Category: <span>Self-improvement</span>

Five Toxic Thinking Styles Holding Back Your Business

We don’t always realize as women that we are the most important assets to our business, and it’s our thinking that leads (or gets in) the way of our success. The thinking patterns that drive our everyday interactions also carry over into how you show up for your business and feel about yourself. 

Why do some of the most intelligent people sabotage their success?

We all have this humble inner voice that tells us what we should be doing with our lives, who we want to be ultimately and how we should behave. It’s often influenced by our past family relationships, traumas, environmental stressors, and all the stories you’ve decided to hold on to or have trouble letting go of. Even the most brilliant woman has a story that she probably needs to release.

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Overall, the issue isn’t the stories or our mindset and thinking around our experiences, but that you’ve believed that these anxiety-provoking, limiting, or shame-based stories are true. Over time, these self-critical internal stories create an automatic narrative of how we view the world and respond to it, which also plays out with our business moves. A woman who defines her worth by her external success, and see herself as a failure when she isn’t a top performer, is more likely to be self-critical. That woman will probably feel less motivated when things don’t go as expected, may even question her whole business, and often think, “I’m not enough”. 

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How to Recognize Toxic Thinking Styles

Leading a business can trigger a rollercoaster of thoughts and emotions. We want to focus on the more negative thoughts or cognitive distortions that typically show up when you are worried, anxious, or upset. The clients I work with often struggle with overthinking, are huge procrastinators, and are good at talking themselves out of taking risks in their business. I find it empowering to help these women recognize how their thinking patterns play a role in their motivation, frustration, sense of self, and even problems like anxiety, stress, and making decisions. 

How you can recognize if your thinking is an issue is to listen to how you speak to yourself. Do you hear a lot of self-defeating, harsh, or critical statements like “I can’t do this,” “this is going to fall apart,” or “If I don’t succeed at this, I’m a failure?” Another sign of toxic thinking is giving up easily. You are ambitious and driven with impressive goals and ideas but often focus on the failures, not the successes, and give up on them too quickly. 

How to Know If Your Negative Thinking Is Affecting Your Business

While a few common unhelpful thinking styles can keep the most ambitious and intelligent woman stagnant in their business, do you know which one is common for you? Let’s take a look at five common thinking patterns that can damage your business strategy.

The Checklist of Unhelpful Thinking Styles:

Thinking styles, toxic thinking, mindset
What is your go to negative thinking pattern?

One: Should statements are prevalent and are laced with critical messages (and usually unattainable standards) and often trigger guilt and anxiety. It involves thinking about things that you believe you “should” “ought to,” or “must” do. 

It may sound like “I should be able to handle this,” or “I should be doing better by now,” or “I ought to be able to handle this .” These statements tend to dial up the pressure and make it very difficult to keep working on those business goals when you don’t achieve what you connected to those should statements. 

Two: Catastrophizing is when you jump right to the worst possible outcome for a situation. When you are constantly worried about what could happen in a scenario, it can intensify your anxiety and minimize your actions when it comes to your business. So if I go live, no one will watch, and I’ll be an epic failure. . .so instead of leaning into the fear, you avoid and don’t go live, sound familiar? 

Three: Discounting the positives is all about discounting your accomplishments and minimizing the positive qualities about yourself. For example, if you do an excellent job with that launch you’ve worked so hard on and it goes well, you reason that it was luck, it isn’t a big deal, and fail to give yourself credit for your role in the success. 

Four: Jumping to Conclusions is when you interpret a situation without the facts. There are two parts to this thinking pattern; you can either be a mind reader or a fortuneteller. 

Mind reading is when you assume that people react negatively to you or judge you when there’s no definite evidence for it. 

Fortune-telling is when you decide things will turn out badly, “I can see it now, this just isn’t going to work” or “no one is going to come .”Have you ever done that? 

Five: Mental filter is when you dwell on the negatives and ignore the positives, aka negative Nancy. 

How many of those toxic thinking styles show up for you?

The next time you find yourself overlooking the good, procrastinating, or struggling to get out of bed to slay those goals, it could be you are engaged in a toxic thinking pattern. The good news is you can learn to shift your thinking so it’s more balanced, resilient, and encouraging to help you reach your goals and tackle the most challenging situations.

How to Deal with these Mindset Missteps  

A great place to start is by noticing when you are dwelling on any negative thoughts or when there is a significant change in how you feel (like maybe more anxious). Start to get into the habit of slowing down to reassess the situation by observing and cross-examining your thoughts with the following questions:

1. Is this thought realistic?

2. Am I basing my thoughts on facts or feelings?

3. What is the evidence for this thought? Don’t simply assume your negative thought is accurate, and don’t be afraid to prove yourself wrong. 

