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Finding your wellness and handling criticism with Burnout Coach Dr. Haidar Al-hakim

12 Ways To Fit Self Care Into A Busy Day

Last month I recorded a super interesting and inspirational podcast about finding your wellness, with author, international speaker, ophthalmic surgeon and burnout/mindset coach Dr. Haidar Al-hakim.  You can tune in here at episode 66.

We covered so many topics that impact our joy and wellbeing levels. Once we are at a mature age in life (we are all different but as we say in this episode a key sign of our maturity is how we take on feedback), Haidar explains that it’s important to unlearn all you have learnt.  What you learnt before is useful and helpful.  But the secret to making sure you are going in the right direction is to be open to new things each and every day.  If you are a parent and you want your child to grow in the right way, you have to be open to all kinds of possibilities and to unlearn the habits that have been passed onto you that no longer serve you.  An example that springs to mind is the stuff we carry from our parents.  Perhaps you had a parent who was always critical and therefore you lack self-belief and find it really hard to take criticism, even when you are an adult.  Often this comes when we box stuff instead of working on evolving past it.  Because a fulfilling life doesn’t come from burying our heads in the sand.  There are things we need to release and face head on, in a way that feels authentic to out true self.

We also discussed tips for dealing with criticism.  I am not a fan of this word.  The strapline for my podcast is’ judge less, live more’ so go figure. As Haidar explained to me during a phone discussion recently, it is important to consider – is the criticism valid or not? It should always start with this.  We need to be aware if our ego is talking and getting in the way of really listening.  If it’s a valid criticism take it on and seek to learn and grow.  If it’s an invalid criticism, and you know deep inside of you that you have done the right thing, think about the other person.  Be curious and compassionate instead of judgemental.  Are they simply triggered and have experienced a moment of lapse?  Try and understand why they are saying it and the emotions involved.  Analyse every criticism that you get.  But remember that not all criticism is valid.  I think it’s important that we change the words we are so used to.  Can’t we remove the word criticism for good and replace it with feedback?  All feedback is valuable.  Even if it simply allows us to practise compassion.

I always love to ask my guests how we keep our actions in alignment with our values.  Haidar reminded us that this always had to start off with knowing what our values are.  I have asked many people this question and sometimes I get a funny look or hear the following:

‘No idea Jojo’.

I don’t have time to think about that, I’m too busy’.

If your wellness is important to you, which it should be, then please take the time.  Then write them out.  Put those values somewhere and listen to your gut feeling.  If your life is not in alignment with your values, then change your life.  It’s that simple.

I asked Haidar, who works with a lot of busy doctors and success-driven entrepreneurs, his top tips for burnout.  His answer was simple.

Stop.  Speak to someone.  Get help.  Look at inspirational content with people who understand.  Stop again and work hard to only do what you love.  But take the time to figure out if you are simply being a people pleaser or not.  Are you REALLY doing what you love?  What can you let go of to get a healthier balance for you?

I think this is an important reminder for all of us.  If you were to write a list of all your jobs and activities for the week, how many of them are really what you want to do.  Perhaps your key value is kindness and you spent the week being kind to everyone you meet, without scheduling in time to be kind to yourself.

I have been doing a lot of research about how we can remove ego from anger so that we don’t burst.  I wanted to discuss this with Haidar, who commented:

We can never remove the ego as it is part of us.  It’s important to embrace it and have fun with it.  To not take it too seriously.  Some of our anger is emotion.  Some of it is being.  Some of it is our true self.  Anger is natural and it’s not always ego.  But some elements of it can be.  In the aftermath of an anger burst, it’s important to go back to it with a fresh head and analyse what was ego led and what wasn’t.  You need to be in a relaxed state to do this.  Do something that chills you out first.’

I agree that when we are calm, we have a clearer head.  One of my values is calm so as a result I make this a priority.  I look at the week ahead and work in times to have calm.  I then schedule in activities that make me feel calm.  Some examples involve:

Going for a wild swim.

Running or walking in nature (not busy streets).

Going for a coffee with friends or family.

Having an essential oil bath.

Reading a good book.

Going for a massage or facial.

Doing a mediation app or watching a feel-good film with the kids.  One of my calmest moments over the weekend, was snuggling up in our pj’s to ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’.  It was bliss.

Haidar and I share something that brings us both true joy.

True joy is seeing other people in true joy.  People who are in a state of compassion, empathy, kindness, togetherness, harmony.  It’s infectious. 

Are you a mood hoover or a beam of light to those around you? It’s never too late to do the work.  Make finding your wellness a prioirty.  Get bothered.  Because you matter.



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