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Feeling like a phoney and a fake

Posted by Valerie Ling on September 10, 2020 at 10:10 AM

For a while I was feeling like a second rate Psychologist and Clinical Supervisor. That's hard for me to write down anywhere - let alone in a public sphere like this.

Moving deep into the burnout space meant I was innovating beyond what my peers and the research were able to provide. I felt completely alone and was searching for something that would help me fix that feeling of being a fake.

It was like I was hurtling into deep space without a tether.

One day I sat down and wrote all the things that I believed negatively about my clinical "worth". It did not matter what anybody else said. It did not matter that we were pioneering into some incredibly meaningful space. Nothing would shift those negative thoughts.

That is when I discovered that it was alright to have these fears, lean into them and put a plan into place. That was the birth of the Growth Plan. Every year since then, by paying attention to those self doubts, I invert it into a wild, adventure in my head for the next book, person, course, experience, experiment to embrace that would totally address and stand those doubts down. When those niggling thoughts return (and they do), it's great to know exactly where your fault lines and vulnerabilities are, and know you have a plan. It keeps you patient with yourself.

What does this growth plan look like?

1. List all of the doubts you have about your abilities

2. Rank them from the least bothersome, to the most

3. Identify ways to address and stand down the top 3

4. Choose a variety of ways - and place them in your year to tick off and knock off.

Find out how to supercharge this process for yourself in my upcoming 3 day event. Details in comments

#burnout #resilience #endurance


Posted by Valerie Ling on September 4, 2020 at 5:35 AM

I wonder what assumptions you make about:


The family life of your neighbours

The success of your friends

The social life of your FaceBook connections


Do you find yourself thinking you're living a dull, unfulfilled and chaotic life as compared to them?


Do you come down hard on yourself for not doing more, being more to turn that around?


They are common mental short cuts we take and they bias us to be discontent with what we have, hard on ourselves and seeking to grind away at doing more, trying to give more, be more, push more.


Eventually we find ourselves completely disconnected from people are just like us, being authentic in our lives, and sharing the good and the bad times. We opt out of intimate relationships, supportive conversations and fun connections. There isn't any more time.


Our own mindset issues can trick us into moving deeper into that comparative space and soon it isn't supported by truth or fact!


When we intentionally connect with people we trust, people who genuinely know us and support us, they provide us with reflection of truth. They see us for who we are and affirm our intentions. They provide advice, practical help, companionship and support.


Reconnect is an important "R" and often on of the first things to go when we are in burnout and drown out mode.


#selfcarescience #bounceback #selfcareart

Power Down

Posted by Valerie Ling on September 1, 2020 at 2:10 AM

How do you wind up your day - Sun Set time...Power Down...


So I am sitting here for the last hour just powering down. I had one child who needed some medical attention, as soon as I arrived at work (thanks to his dad who managed to pick up the phone and manage that). That took a bit of deep breathing, and clear-headed thinking to not run straight back into the car and race back to home.


Then a series of meetings in the practice, and much needed brain storming. Followed by some slightly scattered machine gun style work AKA little planning and just getting bits and pieces done.


Then .... comes the time for me to wrap up and go home.


But my mind is RACING. My body is still pumped from the walking, talking, gesturing and ..... yeah ....


Then I know I am straight back into home mode - juggling, attending to the cooking, connecting and (hopefully!) exercising.


So I tell myself - "power down". Decelerate. Slow down to a nice resting pace. Breath slower. Read something nice. Sip that water. Prepare to step into the next transition by closing this space.


Everything that has needed to be done today has been done. Anything that is still needed to be done will be dealt with in time.




Celebrate the wins for today. It's been a good day.






In awe.


TIme to go home.


#selfcarescience #selfcareart #selfcare

15 Minute Rest Challenge

Posted by Valerie Ling on August 31, 2020 at 11:45 PM

The challenge of a 15 minute pit stop


I gave out the challenge to a group of early career psychologists this week to do a 15 minute all stop each day. It was received with a little apprehension!


