Ask Yourself This Simple Question to Leave Negativity Behind
It can help you cope with emotional ups and downs that are a big part of every entrepreneur's life.
I have been an entrepreneur for more than a decade now. I have started my private practice in three different states and four different cities. Keeping up with your mental and emotional faculties as an entrepreneur is not only vital, but also very challenging. According to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health, 72% of entrepreneurs are impacted by mental-health issues compared to about 48% of non-entrepreneurs. Another study has shown that 49% of us entrepreneurs deal with mental-health issues directly in some form while only 32% of non-entrepreneurs do.
Bottom line? Entrepreneurship is not an easy job. You are your own boss, but that comes with a lot of responsibility, which includes keeping up with your mental and emotional capacities. I personally have experienced ups and downs of my emotional state while coping with failures. Currently, I am venturing into digital courses and stepping away from one-on-one counseling and coaching. After getting started, I found creating a successful digital course is not as easy as I thought it would be. At times, I just want to quit and go back to my comfort zone of one-one-one coaching because change and the unknown are difficult to conquer, especially when you face failure. These emotional ups and downs can ruin your business.
Learn to ride the emotional wave instead of being knocked out by it
Jack, one of my successful entrepreneur coaching clients, would have quit his business five times by now if he didn’t learn to cope with an unstable emotional state of mind. He is a perfectionist, and his "all or none" thinking gets the best of him. Whenever there is even a hint of failure or a big challenge, he wants to quit his business and move to Maine with his camper with no cell phone reception, let alone the speed-of-light wired internet connection he needs for his business. However, once he learned to just observe his feelings and emotions separated from who he is, it has become much easier for him to ride the wave instead of getting knocked out by it. It took him a little practice and some reminders from me, but he is able to cope on his own now with the help of journaling. And that is huge for him. A simple question has not only kept him in business, but also allowed him to thrive emotionally.
Here's the question to consider asking yourself: “Am I the feeling or that which is aware of the feeling?”
This one question dissipates the basis of negative feelings. You are that which is aware of the feeling. If you are sad, you are not the sadness. You are aware of your sadness. You are not depressed, but that which is aware of your depressed mood. Often, I hear in my practice, “I am depressed" or "I am anxious.” With this statement, you identify yourself with what you are feeling. I help my clients separate their feelings from who they are. For many, that is their first time separating themselves from the feeling itself.
Create distance from your feelings
When you separate your feelings from your identity, you have taken the first step in the right direction. Whenever you are overwhelmed with negative feelings, repeat this statement to yourself: “I am either the feeling or that which is aware of the feeling.” This separation allows you to create distance from your feeling, which is what you really want. Having that space gives you an opportunity to empathetically and unconditionally observe your feelings, and that observation helps you process and live through the feelings instead of being caught up in them. The awareness of your feelings can heal your inner child's wounds. It does not let you suppress your emotions; in a sense, it's allowing you to be your own therapist.
Identify the feelings instead of labeling yourself
If you are depressed, for example, try saying, "I am experiencing sadness or depression" or "I feel depressed." Try not to say, "I am depressed." That identifies you as depression. That speaks to your psyche very differently. Most often, we label ourselves with emotional and psychological symptoms. But we don't identify as physical symptoms. Have you ever identified yourself as a headache, stomachache or cancer? Of course not. You would just say, “I have a headache. I have a stomachache. I have cancer.” Then why label yourself with the emotional and psychological symptoms you experience?
My client Jack learned to identify feelings instead of labeling himself. He started with just observing his feelings by writing them down. Journaling became his go-to technique for separating what he was feeling from who he was. Jack can be concerned about membership cancellations, but he still is an entrepreneur, husband and dad. Now, he's able to keep his current state of mind separated from the rest of his identity. This separation allows him to experience the emotional ups and downs in his business without identifying with them to an unhealthy degree. The awareness lets him be present so he can effectively cope with his rising emotions instead of suppressing them.
By reminding yourself that you're the person experiencing the feeling, and not the feeling itself, you too can use this awareness to advance in business and life.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor