This morning I asked my 12-year-old daughter what she would feel if she now had to run my business.
She physically recoiled, and said: “I’d feel stressed and overwhelmed.”
And then I asked her, what kind of thoughts would you have, and she said:
- I don’t know how to run all this stuff, it’s too complicated.
- I don’t want to have to work that hard. I want to still be able to play.
- I really would rather have someone else take care of it.
- I wouldn’t know what to do. I would need a lot of help.
Do any of these thoughts and feelings sound familiar?
I hear them on a regular basis from clients and students – and all kinds of people in business – when they are brave enough to acknowledge what is really going on inside of them.
Because even though these thoughts and feelings may be familiar, most people hide them, just like they learned to do in grade school, middle school, and high school, and put on a front so that they would at least appear to have it all together.
Many times these thoughts and feelings are accompanied by others that also got generated earlier in life, ones like these:
- People don’t like me, or they don’t like me unless I’m focused on them.
- People won’t like me if I speak up about what matters to me (i.e. my business).
- I’m not smart enough, attractive enough, articulate enough or outgoing enough.
- It’s no use, it’s not going to work anyway, so why should I try.
Today I want to make two critical points about all of this.
(1) Having your inner child or inner teenager get activated in the process of building your business is NORMAL. It’s normal in two senses.
First, in that it’s the norm, it’s typical, it happens to most people at least some of the time. And second it’s normal in that it’s to be expected when you are doing something that is such a potent opportunity for personal growth – which business certainly is.
Your inner child and/or teenager get activated because you are stretching into new, unknown territory which you may not have gotten adequate training for – that, too, is typical for service providers – and that triggers your energy around being liked, accepted, part of the gang/community, etc.
The parts of you that are carrying unhealed wounds or sensitivities from earlier in life get brought to the surface in situations like this. Of course that can be uncomfortable. But it’s also a tremendous gift.
Because then you have an excellent opportunity to actually resolve those wounds –provided that you realize that this is what is happening and you decide to take command of the situation rather than have these young parts run you – your life and your business.
In another blog article, “The Gift of the Trigger,” I talk more extensively about this process. Let me say here that when triggers arise you have the opportunity to learn about what is more often stored within your subconscious – and therefore running your life without your conscious awareness or consent. And when you learn about it you can change it!
(2) It is your responsibility to learn to work with these parts of yourself so that they are not dominating your consciousness, but instead operate in their rightful place as an aspect of your personality.
The first step, of course is awareness. For you to realize that this is what is happening. To gain perspective on yourself so that you are not just completely blended with that child/teenager within, but also have an observing, witnessing element as well. This can either be your mature self, or soul self – or some combination of the two. Either way, you have an aspect of who you are that can witness the child/teenager. Just that simple (but not always easy) step can make an enormous difference, bringing you relief and insight from the experience of the wounded part.
Because the truth is, your inner child/teenager is NOT EQUIPPED to run your business. You get overwhelmed because that part does not have the maturity, knowledge of the world, or access to resources that are needed to do this work. That part does not have the intellectual capacity to make sound decisions or know how to evaluate an opportunity or organize her time and attention effectively.
But you do. You DO. As a mature adult, you do have all of these. You may not know exactly what to do all the time. None of us do. That’s why we take training courses and have coaches. I certainly do. I just invested in another training course this week, and signed on for another year with my coach. Because I KNOW that I need resources and guidance and I invest in getting them on a regular basis. That is the act of a mature personality – getting the right strategic training and guidance when you need it.
Throwing money at trainings and coaches is NOT a mature act. Buying things on a whim to make yourself feel better – that’s a child who has a credit card trying to solve her overwhelm by putting her issues on someone else’s shoulders. I see this all too often – and unfortunately the coaching industry as a whole preys on this behavior way more than I like.
Or the other side – not investing in the support you need because you don’t trust it (like you don’t trust the teachers or parents you grew up around). Or even worse, you don’t utilize the training and support you paid for because your child feels overwhelmed by new challenges – and you allow yourself to stay stuck in that place.
But you can change this – when you know what is happening and you decide to make changing this a priority. One thing to determine for yourself is how extreme is this blending for you, and how much are you living your life through the eyes of an overwhelmed child?
This is both a psychological and a spiritual matter, and I want to share resources with you about both.
The work that comes out of Internal Family Systems – known as IFS or “Parts Work” can be very helpful for being able to identify and work with your inner landscape from a psychological point of view. They have a great website at www.selfleadership.org with lots of information, and a list of practitioners all over. They also have a bookstore with many resources. This is a non-pathologizing approach to personal growth and development that is highly practical and that you can use everyday in your business.
For a spiritual approach, the work of my main teachers Sanaya Roman and her guide Orin is very beneficial for learning about and evolving your personality. Their book Living with Joy, and meditation series “Transforming Your Personality” are great places to start. They have an enormous library of work created over the last 30 years. You can access it at www.OrinDaBen.com.
If you have tried a more spiritual or transformational approach to working with your inner child/teenager and you have not yet gotten the command of your consciousness that enables you to be effective on a daily basis, then you would benefit from a more psychological approach. Having worked with MANY clients and students over the years on exactly these issues (and with myself and in my family, too), I can say for sure that sometimes transformational work misses the mark and you need something more basic or primary. The IFS work – or working with a talented therapist – is then the route you want to take.
Overwhelm, confusion, fear of work and commitment can be overcome with more awareness and purpose. This does NOT mean you have to then work yourself to death. It does mean you need to find a way to develop a relationship to work that enables you to be focused, effective, and purposeful – and to enjoy the journey. Because without that, none of this is worth it!
Engagement and work are required. Struggle and suffering are optional.