I’ve recently been listening to radio head space, a great podcast that’s dedicated to all things mindfulness. Unsure what mindfulness is? It’s really about being more present in the moment and maybe even being more aware of our thoughts. Mindfulness is kinda of like a form of exercise but instead for your muscles, it’s for your mind. There is a lot of research that proves mindfulness can help with a multitude of things such as:
Understanding our emotions better
Coping with difficult thoughts
Gaining better concentrating
and even help improve relationships
The Benefits Of Mindfulness
You might be wondering why I want to talk about mindfulness with you and that’s a valid question. Well I’ve had first hand experience with setting up a one-woman business. And believe that certain mindfulness excises not alone help with the previous things I mention. But, can also be used to help you within business, specially with limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging thoughts. Today I want to share with you a couple of mindfulness steps I take that have helped me immensely and I think they will help you too. No meditation involved even though I would highly recommend it too.
Unhelpful thoughts and why we have them
When setting up a business on your own it can feel scary and overwhelming right? You might already know this but our minds are hardwired to keep us away from anything it may perceive as dangerous or unsafe. We’re constantly scanning for threats and safety 24/7 great for being in the wild. Not so good when you’re trying to start your small business. Whether that’s hand made products or one to one services. The whole concept can seem unsafe, the fact it’s all unknown. A bit risky and the horrible fear of failure in trying looming over you. All this can get the better of us, it defiantly did for me.
When we give our thoughts too much power
I’m sure a couple of you listening will be able to relate to the following. Early on in small business journey I quickly constructed in my mind thick heavy stone tall walls of thoughts that held me back. They boxed me into a belief that I couldn’t do certain things in business or had to do it this or that way. Even starting a podcast seemed out of my reach of capabilities. The outcome of these thoughts made me over stand my welcome at the start line in business, ready to take the step step but completely unsure how to climb these walls of doubt to reach the other side.
For me it wasn’t until I started learning about mindfulness that I truly became aware of these limiting beliefs and thoughts. I realised after being more mindful that our thoughts really aren’t our reality. They are just thoughts, but if we let them we can make them into reality this is by believing in them, believing that they have weight and validity. If we don’t do provide them this, they really don’t have any control over us. I remember clearly having a thought of not being able to start a podcast. I was talking to a client at the time and she was telling me about how she was going to start a podcast and I thinking to myself “Oh gosh I will never be able to do that!” This thought had not evidence that I couldn’t other than the fact, I had never done a podcast before.
How I use mindfulness to Reframe thoughts of self doubt
This leads me to a mindfulness exercise that kinda like reframing, just a reminder to al I’m no qualified therapist or mindfulness partitioner. I’m a brand strategist and designer, that want to share the tips and mindfulness process I use to get out of my way and leave these annoying thoughts behind. Therefore I might not do reframing quote on quote the right way. So without far a do whenever I catch myself telling myself I couldn’t do that I quickly jot it down. So that I can refer back to it at when I have time. I add this the thought into a table within the first column, I then process to sort of challenge and test its validity by asking it a series of questions.
The usual ones I like to ask is this thought is born out of fear of the unknown? Was it an impulsive trigger response to keep me safe? Does it have any evidence to support it? Usually after these questions the thought has been busted open and usually and has not depth for me to believe it for one minute. After this questioning process I like to take minute to reframe it. I do this by writing multiple statements or sentence that debunks it all together, by saying things like
Just because I’ve never set up a podcast doesn’t mean I can’t learn how to
Just because I wont be perfect at podcasting at the start isn’t a good enough reason to not start one and improve
I can start podcast if I want to, this would including doing some research into how I start one.
I’ll keep writing as many reframing sentence that debunk the ludicrous of that thought. You’ll be quite surprise as to the amount of reframing statement you can come up. And how much more logical they sound compare to the first irrational first thought of doubt. This all helps reinforce the fact that our thoughts shouldn’t always to be believed.
Thoughts of future self-sabotage/worse case scenarios
However, for me I didn’t just have passing thoughts about not believing I couldn’t do something. I had thoughts about worst case scenarios. As humans we are often likely to remember negative experience over positive ones. I started developing a long unhealthy cycle of what if’s and believe me I have a big what if imagination. What if’s can be rather crippling when trying to make decisions and staying focused in your small business. The what if question is like a intangible pole in the middle of your path, the pole holds a hundreds of arrows pointing you in into different directions. But all arrows are leading you down a dark possible negative outcome waiting for you.
Let’s face it we are never what if’ing about anything that has a positively great outcome that’s too nice and easy! Once we start predicting the worse case scenarios of an outcome, it can be a tricky hamster wheel to get off. So how to we not stop letting our what if’s have so much ammo?
The first mindfulness solutions to stop negative prediction effect you
My first method was by shifting my focus. I would focus on how I would cope with this or that outcome rather than the outcome it self. I would sometime come up with action steps or a plan on how to handle a specific outcome I feared. This helped reduce the anxiety but help me still move forwards with my plans. You can also pay more attention to the what if predication cycle. This can include jotting down that first negative outcome you thought about and so and so forth and see where it leads you. It might look something like this
What if i don’t launch in time?
What if the launch flops?
What if i make no sales?
What if I can’t pay my bills?
What If my business can’t finically sustain me?
Usually you’ll find a core What If that is the rooted deeper worry that all the other little what if really stem from. By paying more attention to the cycle you can identify this core doubt or worry. And resolve it by again devising a plan of actionable steps incase it does or implement something today. Either way hopefully this will put a cleanly stop to your what if cycle starting int he first place by facing the core issues.
I want you to know I understand what you’re going through, I really do hope that todays episode inspires you to take action. Be more mindful about the thoughts you have about yourself in business. We are all carry to certain degree limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging tendencies don’t let them stop you from achieving what you want within your small business. If you missed last weeks episode we spoke about in-depth on how to manage your customer and clients expectations, never let down a customer or client again.