Entrepreneurship means “DANGER” to your brain. Your brain wants to keep you safe and alive. And then you go and threaten that with an inconsistent income, constantly trying new things, and regularly stepping outside of your comfort zone.
So your brain panics.
You feel scattered and frantic because you think that you need to be doing all the things, all the time. You can’t rest or (heaven forbid) take a proper vacation because you’ll surely lose everything. You may have plenty of amazing project ideas, but procrastination and perfectionism keep you from putting them out into the world because of fear of criticism or failure. These are all examples of your lovely brain attempting to keep you safe.
The skill of managing your emotions is hugely important for entrepreneurs. Without knowing how to feel and “allow” unpleasant emotions, you end up with these two options:
Option #1: Pushing Through.
You make a plan and push yourself to stick to it even when you’re feeling anxious, defeated, or insecure.
The problem with pushing through is that you don’t show up for your business with that relaxed confidence that makes people want to buy from you. You have a bit of a desperate, grasping vibe.
The other problem is that constantly pushing through is exhausting and always leads to burnout. No one knows burnout better than an entrepreneur, amiright?
Option #2: Avoidance.
You avoid all unpleasant emotions by playing it safe. You procrastinate on big projects that will likely move the needle in your business. You water yourself down to try to be uncontroversial and likable (which just makes you seem boring and forgettable).
The problem with avoidance is that your business growth will be slow, which leads to other uncomfortable emotions.
Option #3: Feel the emotions.
The one where you learn how to truly feel unpleasant emotions. This way, you make clear-headed decisions about how to best grow your business instead of making decisions based on your desire not to feel uncomfortable.
“Emotions have no place in business, unless you do business with them.” – Friedrich Durrenmatt
Emotions are vibrations that you can feel in your body. If you try to explain what fear feels like, you talk about your body, right? You might say that you feel your heart beating harder or faster. Maybe your face feels hot or your chest feels heavy. We feel our emotions physically. It can be unpleasant, but it isn’t actually dangerous.
To allow yourself to feel your emotions, you can simply name the emotion that you’re feeling: embarrassed, disappointed, sad, hurt, etc.
Then, tune into your body and describe what the emotion feels like:
- Where in your body do you feel this emotion?
- Does it feel hot or cold?
- Do you imagine this emotion to have a particular color?
- Does it feel fast or slow?
- Does it feel hard or soft?
You might not have an answer to all of those questions. The key is to pay attention to how the emotion feels in your body and describe it in detail.
Next, you can take a few breaths and give yourself a chance to pay attention to those feelings in your body. If your fingers feel tingly, close your eyes and focus on that feeling. If your chest feels tight, breathe into that area and feel the tightness.
You can tell yourself supportive thoughts like:
- I am feeling this emotion in my body and I am safe.
- This emotion is not dangerous.
- This is what [insert emotion] feels like.
- I am practicing feeling my emotions.
After a few minutes of allowing yourself to feel your emotion, you can move on with your day. Sometimes, when you stop resisting an unpleasant emotion and feel it, it will shrink or go away entirely. Other times, the emotion will stay with you and that’s ok. This can be a daily practice.
Once you learn how to feel your emotions instead of pushing them away, you will fear them less. If you fear feeling anxiety, you’re not going to do important tasks in your business that you think could cause anxiety. If you’re ok with feeling anxious, you will take action – not from a place of pushing through, but from a feeling of peace and confidence that you can handle whatever emotions come up when you try something new.
Entrepreneurship is emotional. When you’re the boss, and especially when you’re a solopreneur, avoiding unpleasant emotions means also avoiding tasks that will grow your business.
Learning how to feel your emotions may seem too “soft” or “woo-woo” but it is actually a skill that will help you grow your business faster without constantly risking burnout.
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