4. Is there another way I could look at this? 

5. What would a friend say, or is there someone else I can ask for perspective.

Over time, with practice, you won’t need to consciously ask yourself these questions to shift your negative thinking. It will become automatic, and you will better be able to catch them way before they spiral out of control and get in the way of your success.  

Remember, many of these cognitive distortions or thinking patterns are common. Still, if you believe that it is negatively impacting your follow through with your business goals or your confidence, it’s a good time to talk to us about business coaching from a mindset perspective.

Psychotherapist, Coach for Women

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R isn’t just a Psychotherapist and a Mindset Coach for Ambitious Women who are business owners or striving to be. She is here to help you move from fear to success, master your emotions, and use your strengths to achieve the next level in your business. For 1:1 coaching, or to take a look at how she can support you, learn more at amandafludd.com/coaching.

Sources: American Psychological Association. What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission of anything you decide to buy to support our tea-drinking habits at no cost to you. We only recommend quality products, but you should do your research before making a purchase.

End Self Criticism and Learn To Like Yourself

You are amazing. You are more than enough. You are creative, talented, effective, and beautiful. Yet, so self critical.

The truth is, many of us often engage in a very critical inner dialogue flooded with “I can’t,” “should’s,” “what if’s,” or “I am not enough.” Words that play into catastrophic (imaginary) outcomes as it plays out in our minds (often in elaborate detail) and throws a wrench in our progress.

Have you ever wondered why you can be so self-critical and how to tackle the thought I am not enough?

Here’s to some deep soul searching today.

In rare cases, self-criticism can be helpful- it may give some valuable insight, but it’s rare. The problem with self-critical thoughts or that unchecked inner mean girl is it takes a direct hit at your confidence and sense of self. Unchecked, it increases your risk for stress or experiences like depression anxiety.

Don’t think your way out of how capable you are. Instead, remember that thoughts are not facts, and if you shift your thoughts, you can shift your experience.

Ten affirmations to replace critical conversations: 

I am capable of doing hard things.

I am focused and persistent.

I am safe.

I am in charge of my own happiness.

I am doing the best that I can.

I am capable of creating positive change.

I am the expert in the room.

I am dismantling systems that create inequity piece by piece.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I am proud of myself and all that I have accomplished.

Which of these speaks to you? 

To embrace those I am’s and respond to them in meaningful ways instead of our fears, it becomes essential to explore the source of our negative thoughts. With awareness, you can gain the insights and skills to reframe self-critical thoughts, so they don’t continue as barriers as you execute your goals.

Let’s tackle I Am Not Enough

It’s one of the most common self-critical thoughts. It is often connected to early family stories, invalidating environments, traumas, or shame-based experiences that can emotionally paralyze us in real-time. For example, Mark (definitely not his name), grew up with a very old school strict father who wanted him to “man up,” a consistent message in his young life. When his eight-year-old self (the client) brought home 90’s, it would be met with, well why isn’t it a 100?

While it was never clearly stated, what is the underlying thought or belief you hear with this example?

It’s not enough.

As a developing being, if you repeatedly hear negative messages, it can quickly become internalized into this belief that no matter how hard I work, it is not enough. I have to work extra hard to be “enough” or be seen, acknowledged, or accepted. The most challenging part is that the achievement will never resolve “I am not enough.” It becomes complicated to feel or be satisfied. This dynamic around this idea of “enough,” or any self-critical thought, can consequently create space for things like anxiety, perfectionism, worry, overworking, and stress.

How do I change the I am not enough thoughts?

A significant step to change is awareness. It’s helpful to think about where the thoughts or ideas come from.

Ask yourself when does this happen to me, and begin to get curious about the experience.

Ask, why do I feel like I’m never enough? It is important here to also take a moment to acknowledge the feelings that accompany that experience. Often those same emotions you notice were never given space and were instead met with the message don’t cry, what’s wrong with you, or feelings are a sign of weakness.

Once you realize that thoughts based on your past may still be showing up to control your present, it gets easier to address them in real-time, like using the above affirmations. The key is finding the unhelpful thoughts or beliefs based on old ideas that no longer support your life and learning to reframe them. It becomes easier to like who you have become, accept you are enough, and embrace your success with new perspectives.

