It’s easy to take a knock in confidence when you’re starting up a new business, or even if you’ve been going for a while and are facing a new challenge. Even a small knock can slow us down or stop us in our tracks… if we let it. The key is not to let it but that isn’t always easy. Understanding what is going on in your mind can help you take control.
This is the opinion of Elaine Neale, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist and founder of Falkirk-based Happy Hypnotherapy. Elaine was inspired to contact the Women’s Business Centre after attending one of our webinars and says: “My work is founded in the science of how our immensely clever brains work and how to make them work for you, rather than against you. I have sessions with clients explaining this, and how to beat negativity, procrastination and imposter syndrome through changing their thinking at the outset so that they can achieve their goals – whatever they may be.”
This chimed with feedback we hear from some other women at different stages of their business journey, so we invited Elaine to delve a bit deeper for us. Here’s what she told us:
Have you ever felt like you’re not good enough or destined for failure?
Hands up if you have – and I’m putting both my hands up too! The fact is that many of us will have felt this way at some point, and you know what? It’s OK to have felt that. It’s normal.
Starting and running your own business always includes a step into the unknown. Whether that’s being out there on our own for the first time, learning new skills or facing new challenges, it’s how we think about things that will determine how we handle them and therefore the ultimate outcome. If we focus on the negatives: the what could/has ‘gone wrong’, the fear and worry or the constant pursuit of mythical perfection, we’ll only see ‘the problem’. Then before we know it our confidence could nose-dive and we’re risking being pointed down a negative spiral where motivation and productivity drop, opportunities are missed, perhaps we may not make such good decisions – if we make any at all. Our business doesn’t move forward in the way we want it to, worry builds, we might stop sleeping properly and our confidence level may drops still further… You get the picture.
So what’s happening?
How did all our passion, planning and excitement lead us here? The answer lies in the way our brains work. When we’re focused on the problem we’re tapped into the ‘primitive’ part of our brain, that same part that says “don’t step out now, there’s a car coming!”. It’s where our stress response lives and it will always be on the lookout for the worst case scenario. That’s its job and it’s really good at it! A good thing too but…. It really, REALLY likes attention and being in control. The more we focus on the problem, the more attention we give it and the more it will take control. A bit like the five-year-old who doesn’t like being denied a biscuit because it’s nearly dinner time!
Who needs to be in control in this kind of situation? You do. The calm, logical grown-up. You know what the right thing to do is. You, who makes decisions based on reality, not emotion and knows they’re the right ones. You’ve used what is referred to as your ‘intellectual’ brain to do that. This is the part that we want to have in control, it’s our positive, rational problem-solver that flips the problem it on its head. Instead of asking “what’s the problem?” it’ll ask “what do you want to achieve?”. Now, that’s a different viewpoint altogether. It’s a question the primitive mind can’t answer so it quietens down! Your intellectual mind can now regain control – you’re YOU again! The person who had the motivation, the confidence and passion to start your own business in the first place. Because you’re focused on your goal, that intellectual mind of yours is going to be open to opportunities and creative ways to help you reach it.
So, next time you find yourself heading for that metaphorical tantrum in the biscuit aisle of the supermarket, recognise it for what it is and stop it in its tracks instead.
How do I get my positive mojo back?
The intellectual mind is a lot less knee-jerk than the primitive mind and can need a little push start to begin with but when it gets going it can have incredible momentum. Your intellectual mind is innately positive. Simply changing your focus to what you want to achieve; thinking, talking and acting positively will literally reopen neural pathways to this part of the brain and put it firmly in control. When it is, you recognise your worth, can see the right next step and can keep taking them to reach your goals.
Top Tips to Make Your Brain Work for You
- Make your dreams bigger than your fears. Focus on what you want to achieve for yourself and your business, remember why you started down this road in the first place.
- Take small steps. Your ultimate goal is unlikely to be within reach of the next step you take so make the next step small and achievable and set yourself up for success. Done that one? Great! What’s the next one?
- Remember your successes. Don’t just move on to the next thing to do. Recognise the good things you’ve done or achieved. You’re allowed to feel good about them and it’ll keep you motivated for more.
- Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go to plan. Your primitive mind will be telling you it’s been a complete disaster, chances are it hasn’t. We’re allowed to make mistakes, we learn from them. What positive can you take from it? It might make you cringe, but it might make you laugh as well.
- Give yourself a break! We’re more positive, more productive and make better decisions when we’re rested. Doing something for yourself is just as important and can actually help you find a solution that may have been eluding you. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure it’s something you enjoy.