Burnout Recovery

Ep#131 Childhood Conditioning

July 04, 2024 Dex Randall Season 2 Episode 131
Ep#131 Childhood Conditioning
Burnout Recovery
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Burnout Recovery
Ep#131 Childhood Conditioning
Jul 04, 2024 Season 2 Episode 131
Dex Randall

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Childhood gave us rules for survival that worked well then, but can be counter-productive in adulthood. At work, our unresolved childhood fears pop up at random and trigger the amygdala, freezing our adult brain. We cannot (in the moment) solve a fear that happened decades ago. 

However, coaching is particularly successful in unburdening us of the childhood fears of rejection, abandonment and disapproval. Then we can solve work problems using our adult brain.

When we do this, anxiety, stress, frustration, resentment and overwhelm reduce.
We can return smoothly to the helm of our professional life.  

----------------------------------- Burnout Resources:
Get 1-on-1 burnout recovery coaching at https:/mini.dexrandall.com
Burnout Recovery eCourse: https://go.dexrandall.com/beatburnout
For even more TIPS see
FACEBOOK: @coachdexrandall
INSTAGRAM: @coachdexrandall
LINKEDIN: @coachdexrandall
TWITTER: @coachdexrandall
or join the FACEBOOK group for burnout coaches only
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1030925731159138

See https://linktr.ee/coachdexrandall for all links

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Childhood gave us rules for survival that worked well then, but can be counter-productive in adulthood. At work, our unresolved childhood fears pop up at random and trigger the amygdala, freezing our adult brain. We cannot (in the moment) solve a fear that happened decades ago. 

However, coaching is particularly successful in unburdening us of the childhood fears of rejection, abandonment and disapproval. Then we can solve work problems using our adult brain.

When we do this, anxiety, stress, frustration, resentment and overwhelm reduce.
We can return smoothly to the helm of our professional life.  

----------------------------------- Burnout Resources:
Get 1-on-1 burnout recovery coaching at https:/mini.dexrandall.com
Burnout Recovery eCourse: https://go.dexrandall.com/beatburnout
For even more TIPS see
FACEBOOK: @coachdexrandall
INSTAGRAM: @coachdexrandall
LINKEDIN: @coachdexrandall
TWITTER: @coachdexrandall
or join the FACEBOOK group for burnout coaches only
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1030925731159138

See https://linktr.ee/coachdexrandall for all links

[00:00:00] 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] Hello, my friends, this is Dex, and welcome to this week's episode on childhood conditioning. Sounds unpleasant? Don't want to think about it? Well, I think in burnout recovery, you might change your mind. And here's why. You've basically got childhood patterns of thinking and behavior that are holding you back as an adult.

[00:00:46] We all do. And if you've got burnout, they're going to be a big part of your suffering. Those patterns can be changed and this is going to massively impact your energy, mood, well being, vitality, enthusiasm, performance and relationships. Just this one thing can bring down your anxiety quite impressively.

[00:01:12] It'll also help you to see that people and the world are not in fact against you. You're simply going to start seeing your world as a lot less threatening and seeing people as a lot less annoying. Do you want that? Okay then, stick with me. I'll explain. Like it or not, the year when we learn the most about ourselves, and people and our world is the first year of our life.

[00:01:42] And during the first seven years of really intense learning, we form the large majority of the beliefs that we'll stick with for the remainder of our lives, no matter how nonsensical they turn out to be. And that's why, if I see you washing dishes, I'm going to think you're doing it the wrong way.

[00:02:03] Because as a kid, I learned the only right way. I learned all of the rules back then for how to be a good human, from my mum and dad, bless them. And you, rather scandalously I think, do not follow those same rules. You've got a different set, you have different parents. So, when I was a kid, I tried really, really hard to learn my family's rules for good humans.

[00:02:31] And, more or less obey them. Because getting into trouble for me was very painful and very scary. As youngsters, we risk a lot by displeasing our caregivers, don't we? Although I will admit in my case, I was extremely loud, boisterous and physical, far too much energy all the time, and I think my poor mum found me a bit of a handful, to be honest. And, thinking about it from this angle, if a child's non negotiable needs include both approval and authenticity, individuality.

[00:03:11] Right there, we've got internal tension and the seeds of conflict.