Why is that? What makes it so difficult for to just stop. Perhaps these buzzing thoughts come to mind


"That's being lazy"

"That's a waste of time"

"That's going to set me back"

"I wouldn't know what to do"

"What if I can't do it...."


Yet, if you take up this experiment you may find that you


�� Breathe slower and deeper

�� Look up and farther - giving your eyes a rest

�� Hear sounds you never noticed before

�� Induce feelings of pleasure, enjoyment and wonder

�� Provide your brain with a well deserved break


What other benefits are you aware of?

Will you take up the challenge this week and have a 15 minute all stop?


#mindfulness #rest #selfcare

Be sticky!

Posted by Valerie Ling on July 29, 2020 at 8:25 AM

I dream in Post-its ... and I refuse to use the fakes


I love the story of how Post-its were invented. A seemingly useless discovery in a lab and a problem with pieces of paper falling out of a hymnal led to one of the most elegant and useful solutions.


Many fakes have come since. But I can tell you, there is nothing more frustrating than having your ideas and sequences fall apart because the fakes don’t stick and they fall off!!


When I create I use Post-its. They’re moveable, quick to jot on and you can colour code. Simple. Elegant. Agile.


Now they come in much BIGGER sizes (got me one of those) and BOLDER colours. So useful, I bet your home has a stack of them.


Here’s the thing. The size of the Post-it is not the issue. The colour of it is not an issue either. But without the sticky factor - it’s just a piece of paper here today gone tomorrow.


Don’t be that piece of paper. If you want to endure, and persevere, and serve others by your ideas and action, you need to remain sticky.


You do this by ensuring your tanks are filled , your bodies are rested and your mind is clear.


Now go stick it!



#grit #resilience #slipstream #flow

You won't fly if you don't try, and you won't try if you are fried

Posted by Valerie Ling on July 22, 2020 at 8:05 AM

*** You won't fly if you don't try, and you won't try if you are fried ***


It's a little silly sounding....hear me out ...


Two years ago, I stepped out onto a stage for one of the first larger audiences where I would speak about resilience in the face of burnout. I thought I had done a terrible job of it. The main talk wasn't too bad, however, the breakout session I took was a disaster. That's what I thought. People were skeptical, I thought. The exercises I had didn't really work. It all sounded a bit dull and prescriptive. I thought it would be the end of that. The session - well - burnt out!


Two people spoke to me after that session. Both are memorable. One asked if I would remember the children. Here was an adult who had lived through a legacy of tired, distraught, burnt out and difficult family circumstances because the load on their parents was so great. They painted the picture of many other of their peers who had been through similar situations, because their parents had sacrificed everything for others, and their children got very little. As a result, their own development and emotional needs were unmet, leading to mental health difficulties and fractured self and relationships. They begged me to remember the children, and to keep sharing their stories.


The second person, I thought was the most skeptical of them all in the room. They proceeded to tell me that was the best presentation they had heard on the topic and invited me to dialogue with them on a leadership program they were developing. It sounded like a one time gig - and I said "sure!". Several years later, several repetitions of this program, several conferences later, this person sat on a panel of advisers with me this week to encourage further bold steps. Strangely, they are also the one that refuses to let go of the very question I thought they were skeptical about when we do our sessions together. "Just how many hours of work is too many Valerie?". Groan. Here comes the fight in the group!


Making a difference, caring about something, someone, being a voice for change - that all takes trying. Even in the midst of fear and adversity. You won't be able to keep trying if your energy, meaning and people tanks are dry and you are fried. Equally, you won't get the chance to keep connecting, talking, sharing, reaching out, eliciting support if you are fried.


So ..... like the first person who spoke to me. Don't forget who you are caring and advocating for. If it's too hard right now to stop and do it for yourself. Do it for them. Don't get fried.


#contentology #thrive #wellbeing #replicate #serve

My Social Media

Posted by Valerie Ling on June 19, 2020 at 1:35 AM

My love-hate relationship with social media has come to a neat analysis and I am sharing it with you here so it makes sense when you are following Valerie Ling on all the various spaces. Shaped by (strangely enough) COVID-19 experiences engaging in the public space. If you struggle in the Social Media space, this reflective blog might be helpful in working out how to present yourself...


