Do you find yourself putting off those jobs you do not want to do? Does fear get in the way of doing those important jobs that would forward your career, grow your business or improve your relationships? When fear and self-doubt rear their heads during these challenging times, what are you doing to manage the situation? Stick your head in the sand? Procrastinate? Take action in fear, doubt and worry?
These are challenges I face daily. And you do too, I imagine. When I speak to clients, they have similar issues. And I find myself wondering, “Is there a better way?” When we are dominated by fear, doubt and worry, we live the resulting frustration and paralysis. And while that fear is in the driver’s seat, in control of your life, that life is not going to change in a positive and significant way.
If we can learn to get that negativity out of the driver’s seat and replace it with positive, life-affirming thoughts, we will take confident and empowering action and change the landscape of our lives towards something more pleasing, pleasurable, fulfilling and meaningful.
As I contemplate the question, “Is there a better way?”, here are some thoughts that come to mind:
Practice thinking feel-good thoughts.
If you are in the habit of thinking negative thoughts, you’ll think them more and more. Have you noticed that when you wake up in the middle of the night and you start thinking negative thoughts, that those negative thoughts get stronger and faster? Before you know it, a thought about an up-coming bill that needs paying turns into declaring bankruptcy and losing your house. Most of those fear-based thoughts are just that- fear. Your mind will work with that and create more of it, the more you practice.
Instead, practice thinking positive thoughts. When you do, you’ll notice that you will think more positively, more of the time. To start, it may well be a challenge, as you are re-wiring your mind and body to think differently. You will feel the immediate benefit and it will take time for your biology to catch up for it to become a consistent habit. So, practice, perseverance and patience are important. These old patterns of thought are well-engrained. Be purposeful and conscious about setting aside time through the day to practice positive thoughts.
The Power of Gratitude
Take time to think about how grateful and appreciative you are about anything in your life that you genuinely feel gratitude for: a tree in your garden or at the park; the sunset out your kitchen window or on the drive home; a dog gleefully running out on its walk with its owner; a kind gesture or comment; feeling good during or after a workout; pleasurable-feeling clothes; nice-tasting food. Allow yourself to feel the feeling. So often I have found myself thinking that this is a pleasurable experience rather than feeling the sensations of pleasure as a result of the experience. It’s a powerful distinction that has you directly connect to something rather than be removed and distant from it.
Don’t try to make yourself feel grateful for something you are not grateful for. Make it genuine, authentic and legitimate. Perhaps you’ll notice that feel-good feeling in your chest or you’ll break out in a smile. Or maybe you’ll laugh or get a buzz of excitement through your body. This is your body resonating with the positive thoughts you are consciously choosing to have. It is a purposeful process, that changes your biology to create feel-good chemicals. Over time this has a profoundly positive effect on your well-being. In the moment, you feel great, or content, or elated, or happy or satisfied.
You can do this at the beginning of the day, in anticipation for the day ahead. Or, you can do it at the end of the day and think back at what the day brought, for which you are grateful. Either way you’re practising feel-good thoughts. Another method is to take a moment before or after a meal, meeting, journey or some such part of your day and take time to be appreciative of it. This is similar to Abraham Hicks’ Segment Intending (really good YouTube video here) that can so powerfully influence how you move through the world. Whichever method you use, you are taking a moment to pause and decide to be grateful and appreciative for the moments ahead.
Do not practice negative thoughts.
Sometimes, negative or anxious thoughts are so powerful, you cannot think yourself out of them. Like waking up in the middle of the night, if those thoughts get too negative and too fast, you are better off doing something completely different to distract yourself. Perhaps you need to make some prospecting calls and you are working yourself up into tizz about it or; you have a report to finish and your mind is too preoccupied with worry or; you’re in the middle of a disagreement with your partner or kids and you are too angry to think straight.
Take a break. Go for a walk. Sleep on it. Go for a workout. Create some distance and distract yourself from your emotional reaction which is not serving you well in this situation. Give your biology a chance to get back to balance and then try to re-assert a positive mindset about it (as we discussed above).
