As an entrepreneur, you’re out there creating something special and carving your own path. That isn’t always easy. In fact, it rarely is. You’re likely putting a lot of pressure on yourself and taking on too much work. That’s why you might be uniquely set up to experience some degree of burnout.
Valerie Hamaker is a professional counselor, private practice owner, and host of the Generation Xhausted podcast. I’m very happy she’s taking over the show today to share her fantastic eight-step process for healing and managing burnout.
These Teaching Friday episodes, hosted by members of SPI Pro, are jam-packed with actionable tips, and this one is no exception.
Valerie’s approach to burnout recovery is based on her therapy practice and goes much deeper than the typical solutions. She sees burnout as a symptom of being estranged from where we're supposed to be in our lives. We’re very lucky to have her walk us through every step we need to take to begin the healing process and come out on the other end with a new perspective.
This is an important talk, perhaps a game-changer for many of us. Make sure you listen in and take action!
Today's Guest Host
Valerie Hamaker is a professional counselor, private practice owner, podcast host (Generation Xhausted), motivational speaker, and passionate educator of all things burnout healing and personal/relational transformation. She enjoys the autonomy of a thriving counseling practice, which affords her the ability to engage in the training and instruction of individuals and groups in multiple settings, including the recent launch of her online membership community that allows her to scale her passion for helping as many people as possible with pervasive struggles with burnout in all areas of their life. Valerie is thrilled to be a part of SPI Pro where she is learning a great deal about scaling her business as a way to maximize the good that she can do in a world reeling with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Valerie's online membership website
Generation Xhausted Community Connection on Facebook
SPI 594: How to Heal Burnout with Valerie Hamaker
Pat Flynn: Hey, hey, it's Pat here. You're about to listen to something a little different on the show today. It's not our usual Friday format where I follow up on Wednesday's episode. Don't worry. Those aren't going away forever. Just a little break to bring in something even more special. In my opinion. And this episode in the next few are a part of our teaching Friday series, which we do with our SPI pro members.
We have an incredibly talented pool of people within SPI. Why not give our pros, the spotlight and teach you here on the podcast. Every once in a while, it's just one of the perks of being a part of pro in fact, is this possibility with each episode, you get to hear a different pro, teach you something special from their area of expertise.
Without further ado, I'll let them take it away. Oh, and if you want to find out more about SPI pro and be a part of it, you can go ahead and apply it. SPI pro.com.
Announcer: Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it's all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your guest host, she's solar powered and water powered. Her favorite form of sun and water play is behind the ski boat. Valerie Hamaker.
Valerie Hamaker: Hey everyone. My name is Valerie Hammacher and I am generally the host of a couple of podcasts. And today I am so excited to have the chance to visit with you guys, my fellow fans of Smart Passive Income Podcast. And so here today, I am going to be showcasing and sharing with you some things that I love to talk about. That are really a deep part of my own work, my own passion and the desire that I have to serve you, my fellow entrepreneurs on Smart Passive Income. I am a therapist and more so than that, I am also an online community facilitator. My online community is called Generation Xhausted and the whole focus of the work that I do with individuals and entrepreneurs and just anyone who is out there needing and wanting help is I work with people in the field of burnout recovery. Okay. So your out there, if you're on Smart Passive Income, you're probably an entrepreneur and you're probably someone who is a hard worker. You're committed. You're dedicated.
You are, in my opinion, one of those brave people out there who are doing something very, very creative, and you're not necessarily someone who follows all of the, you know, the rules and you want to go out there and do something special, different, interesting, unique, and something that where you're carving your path and making a difference in the world.
That's why I like this community so much. However, at the same time, You are probably uniquely set up to experience some degree of burnout, just because by nature of the fact that you're really motivated, that you've decided to start your own business, that you're a hard worker. And so what I want to do today is I want to offer to you sort of the outline of how I work with people in burnout recovery, because I am pretty happy to say I don't do burnout recovery the way you might expect me to do it, or the way you might see it if you were just to Google burnout recovery. I'm a big fan of the bubble bath. I'm a big fan of the trip to the islands. I enjoy both of them quite a bit, but that is not what I help people with my understanding and my study as a trauma therapist takes us from burnout, which is just the symptom of the problem, and we go a hundred layers deeper than the typical solutions to burnout. When I work with people, the way I see this is that they show up in my office, in my private practice, or they show up in my online community suffering from some kinds of symptoms.