Private: I think it is important to share an authentic version of ourselves in public spaces. For me it is to dispel habits of putting our best, produced, polished selves forward in a kind of public relation filter. I also think it is important, for me at least, to keep a large portion of that private for mental health and a sacred space for our significant friends and family.


Professional: For those of us who are registered legally by a professional body, it is important for us to hold the shape of our professional obligations, and more importantly, if you are a health professional like I am, to lead public health information conscientiously and in good faith. As we have been trained to know, we sit in a position not only of influence, but of power, and we need to use that position wisely and faithfully. This space can be expressed in many ways: writing professional articles, speaking engagements, etc. where we are invited to contribute as content experts. I believe in this space, we want to commit to upholding the professional "working out" of what we say, accepting peer review, robust research and wide reading of subject matter in our area of interest.


Public: What would you say to a crowd of 1000 and how would you say it? What and how would you say it to your 80 year old neighbour whom you respect? This could be on any topic, any modality, for any reason. Sharing tips, knowledge, daily living information and help.


In the middle of this then, for me, comes the Social Media platforms. Of which I have real estate in FB, Insta, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Podcasts, Tik Tok and the WWW.


Thinking this way helps me to figure out what and how to share. Shapes what debate, dialogue and discussion looks like. And helps me to keep my sanity in check.




Posted by Valerie Ling on May 30, 2020 at 4:10 AM

I hope to be a "handsome woman". Was how a dinner table conversation started with my family. "What does that mean mum". Truthfully, I don't really know. Remember that old comedy "The Golden Girls"? For some reason I really wanted to be a Dorothy. Tall, stately, poised, the voice of reason and with a slight bite to her. As I approach the age of 50, I look nothing like a Dorothy, and I can't really pull off her sarcasm.


Lately I have been reflecting on the lost conversation of maturity. I think we get lost in thinking that success and achievement will hallmark our lives. Our life's work puts the stamp on who we are. Our estates and assets will ground the reality of what we became and left behind.


Maturity, however, is something quite different. The idea of maturity is foundational in psychological thinking. It is about the growth and development of a human being in their identity, relationships, ethics and moralities, emotionality and their lasting contribution to society.


Erik Erikson's theory of Psychosocial development unfolds human maturity into 8 stages:


1. Trust vs. Mistrust: age 0 - 1½. Here we learn about basic relationships of care and trust and provides us hope, when this does not happen, we are left to feel exposed and we acquire fear

2. Autonomy vs. Shame: age 1½ - 3. We learn we can be independent an have mastery over some things, inculcating a will. If we are put down and criticised constantly we acquire shame.

3. Initiative vs. Guilt: age 3 - 5. At this stage we learn about moving forward and interacting with others. When nurtured we discover our purpose and roles with others, if squashed we acquire quilt in being a nuisance or a burden.

4. Industry vs. Inferiority: age 5 - 12. Here we discover ourselves as the learner, if nurtured we gain competence, if taken away we acquire a sense of failure.

5. Identity vs. Role Confusion: age 12 - 18. This is when we discover who we are, our values, beliefs, aspirations. If nurtured we gain conviction, if thwarted - confusion.

6. Intimacy vs. Isolation: age 18 - 40. This is the time we seek connection and learn to be vulnerable with others. When flourished we gain intimacy, when frustrated we feel lonely.

7. Generativity vs. Stagnation: age 40 - 65. At this stage we seek to make our mark, make a difference and contribute to the world at large. When there is opportunity we find purpose, when we lack this, we feel lost.

8. Ego Integrity vs. Despair: age 65+. At this point we look back and make meaning of the life we have had in totality. What we gain is wisdom, if when we look back we do not see meaning of our life, we feel despair


Maturity is hard work. Productivity, success, busyness, hustle, these do not really mark the Eriksonian stages of development or maturity. That sort of hard work is noisy. The work of maturity is equally in the quiet, contemplative, vulnerable, aching spaces. Seeking truth, seeking meaning, seeking connection, seeking service, pursuing wisdom, growing, groaning, celebrating and being.


