When people hear the word psychotherapy, a few thoughts come to mind. They imagine a dark, spacious room, a comfy couch, and a mysterious person in a turtleneck wearing bifocals writing on a yellow notepad. Once successful, therapy allows you to notice what isn’t working. You can then take the suggestions you are given and make the necessary changes to become a healthier person.
Contrary to common belief, during my psychotherapy experience, the room I was in was well lit with art hanging on the wall, but the contrasts didn’t stop there. Because therapy was mandatory in graduate school if I wanted to become a psychotherapist, I attended sessions regularly.
It took me two years in graduate school to learn the keys to changing my life and help others change their lives for better.
These “keys” are no secret. They involve your beliefs, coping tactics, and social circle. If you keep reading you’ll learn how you can easily use these keys to your advantage.
Even though I had finished graduate school a couple of years ago, it was after graduation that I fell back in love with entrepreneurship and startups. I was especially intrigued by marketing and advertising roles, since I was already a marketing copywriter consultant.
One thing I've seen consistent with entrepreneurs is delusions or bipolar-like tendencies. I guess it comes with the territory and may work to our advantage when we measure goals.
Let’s take a step back.
What about those bad days where you can hardly think or work? Those dark lonely times when we cry in quiet desperation?
In those moments it's tough to focus and it’s easy to lose confidence. I've been there myself, but what I find works is a solid foundation of the following:
1. Unshakable belief system
It was Buddha who said: "As you think you shall become." Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't then you're right.” So, it’s safe to say there’s a cause and effect.
As social creatures, we adapt our knowledge based on what’s heard and experienced. Sometimes this information is inaccurate, unrealistic, doubtful, or a ploy to rattle you.
This may sound like silly self-help mumbo jumbo, but not having the best beliefs limit what you allow yourself to do. This is especially true when people are neglecting your ability to progress, or you’re second guessing yourself.
New positive beliefs would look like this:
- I'm confident
- I love myself
- I can handle this, and if not, I will get help
- One bad moment, or a series of bad moments does not dictate my life
- I deserve to win
- I will not focus on negative people and allow them to waste my time
- I will win
- If I try my hardest and it doesn't work, I will move on
Ever use affirmations or mantras?
This is exactly it. If you’re worried about “faking it before you make it” then you’re right. Look at it this way; it’s always uncomfortable trying something new.
Remember when you were learning how to drive or ride a bike? You modeled the techniques of good drivers and riders to become comfortable.
One last thing on beliefs, the crappy ones, they are called cognitive distortions. They come after beliefs and mess up our interpretation of the world. Here's a helpful list: http://psychcentral.com/lib/15-common-cognitive-distortions/
2. Swift coping strategy
In 2013, I externed at a behavioral center for individuals facing opiate addiction, depression, suicide ideation, and other forms of mental illness. During my extern, I conducted hour long psycho-education seminars with clients using an evidence based framework called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Aside from beliefs, I taught them to focus on their coping strategy for trauma. Coping takes the form of:
- Getting treatment/taking any medicine you may need
- Never self-medicating with drugs or alcohol for your situation because those are short fixes to a larger problem
- Having hobbies: reading, hiking, listening to music, a hot bath, or writing. I also recommend meditation and use the free resource: http://www.calm.com/
As an entrepreneur, your experience may be a loss of a co-founder, issues with an employee or lack of venture capital funding. These depressing moments need self-care, otherwise they can grow out of hand and influence your work.
3. Impenetrable social support
During my experience at the behavioral center, I was always reminded that changing beliefs and coping are only two-thirds of the battle.
If an addict goes back home to the same addiction riddled home, possibility of improvement is slim to none. On the other hand, if he or she surrounds themselves with positive friends and family, then their safety net reinforces a better outcome. The same goes for entrepreneurs.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is call up a pal and vent your heart out. After the ranting ends, it's important to look at the bigger picture of future results.
The questions you need to ask yourself:
- What’s next for me this month?
- The next 3 months?
- The next 6 months?
Then you’ll want to break down these monthly goals into small objectives which you can cross off the list. I suggest using your professional peers as accountability for reaching goals. Their role acts as a sponsor and in some cases a mentor.
Simple enough, right?
Put these into play, and with time I guarantee you’ll come out as a winner.