manageable, more workable. And you'll turn back towards all the stuff you value in yourself, and your life, and your world. And I liken it to the needle swinging in a barometer.

[00:20:04] Dex: Remember them? So the needle swings away from permanently stormy and back into sunny again. Cause sun is still there behind the clouds, right? Behind the storm clouds, the sun is still shining. So if your soul is starving to death, in part that's down to choices you've made, to be honest, to work harder and harder instead of caring for yourself.

[00:20:27] Dex: And I'm going to teach you to champion yourself first. So you start to thrive and perform at your best. Okay. Because you will have naturally much more flowing energy and much more optimism and enthusiasm for the work that you do. And if you're wondering what that would look like for you in your situation, come and talk to me, tell me what your situation is, tell me what's bothering you, what you'd like to change, and let's just simply make a plan for you to get there.

[00:20:56] Dex: You can recover quickly and sustainably and get back to your best performance, leadership, success, and most of all, enjoyment. Inside work and out. If you'd like to talk with me, you can book an appointment to do that at DexRandall.Com. If you enjoyed this episode today, help me please to reach more people in burnout by rating and reviewing the podcast.

[00:21:22] Dex: I will very much appreciate your support. And if you know somebody who's heading towards or in burnout, please send them the podcast link because it's packed, as you know, with practical tips for burnout recovery. I recommend that new people listen to the first five episodes to get started. Thank you so much for listening today.

[00:21:42] Dex: Have a wonderful day. I wish you much joy. 

Why tend to the soul?
Pausing for Self-Care
Self-care of your emotions
Reconnecting with small moments of joy
Reviving the Goodness of You