Even if it feels like you’ve got to make that call, have that meeting or complete that conversation, it’s probably going to do more harm than good if you do so when you are anxious, worried, stressed or angry. Do something to take your mind off it and come back to it later with a fresh perspective. Have you noticed how different you feel about a situation once you have some distance from it? I’m not saying don’t do that thing. I’m suggesting you do all you can to be in the best head space when you do it.
Turning the doubt and fear around
And some days you may find that you have climbed out of bed on the wrong side and nothing you do is going to shift that negative or abrasive mood. Let it go. Don’t make the calls, avoid having those important conversations and don’t make any important decisions about your business or life if you can avoid it. You may feel you are being lazy or should have your sh*t together. The reality is, some days we are not at our best and tomorrow, or the day after, will be a better day. As the saying goes, to build a reputation takes years, to ruin it takes seconds. Give yourself a break and have some compassion.
At any time you notice you are having negative thoughts, gently changing your tack can move your thoughts towards something more positive. For example, I wanted to make a prospecting call to a long-standing client. On that day, I was making up that he was busy, that he wouldn’t want to talk to me, that I would not be able to speak with confidence and in a professional manner.
So, I turned it around. I went for a walk and had a conversation with myself. “He’s always been friendly before. If he’s busy he won’t pick up so don’t worry about that. We enjoy each other’s company. I’m offering a great service, my service has been of benefit before. I know he is keen to take me on for further business, I am always professional and courteous when I feel confident and so on.” By the time I got back from the walk, I was feeling far more positive to make the call. I felt nervous as I dialled which faded away as we began to chat and talk business.
If you can’t do it, get someone else to do it
If you don’t want to do something, delegate it to someone else. Or, if someone is doing a task they love, they will do a much better job than you, if you dislike doing it. Rather than make prospecting calls, which I dislike doing and frankly find distressing (you might have guessed from my example above!!!!), I hire a professional to do it for me. I also hire a copy writer and a graphic designer. They’re better at it than I am and will do it in a fraction of the time. It stops me being a block to my business’ growth.
If you have a gap in your knowledge about something, fill the gap by reading a book, asking for some advice or going on a course about it. Skill up. Your growth is the key to your business’ success as well as your life success. And you might discover talents you did not know were there. I can learn how to build a website. But frankly that is not my forte and I’m better off giving that task to someone else. Alternatively, learning to cook has been a wonderful new avenue into creative cuisine and maintaining a healthier and more balanced diet.
I sucked at Tango, so I’ve put that to bed, and as a result, I have a greater appreciation for Tango dancers and dancing in general. Being organised is a skill I have taken out of the closet. Since I abandoned my career in science, I thought I could leave organisation and being systematic could go out the window. It turns out it’s a skill that can be applied to all kinds of life situations (surprise, surprise!!). So now I find myself being a little anal about accounts and e-mail boxes, bookshelves and kitchen cupboards.
And having those difficult conversations, once so hard to do, are easier, now that I have learned better how to communicate, listen and pay attention to my feelings and empathy for others’.
Over to You
So, in summary, I think there is a better way to manage ourselves when we are faced with those challenging situations that we want to put off, sweep under the carpet and feel too overwhelmed to face. These three broad perspectives seem almost too easy and simple to be the answers to such challenges. For a great many years, I believed there had to be something more complicated than this to overcome these life-limiting challenges.
And yet, stopping those negative thoughts and making a habit of having positive thoughts can be really hard to do. Continually educating and improving yourself can also be tough. As can passing the task to someone more capable and skilful at that task. Yet, these are the only ways I have found to take on those jobs I don’t want to do and overcome the fear I have about them. What do you do? How do you get out of your own way on your journey to success?
Pass it on
Know people who stick their heads in the sand about important things? Or people who get in their own way repeatedly? Why not pass this blog on to them and give them a chance to feel more empowered?