Reflection Point: Changing The I Am Not Enough Thoughts 

  1. Figure out the source. Spend some time unpacking your thoughts and feelings.
  2. To help your awareness – Try journaling, meditation, or other contemplative activities to find and release the things holding you back. You can give our self-love journal a try. The prompts help you to approach self-criticism from a place of self-compassion.
  3. Every time you have a negative or critical thought, replace it with a new thought that uplifts you and makes you feel good enough. Or repeat to yourself, I am good enough or another affirmation as mentioned above. The research suggests that affirmations can help you to perform better. Spending just a few minutes thinking about your best qualities can decrease stress, increase your confidence, and improve your chances of success.

 

 

A Licensed therapist and coach for high achieving women. It’s important to note when resolving complex thoughts is challenging, it is also helpful to enlist the support of a therapist or a coach.

 

Give Yourself a Break: The Gift of Self-Compassion

When you have a setback towards your goals, treat yourself as you would a friend: with kindness and understanding

Self Compassion Supports Motivation

Even with the best plan and intention, things can go wrong. For most people, their initial reaction in the presence of failure at work is to turn up the inner critic more harshly than we’d find acceptable by anyone else.  I have no idea what’s going on here or why I’m on this team. You’re an idiot; you blew that presentation. Get it together, you’ll never have another opportunity at this.  

We often assume that criticism will motivate us to do better. In fact, most highly productive and driven people seem to be quite unforgiving of their own mistakes.  

To Motivate or To Berate—That is the Question

We hold on to this belief that with enough self-abuse, it will change whatever we believe to be “wrong,” “inadequate,” or “imperfect” about us. Yes, that degree of negativity you drop on yourself falls under the category of abuse, and it really doesn’t move you any closer to your intended outcome. Self-criticism can be paralyzing, and it’s a response that has brought many to my couch as a psychotherapist. While I am grateful to have you, I would like to offer you this instead- what if you were to treat yourself with a bit more understanding and compassion?  

 

When things don’t go as expected, or a goal seems out of your reach, what would you tell a friend in the same situation? That is called self-compassion, and it’s an approach that allows leaders to increase their resilience and outthink their setbacks.  

 

The Science Behind Compassion 

There is growing research supporting things like compassion and gratitude, supporting its motivational power on a psychological level. It’s becoming a valuable tool for enhancing performance and improving professional development. Self-compassionate people set high standards for themselves, and in the face of setbacks, when they don’t meet their goals, they are more likely to regroup quickly. They are less likely to get hung up on mistakes or sidetracked by feelings of embarrassment, frustration, and disappointment. In fact, according to recent neuroscientific data, those who exhibit compassion are more likely to have the emotional resilience to combat suffering, anxiety, burnout, or stress, according to Frontiers in Psychology.     

 

“Unlike self-criticism, which asks if you are good enough, self-compassion asks what’s good for you?” – Kristin Neff

Let’s put this into action: 

 

I’m inviting you to try a short experiment. Bring to mind a situation when you didn’t achieve your goal. Please take a few moments to recall the response of your inner critical voice and note what it says and how you feel, especially in your body. 

Now, bring to mind the same situation and imagine what you would say to your colleague or good friend in the same case if they brought that same failure to you. Say the exact words you would tell them to yourself (that’s self-compassion). How does that feel in your body?

 

If you did this short exercise, you probably noticed the following:

Self-criticism made you feel:

· Small

· Incompetent

· Embarrassed

· Tense

· Wanting to quit or give up

 

 Self-compassion made you feel:

· Validated 

· Understood

· Good enough

· Relaxed and calm 

 

Self-compassion is a mindset shift leaders and managers can benefit from because it reinforces worth, optimism, personal initiative, self-determination, and a sense of control even in the context of the pressure to succeed. These traits tend to be contagious and have a consequent ability to foster resilient teams. Developing a self-compassionate self and team does take time but is possible with intentional effort. Organizations should look at ways to create space for conversations and resources around compassion and navigating stress and change in the workplace.   

A few additional ideas to foster the overall resilience of your organization:

Improve your self-talk. Practice responding to yourself in ways you would to support a colleague, embrace criticism from others as a means to personal growth, and engaging with others without judgment or in a tone that would hurt their feelings.

Bring in workshops to grow as a team. Create opportunities for staff to learn from each other, for leaders to take their teams’ temperature, and boost morale and promote better staff engagement.  Bring in professionals with fresh ideas or a similar option is to set aside funding to allow staff to pursue outside opportunities (books, webinars, training) that will support their emotional wellbeing. As they invest in themselves, they become a more incredible asset to your team.

Prioritize communication and mental health at work. Having regular meetings where people are encouraged to share not only work achievements but mistakes and experiences around that make workplaces safe for learning. Also, work to improve access to support services onsite (training, consultations, mindful breaks) and outside of work (like EAP). Making compassionate and supportive workplaces a priority reduces pressure, anxiety and improves an organization’s resilience to stress, burnout, and turnover.

