On this blog, I frequently talk about specific strategies to grow your home business. Today I want to explore another component of your business success. Your emotions.
Now, if you’re about to click away – hold up!
I realize not everyone likes talking about feelings. But trust me here. Understanding your emotions is key to your business success.
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What Is Fear
If you think about an emotion and take the experience of it, not the thoughts you have, but the affect in your body. What does it feel like?
For the purposes of this article, let’s focus on fear. Since fear is the emotion that most often holds us back in business. Especially the fear of failure or rejection.
Most people don’t want to risk being wrong. This is normal. Our human brains have evolved to protect us from public disgrace.
Back in the day, being rejected or outcast from the tribe meant certain death. You needed other humans to help with gathering food, taking care of the young, building shelter, etc.
Today the fear of rejection is less useful. Being cast out of a group doesn’t mean death.
Plus, it keeps you stuck. It prevents you from showing up in your business and telling others how you can help them.
But when you think about rejection or humiliation as an experience, what arises inside your body?
Perhaps you get red and feel your skin covered in heat. Maybe there’s a sinking feeling in your stomach. The sensations might be small or big in intensity. But all you really feel is some heat and butterflies in the stomach.
The physical experience of a negative emotion isn’t that big a deal.
It only becomes worse when your thoughts engage with the emotion. When you judge yourself or your situation. When you dwell on what’s happening and create new reasons in your mind to feel bad.
It’s your thinking that makes the experience difficult to bear.
The key to achieving more in your business is to learn how to experience fear without creating additional suffering with your mind.
How Your Brain Responds To Fear
Before we talk about processing fear, it’s helpful to explore how your brain typically reacts to negative feelings.
There are three ways most people respond when they experience a bad feeling. They are:
We explore these in more detail so that you can become aware of your default patterns. These are the automatic behaviors that stand between you and success in your home business.
When faced with a new situation, your brain works to stop you from experiencing painful emotions. It’s determined to prevent you from risking rejection, humiliation, failure, etc.
If you want to grow your home business, you need override this lifetime of default programming.
Reacting To Fear
Let’s start by understanding how you might react to fear.
Imagine you’re about to publish a book or apply for a freelancing opportunity. Doing so means allowing other people to form an opinion about you.
Your brain is likely to see this as a threatening situation. What if someone hates you or your book? What if nobody buys from you? What if nobody takes you seriously?
These thoughts create fear. You don’t want to experience any of these negative outcomes because you’re scared about how they will make you feel.
So you avoid publishing your book or applying to the job. You delay launching or you launch quietly. Perhaps you even give up on your dreams altogether. Giving up too soon is one of the three reasons why most online businesses fail.
These are all ways of reacting to the negative emotion.
Another way you might react is with anger or frustration. When events don’t go as you want, you feel bad and want to escape that feeling. You might lash out at people around you or start blaming external circumstances for what’s happened.
Reacting to bad feelings is a normal human response. But it never creates the results you want in your business.
The second thing you might do is resist negative emotions. A good way to explain this is with an analogy.
My kids like to play a pool game where they stand on a large, inflatable ball. They push it down beneath the water and balance on top. Of course, the inflatable always slips out from under them and pops up to the surface again.
The same happens when you resist emotions.
If you push down – or resist – an emotion, it always reappears. Often, it comes back bigger than before. In the meantime, you’ve expended unnecessary energy trying to fight the feeling.
This looks like gritting your teeth and using willpower to fight your way through the difficult situation. You’re not experiencing the fear. Instead, you are pushing the feelings and thoughts down.
This may work in the short-term but ultimately leads to increased stress, burnout, and poor-quality work.
When you’re resisting, you’re replacing one bad feeling with another. For example, you might replace fear with desperation. You are acting from a negative action energy. And this never creates positive results.
The final way you may respond to negative emotions is by reducing or numbing the feeling.
This is where you indulge in an activity to “take the edge off” or avoid the emotion altogether. Some people numb with food, alcohol, social media, shopping, Netflix, etc. The list of tricks your brain plays on you is endless.
Sometimes learning can be a way of reducing fear. If you are constantly learning without acting on what you’ve learned, then chances are you’re studying to avoid uncertainty.
Here’s another example… have you ever found yourself mindlessly flicking with your social media feed but don’t remember picking up your phone?
Your brain has learned that social media – or your other favorite distraction – gives you a pleasant dopamine hit. It will trick you into chasing the short-term buzz to escape any negative feelings.
If you recognize any of these behaviors in yourself then that’s good news! You’re becoming aware of your default patterns.
Please don’t judge yourself… all these ways of handling fear are natural human responses. They mean you have an evolved human brain that wants to keep you safe.
Okay, once you’re aware of how you may be avoiding fear, what should you do instead?
The answer is to practice allowing your emotions.
This can be a tricky concept to teach. And the best way to learn is to practice it. Over and over again.
Here is what allowing your emotions looks like…
When you notice you want to avoid a negative feeling, cease what you’re doing. If you’ve already started to react, resist, or reduce then stop.
Now, notice how the emotion feels in your body. Try labeling it – fear, stress, anxiety, overwhelm. Describe the physical sensations. Where in your body do you feel it? Is it hot or cold? What color is it? Is it hard or soft?
The trick is to not indulge in your thoughts about the feeling. Simply let yourself experience it. Process the fear through your body. The physical emotion is never as bad as the thoughts you have about it.
Then move your attention elsewhere. Focus on what you CAN do to grow your business. And not what you can’t do or are afraid to do.
Grow Your Home Business
Allowing emotions is a practice. It’s hard to learn but once you get it, you can transform your results. When you’re tempted to give up on your dreams, you’ll know what to do.
When you’re willing to experience any feeling, you can achieve anything you want in your life.
You become invincible. You grow your home business, make more money, and create real change in the world.
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