I’m pleased to welcome back entrepreneurship coach John Van Dinther of 2Hats Consulting (who hosted my earlier teleseminar) to talk about the direction, productivity and marketing issues entrepreneurs commonly face, and some exercises he uses to help his clients deal with those concerns.
In this interview, you’ll learn:
* How John’s unique “online vision board” approach can help you solidify your direction in your business and other areas of your life
* How using pictures of the process of your work, not just the end product, in your online vision board can help with your motivation
* How keeping in mind “the big picture” of why you’re doing what you’re doing can empower you through tasks you normally see as mundane or boring
* How to “anchor” your vision for your business deep in your body, so you can access your inspiration at any time
* How treating yourself with compassion can benefit your productivity
* Why getting comfortable with being alone in silence is so important for the solo entrepreneur
* How to make peace with those negative inner voices telling you that you won’t succeed
* Why it’s key to focus on the benefit you’re providing clients, not the services you provide, in your marketing approach
I wanted to share with you another excerpt from my Career Satisfaction From Within Audio Course. This exercise helps us transcend our tendency to replay painful memories and imagine negative future scenarios while we’re working, and thus helps us find more productivity and peace in what we do. This exercise is an example of how the course isn’t just about making career transitions — it’s also for people who just want more fulfillment and success in what they do right now.
You can download the MP3 file by right-clicking on the link below and selecting “Save Target As.”
In other news, I wanted to point out two other special offers related to my audio program. First, I’m offering affiliates who sell the program a 30% commission from sales to buyers who visit from their websites. Second, if you’re a blogger and you’d be interested in reviewing the course, please contact me — I’m planning to provide free copies to bloggers who review the program.
I’ve posted a new guest article that’s exclusively available at The Positivity Blog, called “How To Stop Replaying Old Arguments.” The article is available at http://www.positivityblog.com/index.php/2008/09/01/how-to-stop-replaying-old-arguments. I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to hearing your feedback.
A while back, I worked with a client who was interested in leaving her corporate marketing job and opening a health food store. Although she knew a lot about the products she wanted to sell and had a passion for her business, she had no experience dealing with the logistical issues—like finances and inventory—that come with running a store. Thus, she was interested in finding a business partner knowledgeable in those areas. However, she was having trouble making the leap from thinking about finding a partner to actually seeking one out.
She told me the reason she was blocked was that she found it hard to trust people. When she’d start taking steps to find someone to work with, her mind began conjuring up nightmare scenarios where her business partner bankrupted the store, stole her money and ran off to parts unknown. After watching those mental horror movies, she’d resolve to learn how to run the store herself. However, this thought prompted fears that she’d fail to handle the business properly and ruin it.
It seemed that in my client’s mind, whether or not she found a partner, she wouldn’t handle the situation well—either her partner would rob her blind, or she’d run the store into the ground. Thus it struck me that, at a deeper level, my client’s issue might be that she simply didn’t trust herself to manage her business, or more generally to take care of herself. To explore this possibility, I had her visualize the scenario where her partner took advantage of her, and I asked her “where are you in this picture? What are you doing?”
She thought about it for a moment, and then gave a despairing sigh—clearly she didn’t like the image that came up. “I’m helpless,” she said. “I’m just sitting in the corner of the room, and I can’t do anything to stop my partner.”
“It sounds like you don’t feel strong enough to protect yourself from being exploited.”
“Yeah, I don’t,” she finally replied, after another deep sigh.
To see if it would help calm her fears, I asked her to keep the image in her mind, but this time to visualize herself standing up tall. Before I got around to having her imagine protecting herself, she chuckled and observed how much just making that small adjustment in her posture changed her experience. She suddenly felt more empowered in her business life, and an ability to handle whatever setbacks might arise that she hadn’t often felt before.
Since we had this conversation, whenever she feels plagued by imaginary failure scenarios, my client has made a habit of turning her attention toward what she’s doing in the “mental movie” she’s creating. Almost invariably, an image of herself cowering in the corner comes up. When she imagines herself standing up, her fears immediately seem less intense and she feels a sense of composure.
As it turned out, my client’s problem wasn’t that she didn’t trust others—it was that she didn’t trust herself. When she formed an image of herself as strong and resourceful, her worry that she’d be taken advantage of and that she couldn’t protect herself faded away.
Today, I regularly recommend this kind of exercise to people with difficulty trusting others to help or support them. Often, when their anxieties around trusting others come up, they form mental pictures of all the terrible things that might happen if they relied on someone and were let down.
Once they’ve described the image that usually comes up, I have them turn their attention to where they are and what they’re doing in the picture. Like my client, they tend to see themselves spacing out, ignoring the problem, or putting up no resistance against their exploiters. When they instead imagine themselves taking action to prevent others from harming them, their fears of being betrayed tend to subside. Developing trust in themselves, in other words, helps them rekindle their trust in others and the universe.
Psychologist Stephanie Dowrick aptly describes the connection between our self-trust and our ability to trust others in Choosing Happiness: Life And Soul Essentials. We tend to assume, she writes, that our sense that we’re unsafe in dealing with someone stems from the fact that “the other person is so unreliable and you can’t trust them.”