[00:03:15] But if we each grew up with our own particular set of beliefs about how to be a good human, well, there's 8 billion people out there with disturbingly different beliefs. That's really a lot of fuel for conflict, isn't it? Especially when our childhood beliefs become so firmly entrenched in our egos. So then it's really no wonder that we argue and fight so much as adults.

[00:03:41] Even siblings actually don't share the same set of rules because each sibling will have a different role in the family and will have learned a different set of things. Clearly, some beliefs we learn are great. If you are told not to suck your thumb at three years old, that advice holds good as an adult.

[00:04:02] Look before you cross the road. Don't eat dirt. But many other beliefs handed down to us by our parents and other adult influencers, aren't quite so hot. My mother, to use a treasured example, had some very interesting ideas about earning money, ambition, asking for a raise or buying a house that I found really don't serve me.

[00:04:26] Because did you know that you should buy a house once you get married so you've got somewhere to put the kids? So I went through most of my adult life thinking I couldn't have a home. Here's another one. Children in cars should produce sound only sparingly. You can borrow that one to teach your kids if you like.

[00:04:48] Back in the day, in cars we didn't have iPads. We sang and shouted

[00:04:52] and didn't really get away with it. Now here's another one from me. Oh good. Once we were in bed at night, we weren't allowed to get up again, no matter what. And one night I was in bed and I pierced my eardrum with a pencil, as you do, and I never ever told my parents. I was also, because I was a very studious kind of kid, expressly discouraged from studying.

[00:05:20] I've never really known why, actually. My mum was a teacher and my dad was an aircraft engineer. In both cases, their education had saved them from a life more tedious. Anyhow, coming back to, if you like, our encyclopedia of Things My Parents Told Me. If we want to examine that dusty archive, it has a lot of sense in it, and some of it is actually good sense.

[00:05:48] Designed to preserve us, encourage a good, fulfilling, engaging, and safe life. With every advantage that we can reasonably claim. But here's my question for you. Did that always work out for you? Or did you at times have a parent who was rageful, depressed, violent, addicted, mentally ill, physically or emotionally absent, anxious, dictatorial?

[00:06:17] Unpredictable or emotionally demanding? And a whole slew of other things, right? So we didn't all get the perfect childhood that we might have wished for. But my belief is that every parent, ever, wants the best for their child and they do the best they can for their child. However, at times their capacity to realize that goal is compromised.

[00:06:46] But I truly believe in parents. I will never blame or judge any parent, any human actually. It's not that people shouldn't take responsibility for their deeds, but that usually people committing what we might regard as offences have done it out of other pressures coming to bear on them, not because they want to be evil from birth.

[00:07:09] I know, what shall I do with my life? I'll be horrible. No. And I think also you might agree that parenting is a pretty tough gig, strewn with mishaps and fails. And how could it be otherwise? Many are unprepared for the job, unskilled, unsupported, or maybe working, or have issues of their own. And thus, have various degrees of parenting success or lack of.

[00:07:36] So I salute every parent for their undoubted and unstinting efforts to give their kids the best they're capable of. And I don't encourage any of you whose upbringing was unsatisfactory, because we could all pick holes in our upbringing, I don't encourage anyone to blame their parents. At least because it's not going to foster better relationships

[00:08:02] or yield any improvement in your life now to do so.

[00:08:09] I do believe this quite strongly because what you're doing is giving your power away. If you want to blame somebody else for something that's happening to you, you're giving that person all of the power you have to fix the problem. So I would rather suggest, that adults become their own authority and choose Who to be and how to be so that they can create the life that they want and the life experience that they want because it's really our experience of life that we have.

[00:08:37] The way that we feel about our life is not life itself. It's how we talk to ourselves about our experience of that life. Hence this podcast episode and perhaps, it might open some avenues for you. I hope so. Returning to burnout. Many people in burnout, as I hear time and time again from my clients, have received some ideas about themselves that contribute to burnout.

[00:09:05] Then what we do on their coaching journey when I'm working with them is examine and often debunk or reverse out those beliefs which are no longer providing benefit to them as adults. Such as, let's use an example the belief that they had to get perfect grades or score high in exams or get into the best schools, whatever high performance criteria they had.

[00:09:32] It's 100 percent understandable for a parent to encourage this and indeed it does often produce very high performing, highly motivated humans, highly contributing humans. Unfortunately, those humans don't always tend to feel good about themselves in any moment where they perceive that they're getting less than perfect results.

