33. REFUSAL: Stage On of Burnout recovery

Jun 23, 2023

'Autistic burnout'?
Afraid of reaching and aspiring because of the inevitable crash and burn?
Overly familiar with over-adapting and recovery cycles?

This episode is for you... and it's about step one:

the "NO";
the de-consenting;

this is how healing can begin. The decision to put your own needs above the demands to push past your own limits is the first step to increasing those limits. Carving out extreme boundaries so you can come back into connection with your true inner boundaries.

However, we can sometimes be afraid of the NO, of rest, of stopping, of exiting the approved lifestyles...

And so sibling, know that before it starts to feel good again, it might have to feel worse... and thats okay. You're okay.


Hello, sibling, thank you so much for spending the time taking the time out of your day to listen to this podcast, I just want to thank you and send you love. This podcast has now nearly 10,000 downloads which blows my mind

has listeners in places like Kenya, hello Kenya! Sweden, Australia,

all around the world. And I feel really lucky, I feel really grateful that I get to do this, I get to talk to you, I get to share my ideas, I get to have some kind of impact on what you're experiencing, that I hope is helpful, that I hear from you is helpful. And it's deeply fulfilling to me because of how lost and how hard things felt how alienated and alone, I felt in a lot of experiences. And so if you're feeling affirmed by anything that I share, just know that it's mutual. And the fact that you feeling affirmed that you're feeling seen by it is also a way that I'm feeling seen. So I feel really connected to you. I just wanted to thank you for listening.

And this episode, I'm going to give a little bit of a re framing a different language for the three stages of the solar system that I offer as the cycle of healing, of change of transforming and becoming who you're here to be. And this the first stage, I normally call it the tunnel of earn or unlearning who you're not. And I'm going to today talk about it in terms of the refusal. And this is because those of you that are working with me that made the decision to

work with me and use that as an use the kind of containers I offer as a space of your transformation, a space to be held in that change. There is a pattern that I notice, right. And it's a pattern that that decision, that decision to change things that decision to heal that decision to refocus your life. Right, that decision to no longer keep over adapting and self negating that decision to put yourself first that often begins with a refusal.

And I think the refusal, the know, the D consenting is really what is at the start of this process, right. And I want to talk about it and just open it out, because I want to offer it as stage one of burnout, recovery, or any process of healing. So this is going to be relevant if you're wanting healing change, or some kind of recovery, or you're experiencing burnout,

or you have experienced burnout, and you're

really afraid of it happening again. And the impact of that fear is that you're no longer reaching aspiring and expecting things of yourself. The fear has become a reason not to do things, right.

And for some of you, it's more that your current life, maybe it's okay, maybe there are good things, but it was hard enough to create because it involved

masking or over adapting or self negating. And just maintaining it is having you at your limits, right? And so the idea of changing your life or dreaming bigger, feels like it would add more of the same

and therefore not be possible.

And another version of this is just knowing burnout cycles well, and you're not quite sure how not to end up in one again.

So I'm going to offer this as stage one. And I might follow this up with the other two stages, but I think this is the most important one.

So how I want to define this really is that it starts with

some kind of idea that you have to override your own limits.

Right. So somewhere along the line is the idea that you putting yourself first, that doesn't get to be your reality.

So that's going to be slightly different depending on who you are and what your context is. But that's the beginning. And it can be very, very hard to see that that was the logic, right? That that's underpinning some of the decisions

that you your relationship to you to your limits to your own body, to your own health,

that that somewhere along the line came second to something else.

And before we go further, I just want to acknowledge that that might actually be a literal, like material reality that you're in right now, you may have dependents, you may have costs to cover rent to pay, mortgage interest rates that have gone way up, things that you're having to deal with, where you literally actually don't have a choice. And you are in the survival, and you are in the main management and the maintenance of

your own existence, or people around you. And so

that is really important to acknowledge, because this isn't, this isn't a reason to judge yourself, right. And you may be in the reality where you have to keep going.

