Here’s a transcription of my recent interview for the Sage Advice podcast.
[00:00:15] Well hi everyone and welcome to our Sage Advice podcast. I’m Ed Kless and with me today is Joanne Sumner. Joanne is an entrepreneur, trainer and wellbeing expert. She runs a successful coaching, yoga and meditation practice, online and in person, specialising in teaching small business owners, teachers, health professionals and social workers how to relieve chronic stress and tension so that they can live happier, healthier lives. She also dedicates time each week to supporting business women to build intelligent, creative and flexible businesses, drawing on her seven-year tenure as West London Regional Director of the Athena Network. Welcome to the Sage Advice Podcast, Joanne Sumner!
[00:00:55] Thank you, Ed. It’s a pleasure to be here.
[00:00:59] Well, first off, Joanne, tell us a little bit more about yourself and your business.
[00:01:06] My passion really is small business owners, in particular, female business owners and helping them build happy, healthy businesses and then helping people in our public sector work, which is so important, be happy and healthy themselves while they’re helping everybody else to do the same. So really I suppose I look at myself and my business as a resource for people who give all the time. And my job is to give to them and help them understand how to sustain themselves in these tough and sometimes thankless roles.
[00:01:52] And why do you do it? [00:01:52][0.8]
[00:01:55] I think the inspiration to me really is having been in that position myself. My original work was in medical research ethics, and it was absolutely the most fascinating role in some ways, but under incredible pressure and I would say seen often as somebody whose job it was to say “no“, and under that pressure, over time, I burned out and have been through the experience of having to recover from burnout, having quite a physical problem to overcome. So, that makes me fascinated in helping other people avoid to burn out in the first place. And to understand how to resource ourselves so that we actually enjoy our businesses and we enjoy these incredible and heart-driven professions.
[00:02:52] And before we started recording you mentioned a topic of resilience and that’s something that you’re working most recently on. How can people help build resilience in their lives?
[00:03:04] I think that I’ve been working with people on a three-part strategy for it.
So, the first part is understanding that we have this vehicle for this lifetime which is this body. And we have what I call our energetic container, our energy field around us. And so that is our personal space.
That’s the most common way people think about it is our personal space in which we hold all of our experiences, our dreams, our aspirations, our insights, but also difficult experiences, too.
So, the first thing that we need to do is be able to seal that container, so that we’re not porous to each other.
And you’ll see online there’s so much talk about what to do if you’re empathetic. How do you deal with being an empath and being able to feed everybody’s feeling and being drained by experiences and the people around you? That’s because the person needs to better feel this energy field around them. So the first thing is teaching people how to do that and to heal to the difficult experiences that they may have had, so that energy is not getting caught up in trauma, for example.
The second part of the strategy is a shift in how you think about managing yourself and managing your mental, physical and emotional energy.
It’s really taking on board. I cannot just make withdrawals on this on myself, I can’t just make withdrawals. It’s like a bank account: I have to put deposits in, too.
But what deposit am I going to actively put in daily and weekly, monthly, so that there is something to give?
And then the third thing is actually beginning to choose to give your energy mindfully so that you don’t just give to anybody who’s asking for it.
I think people are attracted to people who have high energy and want to be around them. The result of that is those high energy people can end up very drained. So, what we want to do is begin to make choices.
“This is worth my energy. This person is resonant with me. They’re worth my time. This project is a good call for me”,
“these things aren’t”.
[00:05:29] So, it’s really those three things working in concert with each other that helps us bounce back.
Really, resilience is the ability to come back from whatever experiences have happened. It’s not about not getting knocked down in the first place: that’s going to happen.
[00:05:50] In the introduction you talked about the relieving of chronic stress and I just that just struck me as I was reading it that there is a difference between chronic stress and what I would call “transactional stress” maybe: the stress that happens when trying to get the kids out to school on time, something like that. Why is it that you focus on the chronic stress rather than that transactional stress?
[00:06:15] I guess that with the transactional stress and what I might call “situational stress”, so long as the person releases that, so they’ve managed to get the kids to school, they take a breath and they go on with their day, there shouldn’t be long-term impact on their body from that. It’s just something that happens and then it goes away if the situation resolves. Chronic stress is when often the person has lost the ability to do that because there’s just one stress that layers on top of another stress, to the extent that they cannot let go. They cannot actually recover normally after a particular event. The one event just layers on top of the other. Then, you really start to see physical dilapidation of the body. As that as the body starts to go under, so the mind follows.
[00:07:09] Joanne, we have an exit question that we ask all of our guests and that is “who is a hero of yours and why are they a hero?”
[00:07:17] I love this question. My hero is Oriah Mountain Dreamer. So, Oriah is a counsellor and author and she wrote this incredibly beautiful poem that I think many listeners will note called “The Invitation” and I admire her because she is somebody who deals with chronic fatigue syndrome. She does this powerful work about purpose and passion and doing the work that you’re called for. And she is totally open, upfront and honest about the difficulty doing her own work with chronic fatigue. She just inspires me so much. And her work is beautiful. It’s poetic and beautiful and I would recommend anybody visit her website to find out more.