Oftentimes, these are symptomatic of relationships that they have. They can be intimate relationships with a marriage. They can be struggles with elderly parents, with small children, with adolescent children, with work colleagues. It can be struggles even with a religious institution. It can be struggles that they're having in the larger life that they live.
And they basically show up as symptoms of what we call burnout. To me, it's more symptoms of just being estranged from where we're supposed to be going and who we are and our body at some point in time just kind of gives up and we get overwhelmed. We get over tired. We lose that zest for life. So let's just go ahead and start by talking about the approach.
That I take when someone comes into my community and this has been, of course exacerbated, I started this online community with the help of Smart Passive Income because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I started noticing for my own private practice that I had more people needing therapy than I had the bandwidth to give.
And more people who were suffering and struggling from mental health issues because of the massive amounts of struggle and transition that we were all going through. In our homes in our families, in our workplaces because of the COVID pandemic. And so in my effort to scale the work that I am so passionate about, I found Smart Passive Income and I launched this online community where I help people struggle with the issues of burnout. The way I do this is I follow an eight step model that I created myself visually. It looks like an octagon and it is eight steps that we take to go from the beginnings of, so people show up exhausted, overwhelmed, tired. Really not feeling emotionally, spiritually, mentally, psychologically well. And they want help. And so with this eight step diagram, I walk them through. Why they're feeling the way they're feeling. And then we, we together work on how they can become healed from burnout. And so I'm going to walk you guys through this eight step model today.
The very, very first one, in my opinion is probably the most important ones. These are called the eight Rs of burnout recovery. And the first one is: remember. What I think about when I talk about this. This is where I, I come from a place of deep spirituality. When I say that I don't mean faith tradition or religion necessarily, but the foundation of the work that I do with people is to help them recognize and remember that each of us has a deep and profound amount of inner wisdom.
And that we know innately who we are supposed to become and why we are here on this earth. The very best way I like to describe that is to think about something called the acorn theory, which is this idea that each of us is like an acorn. And we are filled with the potential to become a strong and powerful Oak tree.
And when we're born, we have this deep wisdom sense in us of what this amazing potential is. The problem is that most of us don't have the capacity while I should say none of us have the capacity to really know this from early on. And so we're surrounded by people and institutions and society and our culture that isn't so sure that we should be an Oak tree after all. They actually have some different ideas for us. Some people well-meaning even sometimes may think that we would be a really great Palm tree, or they may think that we might be a really beautiful Christmas tree. And so we go about the world as little people forgetting that we are this beautiful Oak tree in the making that we're an acorn.
And we start handing over our identity to people and ideas that are handed to us because by golly, what we want more than anything is we want to belong and we want to fit in. And so at the beginning of any burnout recovery work that I do with the people that come to my online community, we have a synchronous group gathering each week is I always return back to this element.
That's number one concept. The first step of my recovery is to remember that we each individually have the capacity empower to know. Who we are and why we're here in this world now, why does this matter? You're probably wondering, okay. How in the world does this apply to burn out? Well, my answer to that, as it applies to burnout in every way, shape and form, because the reason why we burn out in a nutshell is because we've forgotten who we are.
We forgotten why we're here. We have forgotten our purpose in life, and we have spent a vast majority of our lives trying to do and be for someone or something else. Okay. Now, how does this show up? Some of the scenarios that people bring to me because I have been as well, I'm a therapist, as I mentioned before, but I'm also a corporate coach and I've worked with a lot of professionals and entrepreneurs.
Okay. So some of the ways that they show up in their burnout. To work with me. These are just some examples, but there are, you know, there are many more, but a lot of people come in because they feel exhausted. They're overworking. They spend too many hours at work. They're not able or willing to take vacations either because the profession itself won't allow it or because they won't allow themselves to slow down.
And other reason that people come in professionally is because they just don't have the ability to say no, they don't have good, healthy professional boundaries. Sometimes people come in and they're burned out because they straight up hate their jobs, but they don't know how to get out. Another reason why people come in for burnout recovery work is because they struggle with persistent, ongoing conflict with their colleagues, whether it be people that they manage or people that manage them, or just the people that are in their industry, they just can't seem to get along with them.
Some people are consumed with stress about money. And this mind you doesn't necessarily mean people that don't have a lot of money. Sometimes people have plenty of money, but they have this almost this like this overwhelmed sense that there will never be enough. They live in this perpetual state of financial scarcity and it's burning them out.
