The lovely Dr. Jennifer Howard, gifted psychotherapist, spiritual teacher and all around sharp ass (like a smart ass only smarter), and I befriended each other after admiring each other’s Tweets for a year or so.
Dr. Jennifer and I recorded a half convo/ half rant about why we get stuck, why we burn out, and what it might have to do with our energy patterns. Here’s the transcribed, annotated version, part 1.
We whined chatted for a minute (or fifteen) about work challenges and our bowels, then launched into the first question:
Jen Louden: Dr. Jennifer, you have the Ph.D., o wise one, tell me, how do you help people— especially soloprenuers — when they’re feeling utterly stuck and burned out?
Dr. Jennifer Howard: (Laughs, then takes a deep breath and wonders what she has gotten herself into) Jen, you know there are so many layers to feeling stuck and burned out. One layer is that I would have my clients look at their business in general and how it is organized. Then, I would ask how they’ve run their energy in the past in their lives.
Jen makes little murmuring noises, which would be very annoying were you actually listening to the recording. So be glad you aren’t.
Jen: What do you mean by run your energy? Immediately my little ears perk up.
Dr. Jennifer: We all run our energy in different ways that either serve us or burn us out. We distort our auras according to our psychological defenses. Your characterology (isn’t that a cool word?) will habitually block your energy flow. The way you close down different parts of your body – the way you aren’t in your legs (How did you know that about me Dr. Jennifer, Jen thinks and shivers)– different chakras get out of balance.
You know, a lot of entrepreneurs are very high-energy, driven people and that comes from personal strengths as well as different childhood woundings.
Jen wonders what her childhood wounds are because she is the most driven Comfort Queen she’s ever met. Did someone beat her with very plush pillows? Jen searches her memory.
These might cause them to feel not good enough so there can be an experience of perpetual chasing something, that terrible hungry ghost feeling of not enough. “I’m not enough, it’s not enough, gotta get more, gotta get more…”
It’s hard to find balance unless you have dealt with what’s keeping you from embodying it to begin with.
Dr. Jennifer thinks about how never ending that hungry ghost feeling can be. Jen does the same on her end.
Dr. Jennifer: Now…then there’s other people who do the opposite and they don’t generally become entrepreneurs. They’re people who hold back on life. They might look at the lives of entrepreneurs and say, ‘I’m not taking all that on. Let me just get a job.’ Who’d blame them?
General cackling. Moment of silence while both J’s consider their secret work fantasies: Jen’s is working in a fancy cheese store where she can be a cheese snob; Dr. Jennifer’s is teaching dance classes.
Jen: That’s a very interesting thought, that people who do decide to be entrepreneurs might have a different set of challenges to deal with around burnout. We might need to learn more ways to ground ourselves.
Dr. Jennifer: And to learn to be reasonable – I know for myself, sometimes I can take on more than is humanly possible.
Jen snorts her agreement. It sounds like a piglet snuffling. Dr. Jennifer graciously laughs. Both are wondering if they will ever get this “humanly possible” limit in their life times.
Jen: So how would you coach me to stop doing more than is humanly possible?
Jen is always talking to experts and trying to get free advice. Shameless self-help hussy.
Dr. Jennifer: I would ask you to talk about when it all began. Go back to when you remember this starting. Did mom and dad say or imply you weren’t good enough? Maybe you had to compete with other siblings or other people in your community? I would want you to look at what the driving force was back then, that now has the negative consequences that you can’t listen to yourself.
For me, I think it is based on having been on asthma medication as a kid, which was like uppers. This really distorted my own ability to tap into my own limits.
Jen: For me it’s a combination of wanting to be like my Dad, having a ton of creative energy and nobody to help me harness it as a kid, but also getting shamed a bit for being so big, so much. I still have a lot of creative shame.
Dr. Jennifer makes empathetic sounds and Jen feels less ashamed.
Dr. Jennifer: I think it was my own learned biological pushing for breath, feeling the meds in my body and waiting to live in a more normal way. I’d have this engine driving me even when I was exhausted.
For many of us on a real practical level, it’s also about infrastructure. The internal infrastructure and the external infrastructure of support and systems.
Jen: Somebody said to me once, ‘You have to sometimes slow down to speed up later.’ It really makes sense and what I love about what you just said is that if you’re having a hard time figuring out how to ground and slow down you might need to untangle an old pattern and you might need mechanical help, like a good VA or a bookkeeper.
So let’s say if you’re constantly planning too much and you decide that you need a better calendar system and a better VA– you get those things in place and things don’t shift, then you know there’s an underlying pattern that you’re dealing with.
Here is where Part 1 ends. And you want more.
Part 2 continues tomorrow on Dr. Jennifer Howard’s blog. On behalf of both Jennifer’s (one of whom is me), I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into our brains and you’ll join Dr. Jennifer for more peeking tomorrow.