In this article, Kate Griffiths explores how easy it is to get trapped into a negative mindset. This is what prevents business owners from moving forward with life. She also suggests four ways to deal more effectively with the vicissitudes of life.
I was part of an online conversation recently, which was asking us to share what we would suggest to someone starting out in Business about how to get the money coming in. There were loads of comments but the one that stuck with me was the comment that said it is worth investing at least 50% of your time and money on self-development.
That may seem counterintuitive to you. Why would you do that when you are trying to get your marketing, your logo, your website and other practical stuff sorted. Why focus on stuff with no tangible benefit you might be asking?
Put it another way, why is personal development so critical to business success? It is all about being in flow, not worrying. Success in business and in life is over 90% about being and 10% doing. In other words, it is all about your mindset.
Your state of mind is shaped by what you are thinking and feeling and as Abraham Hicks said beliefs are merely thoughts that you keep on thinking. Researchers have shown that we have around 60,000 thoughts a day. And yet we tend to really only focus on a few of those. What we focus on is what expands into our reality.
If you accept that and take with it the fact that our brains are hard-wired to look for threat you begin to see why we need to find ways to live with negative emotions rather than get rid of them. Why is this survival pattern so strong? You know that humans’ natural instinct when in danger is to fight or flight. This is socio-biological from the time that our ancestors lived in jungles and would get an adrenaline rush when they heard a wild animal stalking them. The adrenaline fired up their muscles and enabled them to run off as fast as they could to avoid being eaten.
From a psychologist’s perspective our brains are wired for survival not for happiness. In the soul retreat that I ran last week, we explored the question could there ever be a time when we could override this instinct and choose the path that gave us pleasure rather than changing in reaction to pain?
If we follow this line of enquiry then we end up in the realms of philosophy and enjoyable as that is that is not where I want to take you today. I hope the first section of this article has shown you why negative self talk and ultimately depression is so prevalent and what I want to do is give you some practical tips to help you live in greater harmony with your inner bully/ inner bitch.
- If you are not reaching your goals, let’s say your target income for the month, then take a moment to consider how realistic it is. The self-critic often appears when you are not being realistic about what you can achieve that is when you have set your expectations too high. If you cannot live within your means, can you be thriftier rather than striving to make more money?
- Of course it is important to persist with your dreams so often small businesses fail because the owner gave up too quickly. That said it is also important to recognise when a change of approach is needed and when you need to learn and adapt so that you can grow. For example you may have a great idea but if you are not getting the traction for it through having a website, consider creating/ getting someone to create an app for you. With small children, I for one know this is the way of the future.
- I have found that with some of my clients that they have developed fixed ideas about what will make them happy and I recognise that I fell into similar traps myself years ago. In my early 30s I became very frustrated about the fact that my husband and I were both in corporate jobs and yet we could not afford a four bedroom house in the city that we lived in. I became fixated on the fact that I would be happy if we had a bigger house. In the end we both realised that if we wanted a larger pad then we would have to move out of the city to achieve it. Sometimes though you need more than a change of approach, you need a change of goal. If you can be flexible and adaptable to the flow of life then you will be much better equipped and more resilient when it comes to dealing with life’s changes and disappointments. For example do you really need to be a property owner? Renting works well.
- Maturity is all about being able to own up when you did something less than perfectly, try to understand what caused it, resolve to correct it and then move on. Sometimes though you may find yourself flagellating yourself metaphorically and when we are that harsh we usually throw on a whole load more abuse remembering every single occasion when we got it wrong and put ourselves down really effectively. This is beating yourself up. It is excessive and the relentlessness of the inner critic tears you down; it’s stressful and thus impacts on your mood, health, and longevity. So how can you prevent this cycle which probably started in childhood and is stopping you from taking responsibility and making amends so that you do not behave in the same way going forward?
I want to share with you a practice that you can use to help you deal with your inner critic. Pick a small issue you have with yourself – such as being a few minutes late to meetings, or eating too much – and try the following two approaches. First, be your own coach and counsel yourself in an encouraging way. Notice what this feels like, and what the results are for you. Second, talk to yourself about in a critical way – maybe like a parent or teacher talked to you. What’s this approach feel like, and what are its results?
Let the differences between approaches sink in. How do you feel inside when you’re “listening” to each one? Let a real conviction form as to which approach is better for you – and a real resolve to truly use the one that’s best for you.
I bet you found the encouraging approach more effective. If so use it going forward. Identify what you did wrong, work out how to do it better going forward.
Lastly take a big breath and remind yourself of three of your strengths. Let the sense of them, and of your natural goodness, sink in. And then take another big breath and move on.
In the end it is all about finding ways to be kind to yourself. As you can see it is not about denying responsibility for stuff that you did not do as skilfully as you might. However once you have acknowledged that and worked out how you can handle it better next time, it is all about moving on by letting go. The key is to find some kindness and compassion for you. This comes when you really believe that you are intrinsically a good person.
All this has come through my own mindfulness practices and through working with clients with anxiety issues and/ or depression. I would love to hear your thoughts on this article below.
Kate Griffiths works with individuals and business owners to create more ease and flow in their lives. Clients include conscious business owners and leaders who recognise that the old paradigm way of doing things does not work and want support in determining what the new ways of doing business look like. She is passionate about creating conversations that lead to change and has developed her own process to do that called connection through conversation. She also teaches 8 week mindfulness courses at Harmony in Hitchin; the next one starts on Monday 12 May. If you prefer, get in touch with Kate to set up an initial consultation to explore working one to one with her.