Other people struggle with issues of authority, no matter who their, their boss. They can't get along with them. Some people have struggles with personal organization. Some people cannot complete deadlines and they feel an enormous amount of anxiety. No matter what the responsibility is, and they're burned out because they're constantly feeling this state of stress that they can't finish, what they began.
Other people struggle with overwhelm. Other people struggle with chronic underwhelm. Others struggle with their own lack of integrity that they feel like because of the work that they're in, the industry that they're in, the company that they're in, they feel that they are self betraying and they're acting in ways that they are not.
And generally speaking, when these people come in, they show up with physiological symptoms, psychological symptoms. They're not oftentimes taking good care of their bodies because the stress that it takes to sort of be living in these situations, professionally is exhausting. Most of the time too, when people struggle with professional situations of this nature, it isn't isolated to professional situations.
If they're having relational situations at work, oftentimes they're also struggling with relational situations at home. And so when I work with somebody in the area of burnout, I like to hear what they come in for, but then we take deep dives and try to go deeper into what are the origins of these struggles and how can they come to know themselves, get back to that original acorn so that they can begin to have the discernment to dictate the, their own destiny to discover that they don't have to do all the things that they thought they had to do based on what somebody else told them for a long time ago. Okay. So number one, in my model of burnout recovery, as I mentioned before, is remembering, remembering, innately that we have the answers within ourselves.
Sometimes that takes an enormous amount of paradigm shifting where people don't really recognize that they have some sort of an innate sense. Sometimes people have actually been taught that it's not safe for them to think that they have internal and innate wisdom. And so that right there is in and of itself a big job that we have to do in my burnout recovery community, but we returned to it all the time. So it's not like a one and done.
Okay, I'm going to move on now to number two. And I work with people to help them realize the origins of their misconceptions about themselves. Okay. So let me just illustrate this. I'm going to use one burnout example and I'm going to carry it all the way through the eight steps.
Okay. So I'm going to just talk about somebody who in the professional realm. It's a yes man. Somebody who just can't say no, they can't make boundaries. They work too long. They work too hard. They take on responsibilities that are not theirs to take, and they're just constantly exhausted and they feel like their life is very, very out of balance.
And so they come into me and they say, these are my problems. This is what's going on. I'm burned out. Can you help me? At the very beginning, of course we begin with the foundation of remembering their innate capacity to heal that I'm not their guru. I'm not going to tell them what to do or how to fix this thing, but they are going to begin to cultivate their own wisdom, self that they're going to come back into contact with that true self who knows exactly who they are and what they're here in this life to do professionally and otherwise.
Then we start realizing what it is in their childhood stories and who those most important relationships are that led them down the path of feeling incompetent or unable to say no. So what we'll do, and this is where my training as a trauma therapist comes in handy is we start to realize that we are all the product of our culture, our culture, meaning our parents, our grandparents, or aunts and uncles, our siblings, our cousins, our neighbors, our school teachers, our bus drivers, our soccer teams.
We are all the product of our church. Of the government around us of the year where we born of the things that we watched on TV and listened to on the radio of the YouTube videos, we watched that we are all the combination and the construction of a massive amount of data that comes in. And we have to start realizing that that's when we began to get lost is when we began to sort of take in all of this data that told us that we were supposed to become what we were supposed to look like, how we were supposed to behave, what schools were supposed to go to. What it meant to be okay. Especially in our own little family and community tribe.
So in the case of someone who says, I can't say no, this is when we start moving into realization, where did you learn that you couldn't say now, where did this come from? Because there are others out there that can say no all the time and they don't have that struggle.
Now they have another struggle, but your struggle is unique to you. And this is what is burning you out professionally. Where did you learn to not say no, an example of someone's response maybe. And this actually just came up in my online community a couple of weeks ago. It was one woman said to me, I had a mother who never said no. And she always taught us that that was the appropriate way to behave. That was how someone was supposed to live as they were supposed to be. So self-sacrificing that saying, no meant that they were selfish and that they were bad. If we go into my step, number two is we begin to realize what we have been downloading outside of our consciousness.
Sometimes beginning way back into our early childhoods, before we even have conscious memories, we're downloading all sorts of information about what it means to be acceptable in our tribe. So number one in my eight step model is to remember our innate wisdom. Number two is to realize where did we come by these crazy ideas that are getting us stuck and keeping us and burning us out.