#maturity #growth #purpose

Not too bright please,..

Posted by Valerie Ling on May 23, 2020 at 8:45 AM

Not too bright please...


We were due to move to an Asian country, my two toddlers had only known Australia as home. In my eagerness to quell my anxiety about it, I probably projected some things onto what they were feeling. So I painted the future bright. I spoke of playgrounds, interesting food, a country that never slept, beaches, and who know what else. Filled with great anticipation, we left behind home in Australia, all things familiar and set a course. When my son, who was then about 4 arrived in our home - he said, "Mum the walls are all white". What he meant was that in his mind he had forecasted a home that was in constant movement and colour, and all he got was four walls painted white. It wasn't much like what I had made it out to be.


I looked up the top COVID-19 searches in Australia for today. It showed that we are eager to "get back" to the way things were. When can we go fishing again was one of the searches.


The reality is, there is a future to rebuild, and it will be built on the fragility and realisation that a virus almost wiped out life and an economy as we knew it. You don't go back to being the same.


So as you head out, and as you send our young people and children back, stay in the zone of reality, not to bright, not too dreary, but with hope that together we rebuild. When we rebuild, there will be rubble, there will be change, there will also be a sense that we are being renewed.


Many people find that after a disaster they more keenly seek:


1. A deeper understanding of their spirituality

2. Reprioritisation of the things that are important

3. To clarify and strengthen important relationships

4. Deeper understanding of their courage and strengths

5. Purpose and engagement in their world


These are grounding conversations we can have, keeping it hopeful, meaningful, and not too bright.


#rebuild #covidcare #thrive

Gaining Momentum WIthout Burning Out

Posted by Valerie Ling on May 18, 2020 at 2:20 AM

Momentum. Mass in motion. Building speed. A product of mass and velocity, building, growing, moving forward.


I was asked this week in a small group training session what my opinion was on how many hours of work was the limit before burnout sets in. I used to confidently answer this question until I realised that many variables play into this.


For example, my work day today looked like this:


8:30am. Recording and editing my Resilience in Service one day workshop. Then individual clinical and coaching clients, and an online stress and resiliency group until 4pm. In between I answered emails, and attended to some administrative work. Between 4 and 5pm I made some phone calls, submitted a proposal for a manuscript with a publisher and planned my work flow for the next 2 weeks. I came back to work on some things with my husband - doing some recording between 8pm to 9pm. Now - it is close to 10pm and I am working on a marriage webinar.


That is more than a 12 hour work day!


The research suggests that working more than a 55 hour week is likely to lead to burnout, physical health impairment and overall impacts the quality of our relationships. This 55 hours a week is roughly equivalent to a 6 day week. Based on my work day today, it would clearly exceed that.


However, today was a day of momentum as it was a crescendo of purpose driven activities fuelled by deep focus. The work tasks I invested in had the following qualities:


  • Deeply aligned to my purpose
  • Served the people group I am committed to
  • Varied in demands and types of thinking required
  • Fitted into my need for autonomy, independence and flexibility (hence why I work for myself)

It is also preceded by days of rest, periods of lower output, and will be followed by a day off tomorrow. Thursdays (which is today) is also a day I set aside last year to invest in innovation of new ways of delivering and dealing with the issue of burnout. This time last year I would be found locked away in my office, not earning an income, but committed to think-tank and brainstorm a variety of innovations to hit the burnout scene hard. This means that in 2020, that work of pacing, investing, focusing has led to momentum this year when it was needed.


There is wisdom to look at the number of hours we work in totality over the week. There is also wisdom to know that there are times when we have built some momentum and we need to let it go so we can work with our flow. There is also wisdom to know that there will need to be recovery time, pacing until we catch the next momentum wave. The key is factoring in the discipline to stop and pace regularly so that we can run hard with momentum and conviction.


Now onto that webinar!