Don’t you love when you’re “in the zone” with your business?
If only every day were that!
But there are other days where you’re stuck in a funk. You struggle to make decisions, you get sidetracked easily, or you feel generally pessimistic about the future of your business.
Those mentally tough days can bring your business to a screeching halt!
Because you don’t want to spend hours and hours on your business, you must make every minute count.
So how do you take back control when you’re feeling distracted, stuck, and overwhelmed in your business?
Keep reading for my go-to strategy to get out of a funk and get back on track.
It’s What’s Inside That Counts
Before I share how you can snap out of your funk, it’s important to understand what’s really causing your bad day.
We often see our outside circumstances as the cause for our distress. Things like …
Our email inbox is overflowing, so we work late into the night.
The dishwasher stopped working, so we snap at our partner.
A client needs more of our time than we’re willing to give, so we give in and feel resentful.
While your outside experiences play into your mood, it’s what’s going on inside of you—your thoughts, physical sensations, and emotions—that truly directs your feelings and next actions.Click to TweetWhile your outside experiences play into your mood, it’s what’s going on inside of you that truly directs your feelings and next actions.
Let’s take the email inbox example I just mentioned.
When you see all those unread emails, you might have the thought, “I should be better at managing my inbox.”
That thought creates a chain reaction in your body. Your stomach tightens, your jaw clenches, and you feel completely overwhelmed.
You tell yourself you must get your inbox under control, and you work later than you want to make it happen.
So … when we get honest with ourselves, it’s not the messy inbox that’s making us work late. It’s everything that happens inside our heads when we look at the messy inbox.
I’m going to repeat that because it’s important:
What happens in your head is what affects your decisions, actions, and behaviors.
Let me explain …
3 Internal Experiences That Are Keeping You Stuck
If your inner world (your mind) is the cause of your mood, the way to stop the cycle of a bad day is to start paying attention to what’s going on inside of your head.
When you start to notice your internal patterns, you can take back control of your reactions and make better choices for yourself and your business.Click to TweetWhen you start to notice your internal patterns, you can make better choices for yourself and your business.
Here are the three things you should start to notice.
Notice your crappy, limited thinking
Start to pay attention to your thoughts, especially the crappy ones.
This sounds simple enough but “catching” your thoughts can be challenging! We often assume that what we’re thinking is true, so we don’t question our thoughts or give them much attention.
But that’s where the trouble comes in. A thought like, “I’ll never get this business off the ground” is similar to computer malware. You might not notice it’s there but it’s doing harm.
So how can you start to notice your crappy thinking? Here is a list of specific words to be on the lookout for:
- Have to
- Don’t want to
- Want to but can’t
These words are signs that you’re bumping up against reality with crappy thinking.
I should be further along in my business by now.
My husband should be good at this.
I shouldn’t hate writing so much.
My clients shouldn’t need convincing about my rates.
I have to make more time for social media.
My subscribers have to read all my emails.
I don’t want to send a newsletter this week.
People don’t want to hire a coach like me.
I want to raise my prices but I can’t.
I want to hire a virtual assistant but I don’t have enough money.
For now, don’t worry about changing your thoughts or judging yourself for having them (we all do!). Simply notice your thoughts with curiosity and gentle awareness. No judgement.Click to TweetWords like “should,” “have to,” and “can’t” are signs of crappy thinking.
Notice your internal physical discomfort
If it’s challenging for you to notice your thinking, you might notice your discomfort instead.
Here’s what I mean.
Years ago, every time I would head to a networking event, I felt full of dread. Driving to the event, I would have a tension headache and my muscles would be tight. The discomfort wasn’t something I could ignore.
Sometimes you don’t notice your thoughts as much as you do how you feel physically. Maybe you feel some tension in your neck. Or maybe as you’re going into a meeting you realize, “Oh, man, I feel a sense of dread. It’s like a pit in my stomach.”
Whatever it might be, just start to notice your internal physical discomfort. As you go throughout your day notice how you feel in your physical body.
Pay attention to when your body feels uncomfortable—don’t worry, this won’t kill you—and make note of what you’re doing when it happens.
Notice your symptoms
Sometimes you might readily notice your thoughts. Other times, you might notice your discomfort.
Here’s how this might show up for you with work:
You might notice that you suddenly feel like taking a walk or cleaning your house instead of sitting down at your computer.
Or, you might get sidetracked looking at testimonial plugins for your website instead of actually reaching out to collect testimonials.
Or, you might be sitting there feeling guilty about not having written your emails yet.
These are all symptoms that you’re not making the most of the time you have, because you’re spending all this time being busy but not in fact productive. If you’re spending your time feeling guilty, then you’re being productive. If you’re spending all this time stressing out, then you’re not making the best use of your time.
Again, notice your symptoms with gentle awareness and curiosity. You’ll learn a lot about yourself by simply taking notice of these symptoms.
The thoughts-discomfort-symptoms cycle
Your thoughts, discomfort, and symptoms are all interrelated.
Below are some examples of how this might play out as you go about your business.
Example 1. Noticing a thought first
In the first example is, you might first notice a thought such as, “I’m not good at this.”
Notice the thought and pause.
Next, notice where you feel that physically in your body. Start to notice the discomfort associated with that thought. It might take you a moment to pinpoint it, but that’s okay. It’s so worth pausing.
In this example, you might notice that you feel this thought as a tension on your forehead. You’re creasing and tightening your forehead as you have the thought, “I’m not good at this.”