It’s innovative approaches that focus on self-compassion and overall well-being that will determine if teams, individuals, and organizations can embrace a more adaptive attitude and thrive through challenging experiences and transitions.

In the comments, make sure to share with us how well you think organizations are embracing concepts like compassion and emotional wellness at work and whether you believe well-being training might be valuable to your team.

 

Amanda Fludd is a Licensed Psychotherapist, Coach, and Mental Health Consultant addressing the emotional needs of individuals and the work cultures that support them.

If you would like information on how to infuse mental health support at work and facilitate practices like self-compassion, schedule a call here to discuss program options.

 

 

What Power Do Words Have?

The current state of African Americans in this country has reached a boiling point. If we didn’t want to acknowledge that there was a need for therapy before, we certainly cannot ignore it anymore! We have seen, heard, read, and even have our own stories to tell when it comes to being unfairly mistreated. For this very reason, last week we held a “gathering” that included a panel of talented men and women that shared their experiences and how we can become unstuck and unbothered by what we are being faced with. 

The conversation began with understanding the power of words. When we were younger we heard the childhood comeback,”Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. That statement is so far from the truth I can’t believe we used to say it. What about the command “children should be seen and not heard”? How many conversations did you not have because of those words? How many painful secrets have you kept?  Words can heal, contribute to shame, build up, or even break down a person’s spirit. Once we realize the power in our words, we can understand how to use them for growth and encouragement. The power of words can change your life. Affirmations are a great way to begin your day to build yourself up to be able to handle whatever life may throw at you. Building yourself up is extremely important because you cannot pour from an empty glass. 

From there “the gathering” shifted the conversation to a macro level, exploring systems in this country and its subtle (or direct) cumulative bias messages, practices and policies. Often people make reference to the system not working and being considered “broken”. Our panelists brought to attention the fact that the system is “working” according to the way it was designed. Have you ever thought about that? Consider the 13th Amendment of the constitution where “blacks” were supposed to be included in the statement, “We the People”. This implies that before this amendment “We” were not considered “the People”. What are those words saying there? Consequently, the entire system was designed to work for “the People” that were originally included. That is the issue with systematic racism, it’s been engrained for a long time, and the actions related to those ideas are often automatic and unconscious. Change requires that the system is dissected by reevaluating our current and longstanding narratives and rebuilding systems as a whole. Systems, in this case, are larger institutions like the education system or the culture of policing, and big business where minorities remain exactly that. Last but not least, we are all responsible for looking at ourselves regardless of the shade of our skin.   

A catalyst for reform came after the video of George Floyd. For centuries we have seen African Americans abused and mistreated, but what made that our breaking point? One idea that was introduced for discussion was the fact that due to the pandemic, we were sheltered in place and already frustrated with that experience, and there was little else to focus on. The pandemic had forced everyone to slow down and pay attention. We had just learned of Ahmad Aubry, and one more black injustice was enough! It triggered an instinctual trauma reaction, fight, flee or freeze. Many decided to fight.  Secondary trauma can have just as much as an impact as experiencing trauma yourself. Everytime you turn on the news you can’t help but see the replays of a man losing his life, protests throughout the world, additional videos of unjust treatment, insensitive comments by “the people”, plus the effects of the pandemic. Perhaps enough is enough.

AffirmSo what can we do about how we are feeling? Let’s talk about it. Mental health should be viewed the same as going for a well check. The mind is a powerful thing and should be cared for the same as a stomach ache. Make no mistake witnessing a trauma is just as powerful as being a victim and racial trauma is complex and has been experienced for generations. The impact is lodged in our bodies and our minds. The signs of too much stress may look like: anxiety, irritability, trouble sleeping, distrust, emotional and social withdrawal, fatigue, wild dreams and periods of unexplained sadness. It’s a challenging experience that will continue to be challenged over the next few months. If left unaddressed it can compromise your emotional and physical well-being.

So if you are unsure about your experiences or have questions about what you feel, consider speaking with a therapist to help you work through your emotions. You can also grab the free Unstuck and Unbothered Guide here. Inspired by the recent webinar on the power of your words, this guide takes the time to explore what you are saying to yourself, how to shift it, and speak in ways others can hear you, while listening with empathy as you take proactive steps to change the narrative of your life. It is a reminder that our words have power and there is a need to keep that in the forefront of our minds. 