[00:09:56] It tends to produce perfectionists. And perfectionism, particularly in an adult already trained to excel, but in anybody, does not contribute to higher quality results. It simply leads to chronic stress, procrastination, self doubt, self judgment, self criticism. So I don't regard perfectionism as an asset.

[00:10:19] And such a person is going to be routinely extremely demanding of themselves, and of other people. Rather brittle in the face of external criticism, since it adds to their already very heavy burden of internal criticism. And they're usually not very gentle and encouraging with themselves or with other people.

[00:10:42] And such people are very susceptible to burnout, particularly if they ever hit a problem they can't solve. Importantly, I think a perfectionist approach impairs their leadership abilities, collaborative potential, and teamwork. And it makes them impatient and cross. A lot. Ask me how I know. So that's just one example.

[00:11:07] And, we can push ourselves unnaturally hard as adults to no real benefit, just because we're straining for this mythical perfection. We do this because as a child that seemed to secure us Parental approval and perhaps attention or affection. You may have a whole different set of childhood beliefs that you've been unconsciously dragging along behind you that have really no further use to you as an adult.

[00:11:38] And here's one of the ways that we would address these unhelpful beliefs in a coaching context. Let me use perfectionism as an example. Let's say a client comes to me and they're experiencing some unpleasant work situation where they have either actually failed to please others or they think they have.

[00:12:00] It's routine for a perfectionist to be that way. To notice that. To have antennae a mile long for it. But maybe on this occasion the stakes are high because they got a public dressing down. Or maybe they failed to complete an important task. And their emotion, their emotional reaction will likely be overwhelming for them.

[00:12:22] And fearful with very high anxiety. And a following tailspin of negative self talk. Criticism. Blame. Self aggression. And as well, they might feel defensive or aggressive towards other people and have a strong urge to fight back. If the response to real or perceived failure is way out of sync with the magnitude of the issue itself, so if it's a very big response to a fairly modest issue, then it probably has been triggered by an old belief.

[00:12:56] It really is overreaction. When we're relying on the reactions we had as kids. So the client then usually brings that distress to me. It will seem to them probably unfair, unbearable and insoluble. And of course it is insoluble while they hold this negative belief, both about themselves as adequate and about their ability to manage the situation, which they usually see as low.

[00:13:25] So really that's the helplessness of a child. It's like, Oh, mom or dad is mad and I can't do anything about it.

[00:13:32] So what we do is start by separating the external event from their internal response. We separate the problem into two parts. We look at what actually happened at work versus all the thoughts the client has had about that. In many cases, we see that the largest burden of failure is internal.

[00:13:53] It's relentless, self criticism and self judgment has propelled the client into fight or flight, jammed their brains solid, and triggered further cascades of self judgment, self punishment, blame, fear, anxiety, often black and white thinking, catastrophizing, and generally then overwhelm and inaction. Often external events turn out not to be necessarily that severe, or they have the potential to be worked with if emotions are calm.

[00:14:24] Because perfectionism, once triggered it's gonna get out of control pretty fast. Because there's a childlike belief that the person can't be accepted as they are. They must perform their way to acceptance and thus to safety. So everything feels a little bit life or death as a child who is not accepted for who they really are.

[00:14:45] And if that's triggered as an adult, it still pings the amygdala. The alarm goes off, that fear of rejection cuts in, and it ultimately, because it was a survival issue, to a child, we react as if it's still a survival issue to an adult. And then we believe that. The rational brain goes offline and we can't use any rational argument to dispel the fear that's come up.

[00:15:12] So when this happens with my clients, usually at this point, they're more or less freaking out, telling me all about it. Very long story, black and white thinking, disasters. And they're reminding themselves all the way through the story that they're telling that they can't solve the problem. They're telling themselves they can't solve the problem.

[00:15:33] And of course, they can't hope to solve the problem from an adrenaline state. With their analytical mind switched off. And they realize that and then they freak out even more. So this is where, having the calming presence of a coach can help them. It can help them calm their overheated mind and nervous system and help them come out of fight or flight, reduce their reactivity, gain some perspective.

[00:16:00] So they can then start analyzing the problem, start to Workshop options or solutions that will most likely avoid all the worst case consequences that they thought would happen, including the urgent need to fight back, which so often makes things worse. I'm really helping the client back to an analytical adult mode and out of fight or flight.