But when we make it conscious, it means that it can become something that we feel that we have agency in, right. And to do that I want to offer a particular framing or way of thinking about burnout. And that burnout, what's going on is that your body has a message that it's trying to get through to you. It's like a red light flashing system overload, abort mission, activate parachute, like, get out, stop, slow down.

But burn out isn't the message. It's the resistance to that message.

Right? So you're aware that the message is there, there's a signal coming through. And it's overriding that message and keeping going. That creates burnout.

Now, as I said, some of you that may be your literal reality right now. And isn't it amazing that our bodies have this ability to override our own limits, right?

So burnout is created by the resistance to the messages of your own body.


sometimes it is that that is your current circumstance, and you're just having to deal with something.

And sometimes it's that that's your default operating mode.

That overriding those signals of your body is just how you get shit done.

So we want to be conscious of that, right? Because this very amazing,

incredible ability that the body has to reach its own limits and keep going, if necessary. Like that's something really amazing.

And it's something that we're designed for, right that if we have to, we can keep going, we can dip into the energy stores in ourselves and keep going.

But what we have to also acknowledge that that has a cost. When we keep pushing past our own limits, there is a cost.

And the cost is that those limits of what our body is able to take on start to shrink.

Right, it actually starts to have less ability less room less energy.

So this overriding of your own limits, in a biological sense is meant for the short term, right? It's meant for only survival in extreme circumstances, not your day to day working life.


sometimes we are in circumstances where we are having to use this

survival strategy that is built into our bodies to get through. And sometimes, that's just become a pattern that we use to, that we don't even know we're operating with.

And as someone who is human, who has, at some point in your life been taught

that pushing past your own limits was necessary for belonging, and staying with the pack, or staying with your parents, your caregivers, the people you were dependent on,

that pushing past your own limits was a requirement, right? Or you may have also had caregivers who modelled that for you, who were pushing past their own limits. And who gave you that as an example of this is what life involves, right. Or maybe you've been around people who will have ancestors, relatives who had a history of survival against the odds. Right, he had to deal with harm, displacement, chronic stress, extreme circumstances, extreme lack of resources.

Right, so these patterns of pushing past don't always come from just our own experience, they also come from the people that are around us, the nervous systems around us, the examples around us, the culture around us. And what can happen is that if we have that pattern of ignoring those internal limits, and the signals of our bodies as a default,

why, because on some level, somewhere along the line, we were taught that that was necessary,

then it can just become how we operate.

And so how we operate, then just results in the body being in this cycle of not efficiently and effectively using energy, because you're trying to be in survival. And at the same time, you're trying to be in homeostasis. And this can show up in other areas of our physical health, right. And so

the body has to start messaging in other ways, there are other things that are being impacted by what's having to happen in your cells, in order to produce energy that your body isn't ready to give. So aside from the very practical, the immediate

circumstances that you might have to deal with, to push past your own limits, the survival, the emergency the,

the difficult things that we go through, that should be temporary, that should be short.

Aside from that, if you know that you're living in a pattern of cycling, in and out of burnout, or even just the micro version of that, where you get super into what you're doing. You're like deep diving, there's like all this massive amounts of energy. And you're in the thrill of it, and the intensity. And the only way you know how to get out of it is when you crash and burn. That's also the same pattern.

So the solution starts with stage one with that refusal with saying no, withdrawing consent,

taking things off your plate,

and maybe finding another way to support yourself, or another structure,

another way of supporting you, in this moment in this temporary refusal.

Right, and I say temporary, because sometimes we don't want to go into the refusal. We don't want to listen to the messages of our body because we think that that's a thing that we will just then get into. And we'll never be able to come back to what we were doing and have energy again, alone too often. No, it's temporary. You've got to come back inside your limits and come back into relationship with them, for them to expand. And that's a biological reality.

Right? If you want to go deeper, you can look up something called a window of tolerance.

Right? This is a biological,

physical reality that you have to come back inside

your bandwidth and come back inside your limits in order to grow them. And that when you push past them, you actually shrink those limits.

