- You still have the same amount of love and fear available as you've always had.
- How love and fear motivate us.
- The virtue cycle of love and the negative cycle of fear.
- Tips on feeling more love.
- Why loving yourself is indispensible.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/the-athletes-way/202001/the-neuroscience-seeking-pleasure-and-avoiding-pain Christopher Bergland
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, Dex here, talking today about everybody's favorite topic, love and fear, since that's where a lot of us in burnout have difficulty, and I'm just gonna start by observing it, there's no shortage of love in you, whether you are fully connected to it and expressing it, or not. Unfortunately, there's probably no shortage of fear in you either as you're human and specifically, chances are, you're a human experiencing burnout. So firstly, it's okay to have love, it's okay to have fear, it's okay to have any human emotion. No big deal. Everybody's got them, nothing to give yourself hassle about, and also you are not alone, if that's your experience. In burnout, every human is equally capable of love and fear. Love and fear motivate everything we do, love or fear. Sometimes that can be expressed as the motivational triad, seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, conserving energy. Really they are also love and fear, and we share such motivational forces with all animals. Well, I mean, okay, I can't speak for every animal, and as far as I can tell, the science on this is a bit elusive, but we can refer to the pleasure principle coined by Freud. Certainly in neuroscientist terms according to Christopher Bergland, there is a neurotransmitter called glutamate that sears synapses together after a traumatic experience. This is how fear conditioning and avoidance learning become hard wired. Glutamate bonds are hard to dissolve. And on the opposite side, GABA appears to drive pleasure seeking behavior, while glutamate reinforces avoidance learning designed to avoid pain. Anyway, listen, there's a virtuous cycle to love. The more we love, the more we experience love, the more potential for love exists, and the more love we have to give. And fear also has its own cycle, a negative cycle, a closed loop of danger. I talked a little bit about this in Episode Four on anxiety, but it's essentially, anxiety is fear, it's fear for the future. When we have an anxious thought, it triggers fight or flight, releasing a flood of chemicals into our bodies, that turn off unnecessary functions like rational thought, the ability to calculate Pi to 16 decimal places, or wonder where our soul lives in our bodies or reason with ourselves about the lack of actual danger. So it turns on our emergency system, energy to run or fight, danger perception, quicker heart rate and breathing and so on and so on. So we're hyper alert and our brain is fixated on danger, which encourages it to think more What if anxious thoughts generating even more anxiety. Think about this for a moment in relation to how you experience anxiety and how... What the dynamics are of the anxiety prolonging and feeding itself. Love and fear are in all of us, but not both at the same moment. I experience frequent anxiety in myself, and it's a pattern I can manage but not eliminate because we can't eliminate any human emotion. I often wake in the morning in an anxious state, and so that by the way, is when I choose to self coach. Anxiety takes consciousness to step out of. We have to be aware of it. Many of us don't really think to interrupt, it's such a familiar habit and such a well played out pattern, but self coaching is really an excellent antidote to that pattern, to that habit. Bringing the anxiety to awareness and choosing to respond differently to it is where we've got all the power, because leaving it to run on auto pilot can be really unhelpful. Can't it? So this morning, I was contemplating all of these things as I cycled idly up a long hill on the way to work, and on the way up the hill, I was passed by a cyclist, then another, then another, until six had gone by, one by one each riding alone. And as I got to the top of the hill, I saw four in turn of them going through a red traffic light trying to gain ground on the other ones. And you know, I can relate to that. I used to be a triathlete and I used to have this desperate anxiety to win even when it didn't matter, I just needed to be faster than someone, anyone. Love and fear. Love and fear. And when I say love, by the way, I include generosity, praise, kindness, acceptance, connection, patience, giving, care, gentleness, grace, faith, gratitude, celebration. If hugs were a feeling, I'd include them too. And all of those are much more accessible often when we're focusing on someone we care about. And who is that for you? Can you call one to mind right now? Who's the person you care about the most, is easiest to evoke feelings of love for? And when you think about them, when you visualize them, how do you feel in that moment? How do you feel if you see them in your mind's eye thriving and excited, pleased to see you grinning and waving cheerily at you? Can you evoke that right now? Because if you can, you're feeling love right now. I personally was brought up to believe a little bit unhelpfully, that humans would attack me if they could. And I notice that I still even now drastically reduce my outreach into the world when I'm sick or in some way feeling a bit feeble or vulnerable. So my particular challenge in life has always been to embody and share love with people, I've