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Chapter 2: Overcome Debilitating Self-Doubt (con’t)…The Rider

Updated: Mar 1, 2022

The saying by Marshall Goldsmith, “what got you here, won’t get you there” rings true for the misfit entrepreneur. The biggest hurdle for many misfit entrepreneurs is getting out of your own way…for me that manifested as debilitating self-doubt. Other’s may struggle with different fears or limiting beliefs that hold them back.

The good news is that you have the ability to learn and grow, rewriting your story so that you build a bridge between where you are and where you want to be. There has been a tremendous amount of research indicating the plasticity of the brain, challenging the notion that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.

My Grandmom is a testament to the fact that you can learn and grow as you age. In her 80’s she started putting flaxseed on her oatmeal because she learned it was good for your health. Sure, she had some habits that she never changed. But to be fair, they worked for her. And you have some things that work well for you that you might not want to change either.

Learning how to be fear facing is a must though. There are a variety of inputs that will add to your fear. Many societal norms suggest you wait, play it safe and have everything figured out before you leap. And your own inner voice will feed to your fears as well, putting forth convincing arguments that do not serve your efforts to turn you vision into reality.  You need not be a victim to your own thoughts!

Your Inner Voice Emerged From Your Childhood Experiences

I have a really nasty inner voice or critique. One of the first people I shared my journaling timeline with observed, “You are very hard on yourself!”

Yes, yes I am. It is not something I am particularly proud of. I sometimes envy people that do not constantly shit-talk themselves. Suffice it to say, my shit-talking inner critique was posing some very serious and real problems for my entrepreneurial endeavors…debilitating self-doubt.

I had to do something about this destructive inner critique that was constantly crushing my hopes and dreams…or at least making a lot more, unnecessary, work for myself. Rick Carson, author of Taming Your Gremlin provides some fabulous exercises for you to reflect on your beliefs, habits and childhood experiences so that you can create a characature of your inner critique.

Developing a characature helps to deconstruct your inner critique so that you can deal, otherwise you have become so used to his chatter that it is like white noise, you don’t even know that it is there. Your inner critique has his own conversational habit patterns. The things he says push your buttons. He inherently limits your potential and stunts your growth by reinforcing a narrow and limiting worldview that allows you to hold yourself back.

The Power of Observation

Hopefully, by now I have convinced you to get to know your inner voice better! So, where do you start? Observation and presence. With this we are going back to the notion of nonjudgemental listening by “simply noticing” what is happening in your own mind.

Carson says, “To simply notice is to be aware – to pay attention…it is important to simply notice how you are-not why you are how you are, but how you are. Thinking about and simply noticing are very different processes.”

This is a profound differentiation, especially for over-thinkers like me. I revealed a lot about my inner critique when I took this approach of simply noticing. It can be hard to observe your own thoughts. To begin you may want to take a few deep breaths, then make observations about the world around. “There’s a car driving by, the sun is shinning thru the window, there’s a beeping noise, it is cool in here.”

Then you can start to make observations about your body, “I feel cool, I am thirsty, my neck aches.”

At 8 Years Old, I Finally Learned How to Read

At 8 Years Old, I Finally Learned How to Read

All of these activities, require your attention and focus to be fully present in the moment. Now, it is time to listen to your mind. My own inner critique often says things like this, “Now everyone is going to find out how dumb you really are, Ariana.” (I told you he is mean and nasty.) The trick is to notice these thoughts without engaging with them.  In other words, I don’t argue with my inner critique, it is hard not to react defensively, “No I’m not!”

My inner critique plays on my insecurities and yours does too. Once you start to observe your thoughts you will likely notice patterns. We each have certain words or phrases that will trigger a fear reaction within. For me, the fear of being perceived as dumb comes directly out of my childhood struggles learning how to read.  When we experience fear we instinctually go into a mode of self-preservation and protection, doing what we think is best to maintain a sense of safety.

Being a misfit entrepreneur inherently feels unsafe at times. Even though you may believe that taking ownership of your life is the only way to secure your future happiness, the risks you will take and the leaps of faith you will make feel scary and unsafe. At the same time these growth points feel exhilarating and lively. Hence the rollercoaster ride of up’s and down’s. Both extremes may pose their own unique challenges and opportunities.

Don’t Take Anything Personally

Your inner voice tells you stories that can turn an innocuous situation into what feels like an assault. That happened to me when I felt like professional colleagues had stabbed me in the heart. I took their actions very personally when in-fact what they did had nothing to do with me.

We all do this all the time. Someone does not email or call you back and suddenly there is a story that emerges in your mind, interpreting the lack of communication as a sign that they don’t care or they think they are too important for you.

The truth is, no one is thinking about you as much as you are thinking about you! don Miguel Ruiz wisely wrote in the Four Agreements “Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”

Later on you learn that they didn’t call you back because they were taking care of a sick parent that was in the hospital = has nothing to do with you. Meanwhile you wasted time, energy and emotional bandwidth taking things personally.

There is a flip side to this coin; you cannot take the good things personally either. And that is even harder for many people, myself included.

Not taking things personally helps you detach your self-worth from both the disses and affirmations of others. You are amazing, wonderful and beautiful because you are you. Not because of what you built, not because your business is a success, not because you won a cool prize. Your worth and value is inherent in your being true to you.  And that inner shit-talking voice is not your true self!

Digging Deeper

Taming Your Gremlin

The voice of your inner critique comes out of your childhood experiences, habits and beliefs. Learning to identify and move past your inner critique is vital to getting out of your own way. In addition to helping readers observe and characterize their gremlins, Carson also provides simple, counter-intuitive strategies for subduing the impact of your inner critique. One of my favorite gremlin taming methods is “accenting the obvious,” which is when you vocalize what your gremlin is saying aloud in a silly voice. He goes on to share common strategies that your inner voice may employ to fill you with fear!

The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz

don Miguel Ruiz shares ancient Toltec wisdom in this short, inspirational and eye-opening book. He brings to light the fact that society molds us into making agreements with ourselves that cause us to experience unnecessary struggles in life. Then goes onto suggest that there are only four fundamental agreements one must make and keep with oneself. They are: 1) Be Impeccable with your Word, 2) Don’t Take Anything Personally, 3) Don’t Make Assumptions, 4) Always Do Your Best. Embracing the Four Agreements will empower you to be truer to yourself and therefor enjoy freedom.

Reflection Questions

  1. In what ways are you sabotaging your future aspirations?

  2. What fears do you have about your entrepreneurial endeavors?

  3. How would you characterize your inner dialogue?

  4. What will you experimenting with doing differently in the next week to set yourself up for success?

Do you know a misfit entrepreneur that could benefit from some inspiration to face their fears?   Send this post along to them and help spread the word!

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