So that temporary refusal, that temporary Cancun

in which you're going to undergo a transformation, right? A reorganisation of your internal self, in your relationship with your own limits, and the signals in your body.

That's a temporary thing. But creating it might mean going against the grain of other people's ideas of what's acceptable, what you should do, the idea that it's giving up, or it's being weak,

right, and I want to just offer you that it's the strongest thing, it requires enormous character strength to decide to put your own needs above other people's negative assumptions or projections.

Right, that is a sign of strength that isn't giving up.

And then another element of this is sometimes allowing yourself to finally rest,

can first of all feel worse?

Right, when we start listening to the signals of the body, those signals are painful, they don't feel good, right, we can feel worse, we can feel more confused and all over the place and chaotic and discombobulated. Because we're coming back down through stress energy, right, we're processing, we're metabolising stress energy. And we have to go back through the sensations of that, and feel worse, before we can feel better. And sometimes when we're doing that, that coming back down, and that feeling worse, can feel like a loss of agency, it can feel like a loss of power, it can feel like a loss of energy.

And it's sometimes that we're in this mode of Go, go, go go go. Because we're trying to resist those feelings, that sensation of

what feels like or maybe associated with a loss of agency, right.

And so sometimes we don't want to feel it, and we kick ourselves back into the stress zone. Because that feels better. It feels like power and energy and agency and getting stuff done and fighting and doing right. So

sometimes that sense of of it feeling weak, it feeling like giving up is a message from your body, where that's just been the association that you've had with allowing yourself to rest has felt like less powerful than fighting with life dealing with it doing responding, reacting, and being in a kind of stress frenzy. So

so that rest might not feel good. In the beginning, it might actually be the most uncomfortable. And this is that tunnel of honour aspect of it, right. The uncomfortableness of going against the grain of your own patterning of your socialisation and of what your body wants to do.

And in order to move through those horrible sensations, and then finally reach something that might look like rest.

Now, if this feels like you're talking to me,

I want to offer that you don't need to do it all in one go. And this is something to do gently and a little bit at a time. And is to start to create safety and new and familiarity with our what does it feel like when I'm allowing my body to

send its message and I'm actually like, being with that message?

Right? Can I kind of go there just a little bit today? Can I just listen to that message? Those signals of like bam, bam, bam.

And the pain of them and the chaos and the feeling of a loss of agency. Can I be with that a little bit

at a time. So it's not admitting defeat. It's not a loss of agency, but it can feel like it and it can be things that you've that you associate with that. So burnout, you're coming up against the messages of

a need from your body, you've hit a limit. Burnout is the resistance to it. It's the ignoring of those messages. It's overriding them. Your body's saying I can't you are saying I have to do

And the response of keeping going, can sometimes be, I don't want to feel like I can't, I don't want to stop, I don't want to rest. And my invitation to you is to consider that you can keep going.

But maybe not right now. And maybe not in that way.

And that you will be able to come back to even more energy. But first, you have to recover

your connection to your own limits that are going to expand, but only once you come back inside them first.

And the final thing I want to offer is it doesn't have to be this massive big life changing decision. Sometimes it can be little tweaks here in there, where we're reclaiming space, where we're refusing with the consenting. We're saying no, we're saying, you know, I'm going to have a temporary few months or weeks, where I'm not going to see people unless I really need to, or want to, or they're my core people that I'm intimate with.

Right? So think of it as a temporary thing. How can you reclaim some little spaces in your life, in your time in what you're doing, where it's just for you? Where can you remove some of the unnecessary stresses and demands so that there's a little bit more room for the internal structure of responding to life in a different way.

And really being conscious that when you create that room, that you don't immediately fill it with more stresses because you're avoiding the discomfort

of rest and recovery. So I hope this episode has been helpful to you and supported you to maybe look at some of the patterns that you're living in and what's going on for you there to start to have a different relationship with your own limits.




is for #autistic-status visionaries, creatives and change-makers, who are seeking a more empowering way to see, know and be yourself.