How to Turn Self-Doubt Into a Superpower Dig deeper when your inner heckler starts whispering in your ear and you might find fact-backed solutions to the problems that are spiking your emotions.
- Some people are motivated by their insecurity. They respond to these negative thoughts as a challenge.
- Talking about your insecurities allows you to hear them outside your head — allowing you to hear how silly they might be, and also allowing you to get an outsider's perspective.
- If you sometimes doubt yourself, it means you're normal. Wealthy franchisees experience this too, but they don't let negative self-talk stop them from taking the action needed to grow their business.
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This is part 7 / 9 of The Wealthy Franchisee: Section 2: Mastering the Mindset for Franchise Success series.
Some people are motivated by their insecurity. They respond to these negative thoughts as a challenge. When your mental heckler (that's what I call that doubting voice inside you) brings out your best, you can go along with it. But when it paralyzes you, you need to manage it.
For some, the mental heckler is totally debilitating. For most of us, it's just an annoying distraction that makes us work harder. I don't know how to stop it, but I do know how to make sure it doesn't stop you. By managing it, you can free up your brainpower for more important tasks. Here are some effective tips to help you do that, and allow you to run your franchise with a clear head.
Expel the Heckler from Your Head
Like a shark that never stops swimming, the mental heckler is always ready to strike. But a shark is only dangerous in the water. Get it out of the water, and it flops helplessly. The mental heckler does its damage in your head. Get it out of there, and it, too, loses its power. There are a few ways to do this. First, try writing down what it says.
You might also try sharing your mental heckles with someone else: a friend, a colleague, a therapist, or anyone else you trust. Speaking your insecurities aloud allows you to hear them outside your head. Here, too, they can sound silly. Discussing them with someone else also allows you to get an outsider's perspective, which can often be more accurate than your own.
Use the Fact vs. Feeling Test
One woman I coached had a relentless mental heckler. She was a graduate student only three writing assignments away from completing a required course. But that might as well have been 10 years of hard labor because her heckler told her she couldn't write. Her mental block was so strong that she couldn't even sit down at the computer. She finished with an incomplete, and eventually, she received a letter from the dean advising her to leave the program. When I asked her why she couldn't get her work done, she said there were a million reasons. When I told her to list them all, it turned out there were only eight. These reasons included: "My ideas are too crazy," "I'm not smart enough," and "Everyone can do it but me."
To coach her through this block, I used a technique I call "Fact. vs. Feeling," a simple method for determining if your mental heckles have merit. See this sample worksheet.
Whenever you feel inadequate, unqualified, or in trouble, ask yourself if your conclusion is based on a fact or just a feeling. A fact is something that can be objectively verified. Its existence can be demonstrated to the point where there can be no debate. It just is. A feeling, on the other hand, is subjective. It's an interpretation of reality based on a perception that may or may not be accurate. Compared to a fact, it's unreliable. For each of the mental heckles you listed in the left-hand column, determine whether it's based on facts or just your feelings. In other words, are you objectively stating what the situation is, or are you throwing in your own interpretation?
Example 1: Your business is losing money. You owe three years of back taxes. You have no savings, and the bank is foreclosing on your home. So you think, "I have money problems." This conclusion is based on facts. No one would argue with you—there's a set of real financial problems here you need to address. You probably have some feelings to go with these facts, but the facts themselves are undeniable.
Example 2: Business is slow, and you have a lot of debt. You still have to get your kids through college. You think to yourself, "I'll never be able to afford retirement." This conclusion is based on feelings. It might turn out to be true, but without a crystal ball, there's no way to know how your circumstances might change. Many people have overcome their financial problems and prospered. Your conclusion could be correct, but so far there are no facts to suggest it's necessarily true.
If your problems are based on facts, they're real and require your attention. This is actually good news. Real problems can be looked at objectively and have tangible solutions. For example, debt can be overcome by consolidation, negotiation, and increased income.
But chances are most of your problems are based on feelings because the mental heckler is giving you an incorrect self-assessment. In a court of law, you're innocent until proven guilty. In your life, you're doing well until proven otherwise. If the mental heckler argues that something's wrong, demand proof. Get the facts and then make an informed assessment of your situation. You'll probably find you're doing better than you realized.
Join a Group
Whether it's a goal group, a mastermind group, or a support group, there's tremendous value in working through this stuff with others. Many franchise brands actually help enroll their franchisees into performance groups with colleagues from around the system. Not only can you get outside perspectives on your issues, but you can also listen to their unfounded insecurities and begin to recognize the patterns of mental heckler thinking.
I was in such a group in college, and I remember noticing how obvious the solutions were to everyone's problems but my own. Somehow I didn't have the same clarity when it came to my own life. But others assured me I was no different from the rest of the group, which was comforting. I began to perceive how my issues sounded like everyone else's. When everyone was complaining about the same mental heckles, we could laugh at them for what they were—common insecurities. These conversations validated our feelings while stripping them of power. Once it's exposed to other intelligent people, your mental heckler doesn't stand a chance.
Restate Subjective Feelings as Objective Facts
Often our feelings are judgmental interpretations of the facts. Think about weight, for example. Scientifically speaking, our weight is an objective measurement of the gravitational pull of the Earth on our bodies. When you step on a scale, it gives you a number without judgment. It doesn't say "fat" or "skinny." It simply provides data. But when you interpret that data and assign an opinion about it, that's when your emotions kick in. You might feel elated that you've reached the weight you believe is attractive or depressed about some added poundage. Maybe you'll feel guilty about eating that extra bear claw for breakfast.
The mental heckler notices information and then interprets it to generate feelings. These feelings are distractions. They're counterproductive. We need to undo them by distilling our thoughts back to the objective information. Notice the difference between the following pairs of statements:
- "My business is failing" versus "My business is down 15 percent."
- "There's no way I can learn this computer system" versus "I need to learn this software."
- "There's nothing I can do" versus "I don't know what to do."
While the second statement in each pair might generate some emotion, it's still more useful. It accurately describes what's happening or what needs to happen. The first statements are absolutes. They're unhelpful and probably wrong. That's why writing down your thoughts is so useful. It makes it easier to see where you're infusing them with judgment and clouding your perspective. Get back to the facts and nudge your mind back to objective thinking.
If you sometimes doubt yourself or feel abnormal, it means you're normal. It means you're just like the rest of us. And you're just like wealthy franchisees. But wealthy franchisees manage their heads well. They don't let negative self-talk stop them from taking the action needed to grow their business. Feel your feelings, but continue to do the work. Don't let your inner critic stop you.