Then, notice when you have that physical discomfort, what do you do next? Notice the symptoms that come up.
Do you put off doing work? Do you go for a walk instead? Do you distract yourself by checking into Facebook? Do you throw your arms up and say, “I’m so overwhelmed.”
In short: Notice a thought, then feel for the discomfort. When you feel the discomfort, notice what you do (symptom) because you’re feeling uncomfortable.
It can also go the other way: You notice a thought, then you notice the symptom that goes with it. From there, you feel the physical discomfort.
Example 2. Noticing physical discomfort first
You could be somebody who tends to notice the physical discomfort more readily.
Going back to my earlier example of going to a networking event, I might first notice the feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach, the tightening of my shoulders, and the shallowness of my breaths.
Next, I notice my thoughts: “I’m horrible at networking.” “I really don’t want to do this.” “I shouldn’t have to strike up conversations with strangers.”
Finally, I notice that as a result of these thoughts, I hide in the corner and not actually talk to anyone. That’s avoidance, which is a symptom.
In this case, you start by noticing the physical discomfort. Press pause and feel into the discomfort. Now, this is uncomfortable but it’s okay, it’s not going to kill you. In fact, you’re going to get your best insights from paying attention to that discomfort. It’s totally worth feeling into it for just a few moments.
And then you can pay attention to the thoughts going through your mind. Finally, take note of the symptoms that crop up as a result of the physical discomfort … or vice versa.
Example 3. Noticing your symptoms first
The third way to look at it is to notice your symptoms first.
Maybe you’re procrastinating or feeling stressed or overwhelmed—or anything else that has come up for you as a symptom that you’re not making the most of your time.
First notice yourself experiencing the symptom, then look carefully at where you feel uncomfortable in your physical body.
For example, some of my clients have told me, “I noticed when I sit down to work, I decide I want to go for a walk, or clean my house, or do laundry all of a sudden.”
When you notice a symptom, pause and feel. What do you feel in your body? Where is there discomfort?
Because that thing you’re doing (the symptom), you’re doing it to avoid feeling that physical discomfort. So find that discomfort that you’re trying to run from.
And then notice the thought behind that. It could be “I’m not good at this,” “This is hard,” “I shouldn’t have to,” or whatever else it might be.
Or you could notice the symptom first, then the thought, then the discomfort in your physical body.
You want to look at whatever is most readily available to you in any given moment, whether that’s crappy, limited thinking, internal physical discomfort, or any of those signs that you’re not making the most of your time. Then you want to go find the other two.
As you do this, you begin to connect the dots for yourself. You become more aware of the things you’re commonly thinking, the symptoms that commonly show up in your life, and the physical sensations in your body that you’re trying to avoid.
The good news is, it doesn’t matter where you start. Use gentle awareness and curiosity, and pay attention to all three as you go throughout your day.Click to TweetUse gentle awareness and curiosity to pay attention to your thoughts, physical discomforts, and symptoms as you go throughout your day. Don’t judge yourself!
Taking Back Control
The awesome thing is, as you get better at noticing your own patterns, you can start to actively choose a different response to your thoughts, discomfort, and symptoms.
For example, a business owner who sat down to write a blog post had the persistent thought, “I’m not a good writer.”
So she would usually go do something else instead of writing her post. This was obviously quite frustrating to her and detrimental to her business growth!
A coach worked with her and told her to start writing. He asked that every time she had the thought, “I’m not a good writer,” to say it outloud then get back at writing.
She would write a few sentences, then say, “I’m not good at writing!”
So the coach would say, “Okay, get back to writing.”
This continued for about 20 minutes until she had completed a few pages of writing.
When she paid attention to the thought and chose to sit with the discomfort, she was finally able to get over her writing block.
This Changes Everything
Once you learn to catch yourself (via your thoughts, emotions, or symptoms), you’ll be unstoppable.
You’ll no longer be controlled by external circumstances. Your business success will no longer be left to the whims of your emotions. And you’ll be in the driver’s seat.
No matter how you “catch yourself,” you’ll be so glad you did. Because everything changes after that.
Because without awareness, those crappy thoughts, discomfort, and symptoms will keep running in the background. They’re going to keep running the show. And they’re going to steal energy from you doing your best work.
But by bringing those three things to light and looking them square in the eye, you take away their power.
You can decide that you do not want them to rule your world right now.Click to TweetAs you become aware of your own patterns, you can choose a different response to your thoughts, discomforts, and symptoms.You can decide that they’re NOT in charge.
You can say, “I don’t want to believe that crappy thought is true.” Instead, you can say to yourself, “I’m going to do my best. I’m going to put everything I can into this and I’m gonna do a great job and it’s gonna go how it’s gonna go.”
You can feel the discomfort instead of trying to run away from it. You can say to yourself, “It’s uncomfortable and I’d rather not feel it, but this isn’t going to kill me.”
And when you catch yourself doing a symptom, you can say to yourself, “I’m procrastinating because this is super uncomfortable. But this isn’t getting me anywhere near my goals. So this thing I’ve been avoiding? I’m going to do it anyway.”
And this all comes from simply taking note of your thoughts, leaning into the discomfort in your body, and acknowledging the symptom you’re doing.
When you take the time to pay attention to all this, you’ll discover that they have so many insights and gifts to share.
Once you notice them, you have the power to not give in to them. You have the power to say, “You no longer run my show. I’m in charge!”My Personal Recommendation for YouStarting and Growing an Online, Service-based Business