EP 342: Getting Help Before The Ish Hits The Fan with Shulamit Ber Levtov

Jun 22, 2021 | Mindset & Identity, Podcast

Tara McMullin is a writer, podcaster, and producer who explores what it takes to navigate the 21st-century economy with your humanity intact. Click here to support this work.

In This Episode:

  • How mindset & resilience consultant Shulamit Ber Levtov became interested in the mental health challenges women face in entrepreneurship
  • Why she took a month off from work to prevent experiencing a full burnout last year
  • The methods she uses to identify what she needs and how she’s feeling
  • Why she always starts with getting her emotional support needs met first
  • How she crafts clear boundaries and direct communication about what she really needs

When was the last time you asked for help?

The last time you tried to solve a problem by asking for guidance instead of throwing yourself into Google? The last time you told someone about something that was really weighing on you, not looking for answers but just reaching out for empathy and understanding?

I can’t remember the last time I did. So if you’re having a hard time picturing it, I’m right there with you.

I’ve been my identity around being the one with the answers, the one who has it all together.

Of course, much of that has been a mask for how utterly out of place and clueless I feel most of the time.

The more I can present myself as a smart, successful, and altogether resourceful leader the less likely I am to consciously worry about being rejected.

Today, we’re talking about cultivating emotional resilience and accessing support as a small business owner.

In their book, Burnout, Drs Emily and Amelia Nagoski term the collection of symptoms we face as the ones who have to have it all together as Human Giver Syndrome.

The “human giver” idea comes from philosopher Kate Manne who uses it to make a distinction between the expectations put on women, along with people of color, queer people, immigrants, and other marginalized groups, and the expectations put on white men. Human givers are the people who human beings rely on for moral support, emotional labor, admiration, attention, and care.

The Nagoskis suggest that human givers who give and give without the ability to take time to receive support for their own labor and stress are on a fast track to burning out.

I think this same dynamic can play out with business owners—no matter their gender.

Under-resourced business owners are often relied on for moral support, strategic direction, project management, post mortem analysis, and planning with little ability to receive support on those tasks—or many others.

What’s more, our culture valorizes entrepreneurs who do this work day in and day out, for long hours, with no breaks. Of course, none of that valor translates into a better safety net and more abundant collective resources for business-building.

Now, I’m in way trying to make entrepreneurs the subject of sympathy. The upside to building a business, even as an under-resourced business owner, can be immense.

But that doesn’t lessen the strain of making that upside reality.

It’s hard. And it’s lonely. And it often goes unrecognized.

Even though I am one of the many business owners who has a hard time setting aside my I’ve-got-it-all-together identity to ask for & receive support, I have created a container where people to do this on a daily basis.

One of the people I observe who is not only skilled at asking for support but has the professional chops to explain to me how she’s done it and why it matters is therapist and resilience consultant Shulamit Ber Levtov.

From the jump, I’ve been so impressed with the way Shula elegantly names her needs, directly asks for support, and clearly states her boundaries. Every time she shares, it’s a little mini masterclass for me.

So I wanted to bring her into this extended conversation on teaming up.

Shula and I talk about how she ended up working on resilience for women business owners, why she took a month off last year to prevent her own period of burnout, and how she structures the ways she asks for support.

Shula also walks us through some exercises for naming our own emotions and needs.

Now, let’s find out what works for Shulamit Ber Levtov.

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