Number three in my eight step model of burnout recovery is I help people actually go back in and revisit specific key instances and stories where they really had these ideas. These lies embedded inside of them. So it may just be, so let me just stay with my example of the person who cannot say no. And let's just say, as a young child, this little girl, in this example, she didn't feel comfortable going to let's just say she didn't feel comfortable participating in some sort of an activity.
Leslie. She was being bullied. And so she comes to mom and dad and she says, I don't want to go. I'm not comfortable. But mom is noticing that these are some neighbors and friends that have some status in their little community. And mom says, daughter, it's not okay for you to say no. Like we need to keep our standing in the neighborhood. It's important that we get along. We don't want people to think badly about us. And so for her own reasons, and because mom herself doesn't know how to say, no, she imposes on this little girl. It's not okay to say no. And so this little girl goes into the situation, extraordinarily stressed out, and she does what she needs to do to fit into the tribe.
And this is a key experience that embeds in her that for people to like us and for us to be okay in the world, we have to always say yes, and we basically also have to ignore how we feel. What our body's telling us we should do. And we just ignore all of those wisdoms parts of us inside, and we do whatever we need to do to get along and be acceptable.
This may be an origin story that helps inform why in, you know, 25, 30, 40 years later, we are in a professional realm where we feel paralyzed to speak up for ourselves. So in my burnout community, we remember our innate. We realize the impact that these primary early relationships had on informing what we felt we needed to do and who we needed to become to make other people happy.
And then we go back in and we revisit some of those key origin stories so that we can move on to the next phase, which is we begin to reject. Number four is rejecting lies about who we need to become and how we need to behave. Because most of the time when we burn out it's because we have moved so far away from developing into that beautiful Oak tree from the little acorn where we began.
We've oftentimes by the time we burn out, it's 15, 20, 30 years later, and we're completely astray from who we are to become. We have put on costumes where, you know, I'm going to stay with my acorn metaphor. We have really tried to force ourselves into becoming a Palm tree or a Poplar or some other kind of entity that is not ourselves. And when we're trying to be something that we're not, it's exhausting, it's psychologically exhausting. It's physically exhausting. It's spiritually exhausting because we are innate beings are saying, this is not who I am. This is killing me. Please stop. And so we burn out because it's basically the fire within us is getting dimmer and dimmer because we're not becoming who we are here in this world to become.
Okay. Let's move on. So number one is, remember number two is realize. Those are those origin relationships. Number three is revisiting those very important stories that sort of cemented in some ideas about. That are not helping us that are burning us out and getting in our way in our professional lives here.
Now, the next one is we begin to reject those parts of ourselves that are not, that are not us. And so what we have to do is we start having, we have to start practicing. We have to start practicing saying no, going into the workplace, managing a lot of the anxiety of behaving in a way that is not characteristic to us.
Sometimes it really undoes other people around us because they're used to us having no boundaries. Always doing what we're asked to do, even if it's not in our best interest. And so it's going to take some variation of reconciliation. Okay. So what does reconciliation mean? Sometimes it's not so easy in more complicated situations to just straight up walk into a place and just reject left and right. Sometimes it's not even actually appropriate. We have to sort of live in the nuances. We have to recognize that in the professional world, even if we aren't comfortable doing every single thing that other people want us to do, sometimes there are some things we do need to do, and that it may not have anything to do with origin stories or childhood, but we have to just sort of learn how to discern the right amount of know and the right amount of, yes, this takes a lot of psychological maturity.
We have to sit in the messy middle and determine what to reject. And the next step incidentally is what to ratify, what to hold onto to make sure our yeses, our passionate yeses, and that we do what we love. We do what lights us up. And we do what we are truly here to become. The problem is we cannot know what those yeses are and what those nos are right off the bat, because we're developing and growing those beautiful souls.
So it takes a lot of messiness and recognizing that this is a messy process where we have to reconcile and keep circling back to who we are, who are, what we really truly want to accomplish in this world. And we start taking true ownership of our growth and development, and this comes up over and over again. That's the good news is in the professional world, which I'm focusing on today with us Smart Passive Income fans, like myself, is we have to keep practicing.
We have to recognize that we have been acting oftentimes very much in autopilot and that we just say yes, because that's how we're supposed to do it. And we feel miserable and we resent other people and we're frustrated with ourselves. And so when we go through this burnout recovery process, we have to pause frequently.
And recognize that we don't exactly know how to do what we're doing, because we're basically reprogramming our brains. The reject and the ratify process is really, really tricky and it takes a long time and it takes a lot of false starts and it takes a lot of messing up and regrouping and starting over again.