Often, however, “the person you can’t trust is yourself. Your feelings are not ‘about’ the other person, even if you do feel them only in this relationship. They are ‘about’ you. When you feel highly possessive or desperate in relation to another person, it is almost always because you have not yet developed your own inner feelings of safety.”
When we develop trust and confidence in our own abilities to overcome the obstacles we face in life, trust in others follows naturally. Of course, others may break their promises and try to take advantage of us. But if we have a sense of certainty that we can set appropriate boundaries and handle the situation, our relating with others no longer seems so dangerous, and takes on a new ease and even joyfulness.
Many of us spend a lot of time fretting over aspects of our lives that might turn out badly in the future. Maybe it’s the fear that we’ll mess up a project at work, that we won’t be able to pay the bills next month, that we’ll have some type of medical crisis, or something else—I could go on for hundreds of pages with possible examples. In all these situations, we worry that something may happen in the world that will create pain or difficulty in our lives.
I used to be plagued by anxiety about negative events that might happen in my life. These days, however, I continually surprise myself with how little I worry about possible setbacks I may face. Much of my change, I believe, happened when I recognized that an event in the world can only make me suffer if I allow myself to react negatively to it. In other words, I acknowledged that my own emotional reactions—not the things that happen around me—are ultimately responsible for any suffering in my life.
I had this realization when I made a few observations about how my mind works when I worry about something. I saw that, when I worry, I imagine something happening out in the world—my intimate relationship ending, my car crashing, or something else. With this mental image of a possible negative future comes discomfort in my body—tension in my neck and shoulders, unpleasant warmth in my face, and so on.
More importantly, I became aware of what I don’t normally focus on when I’m worrying. I saw that, when I’m watching a mental movie of a bad future event, my focus is entirely on what’s going on outside me in the picture—my house burning down, my computer being destroyed by viruses, and so on. I put no attention, however, on my experience of the event—how I’m reacting and feeling, and what I’m doing, in the picture.
I was curious about how putting some attention on myself might affect my experience of my anxiety scenarios. Thus, I decided to experiment with visualizing a negative event as I usually would, but this time focusing on how I was feeling and responding in the imaginary situation. I tried this exercise several times with different possible events I tended to get anxious about.
As one example, a while back, I was having nearly constant trouble with my car for various reasons, and I was often concerned that the car would break down in the middle of the highway or some other inconvenient place. To run my new experiment with this anxiety, I brought up my standard mental picture of my car stopping in the middle of a packed freeway, with smoke billowing out of the hood. This time, however, I brought my awareness to myself sitting in the driver’s seat, and to what I was thinking and feeling in the imaginary situation.
When I put some attention on my mental image of myself, my perspective on the event noticeably shifted. It no longer seemed so obvious that my car breaking down on the highway was a disastrous, terrifying event, and the discomfort that used to seize my body when I thought about this scenario began to fade away. I started to recognize how much control I had over the way I reacted to and interpreted the event. I could choose to “flip out” over it and make it a stressful and uncomfortable experience. Or, I could decide to stay composed and focus on what, if anything, I could do about the problem. This sense of choice was empowering and calming—while I held my power to choose my response in my awareness, anxiety simply didn’t enter the picture.
I also realized that, when I imagined negative future scenarios without directing any attention to my own role in them, I lost sight of my ability to decide how to respond to events in my life. When I wasn’t conscious of that power, it seemed like the world and what happened in it could dictate how I felt and what I experienced, without any input from me. This perspective had me feel helpless and frightened, and see the world as an oppressive and threatening place. With this outlook on life, it was no wonder I was anxiety-prone.
I kept working through my various anxieties using this technique—simply visualizing each event I feared would happen, but placing my attention on myself in the mental picture. Each time, the physical discomfort I used to experience when I imagined a future problem lessened, and I began to generally feel more peaceful and focused.
Some time later, when I started learning about neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and hypnotherapy, I noticed my method was similar to what practitioners of hypnotherapy and NLP call dissociation. A therapist dissociates a client when the therapist asks them to visualize a past or future event in their life, but to watch the event from a third-person perspective, observing it as if watching him- or herself in a movie.
When a client visualizes a troublesome possible event while dissociated, users of NLP and hypnotherapy say, the client feels calmer and more ready to take on the potential problem. Psychologist Stephen Wolinsky, for example, describes the empowering effects of experiencing an anxiety scenario while dissociated in Trances People Live: Healing Approaches In Quantum Psychology:
We need to have the new and different experience of discovering that we are more than or larger than the source of distress with which we are so typically identified. If I learn to move outside this misidentification so that I can view it, observe it, describe it, . . . in short, if I am the knower of the problem, then I am bigger than it. Simply put, it is not me. . . . The problem no longer takes up all my inner space; it is surrounded by a context of perception and awareness . . . .
The approach I use—focusing your attention on yourself when you’re visualizing a worrisome scenario—produces this type of effect. When you run an anxiety-provoking mental movie, but stay conscious of your own part in it, you become aware of your ability to choose how to react to events in your life. With this awareness, the problems that arise in your life no longer seem so threatening and beyond your control. When you know that whatever situation confronts you, you can decide to face it with peace and composure, your worries start to dissolve.