[00:16:25] And after the dust has settled then, we can examine together what the best solution is to try. And further, if that solution looks like it's going to work in this circumstance, We can think about, can you reuse a similar solution to similar problems in the future? Can we solve a problem once now and have it solved for future events?

[00:16:50] That's the real power of coaching, I think. It's learning new habits and new ways of responding to things that happen in our world. What we're doing there is Reducing triggering and increasing analytical adult responding, and creating out of that a new self supporting habit. Many clients reactivity over a lifetime of similar events has been so strong that they didn't even realize they could modify those triggers.

[00:17:21] But with awareness and practice they can. And I teach them to see how much power they actually hold as an adult, so they can come up with calm, functional solutions to problems. They don't need to drop into victim mode, which is automatically helpless. And when they can see that difference and start creating different responses real time, that's absolutely pivotal and revolutionary in their experience of burnout and recovery from burnout.

[00:17:52] Another one of the methods that I do use since I'm also a qualified energy healer, is based on Richard Schwartz 's Internal Family Systems and it's another way to diffuse the bomb of our childhood reactivity, but this time we do it by working very gently with the stored fear energy in the mind and body because that energy from a time in our past will have formed a scar in the psyche via a fearful memory that we hold and it can still erupt when it's provoked.

[00:18:22] So you will need an expert to hold space for you in this process. It's not something I suggest you dabble with, by the way, particularly because it has the potential to uncover and disturb traumatic memories. But it is another way of revisiting your childhood self, frozen in struggle on a particular issue and helping release the charge of fear from that memory.

[00:18:48] So that when a similar dynamic pops up in adult life, those youthful fears don't fire up the amygdala and precipitate that familiar fight or flight, feelings of helplessness, et cetera. And that's just a couple of the ways that I do work with clients. I've got a very big toolkit to help them tackle and heal old wounds and basically to create a fresh energy to the mind and body.

[00:19:15] That's basically confident, not easily overwhelmed, and it's not bogged down in reactivity from the past. Unshackled from that. Because in the exhaustion of burnout, when a client is close to their edge much of the time, the smallest little thing can flick the switch into fight or flight.

[00:19:35] And reducing this reactivity and returning agency and the power of choice makes a really big difference to their experiences, particularly at work. If one of the toughest aspects of burnout is feeling inadequate, out of control, Imposter ish, helpless, then returning calm, confident, rational decision making and sensing one's own power to handle situations smoothly makes a life changing difference.

[00:20:12] So we do that with perfectionism, but we also do it with overwork, overwhelm, exhaustion, anger, moodiness, resentment, performance. The list goes on and on, because imagine if any time you felt helpless to achieve an ordered, rational, positive outcome to a situation. Imagine if you just actually could, because you can, when we clear the road of all of this debris.

[00:20:44] We just need to bring the situation back from an emergency, where control is of course missing, to a considered decision making process based on adult self confidence. And targeting the result that you actually want. Not focusing on the thing you don't want. So if we do that, at worst, we don't make the situation any worse.

[00:21:04] We don't fight back. We don't lose our shit. We look and sound professional. And we contribute to the solution. And we're better listeners as well. So we're better negotiators. So there we have it. If you feel ruled by reactivity that you developed as a child or if you suspect that that's happening and it's causing suffering for you and it's contributing to your burnout, the possibility of change is ripe in you.

[00:21:34] That's why you're here choosing to listen to this podcast, isn't it? The time is right for you. And if that's true, the solution is available. If you'd like to come and talk to me about that, no charge, no obligation. We can outline a recovery path for you. And if you like that path, we can work together to achieve it.

[00:21:55] Book an appointment at DexRandall. com. If you enjoyed this episode, please be a pal and share it with others that you know who are burnt out or stressed out or overworked. And I would really love it if you could rate and review the podcast, if you would be so kind. Thank you for listening today. If today's topic has raised any questions for you, shoot me a text via the link in the show notes.

[00:22:20] I look forward to hearing from you. Catch you next time. 


Childhood Conditioning and Burnout
Impact of Early Learning on Adult Life
Influence of Childhood Beliefs
Challenges of Parenting
Debunking Redundant Beliefs
Coping with Childlike Reactivity
Healing Childhood Emotional Wounds
Reclamation of Power