Okay. So. Let's start at the beginning. We've got, remember remembering who we are realizing the influences that estranged us from ourselves, revisiting those origin stories. Then we move on to beginning to learn how to have the courage to reject the things that are burning. In the process, we're reconciling how to manage things that are not simply rejectable.
And also recognizing that we want to ratify certain things. We have to learn how to say yes to the right things and no to the right things. And that takes me to the seventh part of my eight part octagon. And that is we have to renegotiate a new kind of relationship with our work setting in this case.
Okay. So let's just say. We have decided what we want to do and what we can really lean into and enjoy in our work setting. And what's appropriate to even say yes to, we've also recognized and we're cultivating the courage to reject the parts of the work where we're saying yes, way too often, where we're hurting ourselves, where we're burning ourselves out, where we're missing too many family events, losing sleep. We're not living a balanced life. So we're knowing better how to reconcile what we throw out and what we hold on to. Now, the renegotiate piece, number seven is what inevitably we have to do because we have to manage the discomfort that we cause in other people, because we've decided to stick around in this professional setting, in my particular example, and people do not know who the heck we are. They are completely disoriented because we have always been the one who has said yes. And so they've thought they've known us and they knew the old version of us, but what they're not knowing, they're only seeing evidence of is that we are changing.
We're waking up, we're becoming more accountable. We're taking ownership of our own lives. And the unfortunate part of about that from the perspective of the outsider is sometimes people took advantage of and benefited quite a bit from our not knowing ourselves and from our doing behaviors that ultimately burned us out.
So here we. From the outside, we look pretty much the same, but from the inside and the way we are navigating the world, we completely are behaving differently. Now it's time to renegotiate new kinds of relationships with people that knew who we used to be when we were acting without any boundaries. When we were acting in ways that were burning us out, when we were acting in congruent with our true self.
And this is where we have to have the courage and the capacity to have hard conversations and to live sometimes outside of the validation of people who wish they had the old versions of us because it benefited them. And so this renegotiation process, once again is messy, it's uncomfortable. That's why group work is so important because we need the support of people outside of our work settings to give us the courage and confidence to help us move into those work settings and manage challenging situations, relationally in ways that are integrity based. Okay. So that takes us to the very last of my eight step paradigm of burnout recovery. And that is reconnecting what we're doing actually all along in all eight of these steps is we are slowly but surely trying to reconnect with that inner wisdom self.
We all come equipped from the gate, from the starting line, with wisdom, with truth, with goodness, with the capacity to serve others and in, so doing, becoming the best versions of ourselves. You guys, when we are congruent with why we're here in this life, we don't get burned out because life itself lights us up when we are on the path doing the thing that we are uniquely equipped to do, we don't burn out. And it's such an honor and a privilege to be in connection with entrepreneurs like yourselves. Many of whom I have run across in Smart Passive Income. To be with people that if you're an entrepreneur, most of the time you're setting out and doing something bold and brave because you feel called to it.
And I'm, I honor that in you. So if you're burning out, all that probably means is taking a couple steps back and reevaluating if and how and where you need to get back into your center, get back into your core, your true. And check in with yourself to see what it is that you're struggling with and walk yourself through these eight steps, because I guarantee I've done it with many people.
Now, as we walk through this process together, we become more congruent. It blesses our family lives. It blesses our relationships. It helps us thrive in our profession and it ends up being really, truly the gift that keeps on giving because when we go deep into our stories and really do the psychological work of finding out what it is, that's burning us out, the burnout heals not just at work, but it heals in every area of our lives.
Okay. My friends I'm so grateful to have been with you today. I would love to have as many of you as are willing, wanting and interested in going into this deep dive, into your own burnout recovery. If this is something that interests you, I invite you to come and check out my online community.
It can be found at the website is ExhaustedGen.com. And you can also find me if you want to email me questions, interest wanting to know more about me. You can catch me at [email protected]. You can also catch me every week on my own podcast Generation Xhausted.
It's so good to be with you guys. And I hope this has resonated with you. If you feel like it's time for you to dig deep into your burn out. I am here for you and I am just really excited to serve you. Thank you all and we'll talk to you later. Bye.
Pat Flynn: Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at SmartPassiveIncome.com. I'm your host Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess. Our series producer is David Grabowski. And our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media. We'll catch you in the next session.