Kensho Psychotherapy Services is here to offer support and help through your difficult time. Mindset Coaching is also available for dynamic women of color in business who need of a boost in their lives. Amanda Fludd has helped hundreds of women find their power, courage and confidence to be their authentic selves both in their professional and personal lives. If you aren’t sure what you need, that’s ok, send us an inquiry at support@amandafludd.com

For more information visit our site:  www.amandafludd.com

A special thank you to the Unbothered and Unstuck Panelists: Jennell Smith, Singer and Song Writer on IG  @jlatoymusic; Tamara Dopwell, LMSW, Activist & Socially Conscious Tee Shirt Designer at: http://www.designsbytee3.com; And Mr. Richard Celestine, ESQ, and advocate for Juvenile Justice on IG@the_inspirational_lawyer and LinkedIn: www.LinkedIn.com/in/richard-celestin

Revamping Self Care. The Pandemic Edition

Pandemic Coping Skills

 

If you weren’t exercising your self-worth before this apocalyptic level crisis by balancing daily demands with our natural need to say “no”, “rest” and “recharge”, well for sure, the time has come to indulge and nurture what you’ve neglected. Don’t presume that one takes a back seat while navigating the new demands of remote work, google classroom or a looming recession. Regardless of your evolving role, pausing to engage in self-care may be one of the key tools to protect your energy so we can survive and thrive through this pandemic.

Let’s call out this thing for what it is, insane! It’s a profound loss of control that has shown up in every aspect of our lives and that is exactly what trauma is. Adding on to this ordeal is the physical and mental strain on our health. This shows up differently for everyone depending on several factors like emotional support, ability to self-care and skills to cope. It may look like irritability, restlessness, constant worry, a decrease in productivity, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, loneliness, increased flashbacks, self-doubt, depression and more.

Why self-care? We all need to take time out to decompress and let some of the steam off. This lessens the impact of stress and worry that is building in the background.

Raise your hand if you aren’t stressed and worried. . .crickets.

Pausing means taking time to nurture your needs and for some, some untreated emotional wounds.

How to get started– Take a minute (actually get out a piece of paper and a timer and set it for one minute) and jot down all the things you love to do or maybe wanted to do but just didn’t have the time to do. Now push yourself a little bit further for the next five minutes and think deeper about what you really need to nurture right now. Now take a look at your loves list and consider what you can add to further nurture your needs. For example, going to church is one way I recharge but I don’t have access to this form of reconnecting right now, at least not in the same way. Nevertheless, I can listen to a YouTube worship service or dynamic inspirational song at my desk while at work daily. I can add devotionals to my nurture list or learning a bible based affirmation. My strength comes from the Lord.

Once you have your list ready, the next part just requires regular and consistent action on your part. Take a few things from your list, especially the ones you can do now considering the circumstances and build it into your daily schedule. That’s it.

Your Pandemic Edition Plan might look like this:

  1. Pausing daily to check in with what you need emotionally, physically and spiritually. Notice it and nurture it. Maybe incorporate some meditation or mindfulness practices. Check out the calm.com app, Headspace or Stop Breathe Think. A colleague and I are also hosting a Virtual Wellness Summit on 4.25.20 to help you pause, reconnect and recharge. You should come, it’s free. Register on Eventbrite: https://bit.ly/34OuTOT. Or consider other similar events.
  2. Figure out your daily routine to incorporate the items you love and to make sure you are creating things to look forward to during your day. Without goal directed action it’s easier to lose track of time and procrastinate as days blend together. Read, write, take a drawing class or enroll in a free course at Yale (yup, that’s happening).
  3. Take time to connect: Call, text, or even write to a loved one or a friend to not just see how they are doing, but to chat about live, practice being social, and maybe as a byproduct find inspiration to you. Of course its ok to set limits on this. If you just don’t feel like talking, that’s ok. Another great option is joining some online groups with friends or finding events like the one mentioned above through Eventbrite or maybe even link up with a charitable group to be of service to others and foster a sense of connection while supporting your community.
  1. Move your body. Your body is craving to be noticed and to move. There is freedom and healing in our bodies, especially when we connect it to silence or the rhythm of our ancestors. Try a free yoga application like Down Dogg in the App store or free online workouts being offered by YMCA. You can also join in on the IG DJ Battles and dance it off, or maybe even join your kids for a “Just Dance” session in the Livingroom. 
  2. Get outside. Walk, run or just sit outside and get some fresh air and sun. Kick off your shoes and feel the earth beneath you- we call this type of grounding “earthing”. As you ground yourself use that time to think about a few reasons to be grateful.

Continue to ground yourself in the one thing that you have control over: Simple acts of self-care and nourishment of one’s mind. Taking it in step by step each day. I am grateful for you, proud of you for doing the best you can, and wish you endless days of self-love, care, compassion, phenomenal health and healing.

Author: Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R  4.24.2020

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