had to work quite hard at it, and that's incidentally why coaching is such a perfect thing for me. I feel so much love for the people I work with, it's easy. They're all perfectly formed wonderful humans who like me suffer painful disconnection from a love for the self. That's burnout for you, right? No love. I had a lot of access to love these days though because I practice self coaching to build my heart muscle, to build love on purpose, and to release it into the wild. I actually have many practices to develop and share love intentionally. Another one is Reiki, a form of energy healing that transmits the universal good energy, love or light, or however you view it to the bodies of people who suffer, and I did laugh today to see Reiki described in Wikipedia as a pseudo science. We could have a whole separate podcast episode about that, hope that's one for all you doctors out there. So I use Reiki, another thing I use is Tonglen, which is a Buddhist meditation practice to awaken compassion. What we do is we sit in meditation and with each in breath we take in other people's pain, and with each out breath we send them relief. It kind of reverses our usual logic of avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. We visualize people who suffer perhaps in a specific way, like famine, war, loneliness, addiction, cancer, or perhaps in a way that we ourselves suffer. You could practice it for all people suffering anxiety or burnout in this moment, for example. So we imagine taking in their pain with every in breath and sending out whatever will benefit them on the out breath, and in the process, we become liberated from all patterns of selfishness. Instead of turning away from suffering, we turn towards it. We begin to feel love for both ourselves and others, we begin to take care of ourselves and others. If you practice Tonglen, you may notice that the first result is you feel more love. When you think a loving thought, the feeling of love is in your body, feeding you all those happy hormones, and when you're the beneficiary, you'll have more love to give, an idea I'm the very fond of, I must say. Love isn't a finite resource to be hoarded, we don't need to hang on to it in case no more comes, and because that's where... If we hoard it, that's where attachment styles of love come from, which are selfish and stifling. I have discovered it sometimes works better to offer love to myself first to increase my own feeling of love, and so my capacity and willingness to share it with others. But if that doesn't work, if I can't access love for myself in the moment, and I know this is true for many people in burnout, it's also worth trying this practice like Tonglen for somebody, somebody who's very easy to love, a child, a pet, a cherished grandparent, because when I'm not stoking the fires of love in myself, I notice its loss. When love dies in me, my spirit crashes with it. No man can live without love. One final practice for generating love for yourself, and there are very, very many of these, including any kind of meditation, by the way, is self appreciation, and as I say that, I imagine all my clients rolling their eyes when they hear it, because it's one of my favorite practices to teach because it works so amazingly well. I mentioned it earlier in Episode six on self trust as well. Excuse me. And to do it, all you do is write down 10 things you appreciate about yourself each day, different things every day for 30 days. Try it, see what you find out, because to recover from burnout, you'll fundamentally need to start being nicer to yourself and develop a more loving relationship with yourself. If you don't do this work, no one else can do it for you. If you can't generate love, you can't receive love either. If you don't nourish your own soul, recovery is going to be troublesome. So whatever your relationship is with love and fear, if you're in burnout, it will bear some inspection, I'd say, and a tune up probably wouldn't hurt either, because if you don't love, accept, care for, approve, cherish and nourish yourself, then I fear for your suffering. Starving yourself of love, is it working so far? And warning, loving yourself might benefit from self forgiveness, for everything, everything you've ever done ever, because there's zero upside to holding out on yourself on forgiveness for things you did in the past that you can't change anyway. So when you're thinking about love, self forgiveness can be an excellent place to start. I basically teach all my clients to bring forth the love that's already in them by first of all, reducing their negative feelings, thoughts, and experiences of life, because for you, if you're deep into burnout right now, the idea of love and generating more love, is probably a little bit far fetched. It could be. You might see it as a little bit out of your reach right now, so in order to bring out love, we have to first of all, address our negative experiences, our negative thoughts, our negative feelings. It's like kind of weeding the garden to make room for new shoots to grow, and you too can sprout new love guaranteed. So that's what I have for you today on love and fear. Next week in the podcast, we're gonna talk about pleasure and pain, you'd be glad to know. Thank you for so... Thank you so much for listening. I appreciate you being here. You can visit my website at dexrandall.com for the show notes, and please subscribe and rate this podcast. If you're in burnout and ready to recover, come and join my Burnout to Leadership programme, 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.