It's Not Just Kids Who Tell Fibs (entrepreneurs do it too!)
How many times have you sent an important email or text to someone, expecting a quick reply and when it doesn’t come, think to yourself: why haven’t they replied? I've said the wrong thing! They don't like me/want to work with me!
And of course, because we start thinking like that, we might feel some anxiety coming on, or even get cross or irritable when we think about that person. Before we know it, we’ve had an entire conversation with them... in our head!
That’s the thing isn’t it - it’s all going on in our head!
In other words, we are applying our own negative spin on something without actually knowing for sure, and making stuff up and believing it to be true is not what our brains are designed to do. It’s a misuse of the imagination because actually, it's there to help us creatively find our way out of problems. In other words, our brains are meant to work as problem-solving, not problem creating machines.
Back in 2008, when I first trained as a hypnotherapist, I remember learning about the psychologist Martin Seligman who did some very interesting work in the US with some of the angriest kids from inner city schools. He would show them pictures of different scenarios and ask the kids what they thought was going on. One example was of a scene in a school's canteen queue, with one child tipping over another’s tray. The responses that came back were along the lines of well he hates his guts, they’ve had a fight earlier on and it's just carrying on, they are arch enemies, and so on.
When encouraged by Seligman to look again and this time to be more creative, the perspective began to open up: maybe the tray slipped out of his hand? There might be a bag on the floor that tripped him up? Maybe he’s not feeling well? What if he’s a bit clumsy? Or he has something wrong with his brain or his legs? When put like that, it becomes more probable that any one of these statements could be true, and actually the more there are, the more we realise we just don’t know the real reason!
When someone is experiencing anxiety, anger or depression, they are said to be in a very narrowed and focused state of attention, almost like a trance state. All logical thinking goes out of the window, and everything becomes very black and white – all or nothing thinking takes over. They are quick to give one meaning to something without knowing the facts, and that’s the viewpoint they hold on to. Maybe you’ve experienced this yourself at times, or with others? It’s very difficult to change the mind of someone who has one viewpoint on a situation. It's also this kind of thinking that can drive someone towards depression.
So, having an open mind doesn't just make you an interesting person to be around, it keeps you out of depression too!
It's OK not to have an opinion on everything, there's something really freeing about being able to say "I don't know" - don't you think?
It starts by widening your perspective on situations, and you can start that anytime. The next time something or someone annoys you and you find yourself jumping to conclusions, take a step back and ask yourself: “OK that’s one perspective yes, but what else could be going on here?” Ask your brain come up with at least three other reasons, (and it will if you ask it to), and when it does - watch your emotional state quite quickly begin to calm down.
Thanks for reading, hope you found that useful? Hello, I'm Sarah Swanton, founder of Happy Healthy Entrepreneur, and I teach entrepreneurs how to make the most of their mental health & wellbeing, so they can enjoy the 'inner journey' of being self-employed and create a business that supports them, not exhausts them! If you'd like to delve more into what it means to be a happy, healthy entrepreneur, then sign up to receive my weekly newsletter, and check out my self-study online course Reignite Your Entrepreneur Resilience.