In the song, Three Little Birds Bob Marley sings, “Don’t worry, about a thing
’cause every little thing, is gonna be all right.”
Most people sigh and think, “Yes, that’s right Bob.” However, can an entrepreneur really put that into practice?
As a mindset coach, I have found that worrying is a crafty form of self-sabotage, sort of like a mirage. It tricks you into believing that you are productive, proactive and creating safety for yourself by worrying. In reality, however, worrying is both physically draining and a huge source of time waste.
If we put “worry” under a microscope, you would see that part of the mind focuses on problems, sees doom and gloom in the future and asks “what if this happens.” Feelings of worry, anxiety and fear are produced at an accelerated rate to make you hyperaware and on high alert. Flight or fright is the predominant state of mind. It limits clear thinking, confidence and appropriate action. Often it is reactive and ineffective.
Yet worry is often seen as a positive attribute and is used as a strategy. If you worry you are more conscientious and responsible. It means you are caring and connected with others. How many times would you hear the words “I’m only telling you my concerns (worry) because I care.” Your friend or loved one is connecting with you by prompting you to worry. You agree, and start your own act of worrying to be connected and accepted.
Using worry as a strategy is interesting and in some ways, quite brilliant. The origin of this strategy comes from beliefs taught to us in childhood by our parents or primary caretakers. We learn from a very young age that worrying is a way to keep safe and avoid making mistakes. Mistakes and failures are taught to be avoided at all costs. We are instructed to become focused and anxious and by extension alert to danger.
Unfortunately, mistakes are not taught as a valuable learning experience that helps your mind
and knowledge grow but rather as a painful experience necessary for survival. It is such a profound transfer of “lived experience” that we subconsciously internalize our parent’s worry mindset and beliefs. They become part of our personality automatically triggered when we are in new situations that are unknown.
For example, one of my clients, an entrepreneur I’ll call Sandy, employs worry so much that she told me that “it’s just her, she’s a worrywart.” Sandy grew up with a mother that worried frequently. She used the expression “I worry about you” with a pinched look on her face that resulted in Sandy creating a belief that to worry is to care. Yes, parents worry, but is it a productive way of parenting?
Of course not. So why do we still do it?
We know it’s draining, and often has physical effects like fatigue and lack of sleep. Yet, “click” and the worry part of our mind starts up, doing its work like a high achieving employee. We allow it because we subconsciously believe it is valuable.
When I ask a client, “what is the benefit to worrying?” They will have a comprehensive list; most prominently, it keeps them safe from failure.
“Lisa,” believed that worrying about money guards against financial ruin. In her growing up years, her father had been a serial entrepreneur who invested the family savings into his business. His business failed and the family was put under tremendous stress. So much so, that Lisa’s parents broke up and her mum was always treading financial water. Witnessing that event and absorbing the negative energy of “worry” created a decision that would affect Lisa’s emotional state for the rest of her life. She believed that if you didn’t worry regularly about money and decisions made, you would put your family in danger.
Worry becomes a little machine churning away underneath the surface, chronic and automatic. Unfortunately, logical thinking couldn’t necessarily penetrate when this part of Lisa’s mind took over.
The real-life consequences of worry can create circumstances that the very thing that the worry part was fearful of, financial danger. For example, Lisa’s worry about money caused her to fear not having enough and she made decisions based on that fear. She would procrastinate on paying bills on time or hesitate to hire full-time employees for fear that she may not make enough to keep them. Logically, she knew this was preventing her from growing her business but she couldn’t make the move.
Essentially Lisa was not living in the present but in the old memories of her parent’s situation. As a kid, she adopted their worry and stored old energy and beliefs without even realizing it. She carried this old baggage forward as she grew older and became more like her parents. This body of beliefs is what I call ancestral beliefs. Some ancestral beliefs serve us well and others should be eliminated.
Many beliefs automatically update as we grow older because we learn new ways of approaching life, but childhood trauma can sometimes cause parts of our minds to get stuck. My CBE Practitioner friends used to joke that it is like the song from the Rocky Horror Picture Show “Time Warp.” We get stuck in a time warp where worry is seen as a productive strategy to avoid danger and harm.
The fortunate thing is that entrepreneurs tend to be more self-aware than other professions because it’s a business necessity. You are often learning on your feet and taking chances. That means having to rely on your judgement and mental strength. If you are experiencing negative emotions that cloud your confidence to make decisions, it can hold your business growth back and result in goals not being met. This is also why entrepreneurs tend to tune into mindset education and be open to the deeper “belief surgery” that I offer.
I always tell my kids that worry is a waste of time because most of the time you can’t control the situation. It’s what I heard from mom. I don’t always follow this sage advice but I do know that worrying has a high cost and it’s not an effective planning or a problem-solving approach as we mistakenly tell ourselves. You don’t care more for someone because you worry. In fact, the opposite is true. It shows you don’t have confidence in them.
We are not our parents and we don’t need to live by outdated strategies taught to us when there was real scarcity and danger. It’s the twentieth-first century and we have less to worry about than ever before; the world has never been wealthier, healthier (we found the MRRA vaccine very quickly) or more educated. There really is endless opportunities if you change your fear to confidence.
In my Core Belief “surgery” I have learned that people’s minds do what they know. It’s not always good knowledge that we learn and, like a machine, negative impact beliefs can be retooled to work differently. Feelings like self-confidence, creativity and self-trust lie beneath the surface waiting to be restored. All the old fear-based automatic patterns like worry are no longer entrenched and entrepreneurs like Sarah can embrace the possibilities and feel that their potential is limitless.