Every small business owner deals with the ups and downs of running a small business. Your life can seem like it’s on an out of control roller coaster. You can go from happy to sad, frustrated to excited, and hopeful to hopeless in one day. Sometimes you go through all those feelings in one hour or one minute. Who can blame you? You’re tasked with having to wear many hats, manage a lot of people or projects, and be a leader. It’s a lot for anyone to take on whether they have a staff supporting them or not.
Junkfood & Healthfood
Your negative thoughts are like junk food. They are easy to consume, seem to be everywhere you look, and always tempting you to have just one more. It takes no effort to think negative thoughts; they are often just right there. Sort of like chips, you have one then another, and before you know it, you’ve eaten the whole bag, and you feel awful. You might step back and say “crap!” what have I done, aka why did I spend so much time dwelling on this issue or that.
Conversely, positive thoughts are more like exercise. It takes effort to focus on being positive and grateful, especially in the face of all the little first you may deal with throughout the day. You see, positive thoughts take effort. They don’t come to you like negative thoughts. Positive thoughts have to be put into your system through intention. Similarly, your mind has to be exercised, just like your body. If you don’t exercise your mind and feed it the right things, then it becomes flabby and out of shape.
Your Brain and Meditation
You’ve probably heard of meditation and how great it is. In theory, it sounds nice, but hey, you’re busy, and the business isn’t going to run it’self. So instead of putting time into meditation, you wake up first thing in the morning and jump onto the hamster wheel of your business. There are emails to check, numbers to review, and a slew of other tasks that to addressed when the day starts; that’s understandable.
Now, let’s talk about why you should meditate or use some sort of mental exercise. Did you know that when you get stressed out, parts of your brain start to become disconnected from each other? When you’re stressed, your sympathetic nervous system goes into hyper-drive, and you’re in fight or flight mode. This reaction can be temporary, but most small business owners live in this state. Some owners are this way because they are trying to make it through the day while others are this way because the business is doing well but is pulling them in a million different directions.
Being in a constant state of stress causes the different parts of your brain to start disconnecting from each other. This disconnection causes you to be less efficient, less creative, and less emotionally connected. Do you think someone getting chased by a bear is thinking calm and collected? Nope, they’re thinking fuck, fuck, fuck. A bear is going to eat me, RUUUUNNNNN! When your brains stuck in this mode, it only focuses on survival, and everything else gets left by the wayside.
Meditation is the key to breaking the flight or fight response and getting your brain back to a place of coherence. When you meditate, you move out of the sympathetic nervous system, and you start to move into the autonomic system. The autonomic system focuses on the automatic functions of your body, like breathing. Meaning that there’s no stress in this system there’s just calm.
After about one week of daily meditation, your brain starts to reconnect, and brain scans show this phenomenon. When the parts of your brain are working together in coherence, you get to a place of centeredness. Now you’re not dealing with stress, adrenaline and other hormones that send you spiraling. Once this centeredness happens, you can start to think, focus on, and react to situations in your business more clearly.
Types of Meditation
There are many types of meditation available, and you’ll need to try a few to figure out what fits your personality and schedule. There are apps, videos on youtube, and audio recordings to aid you in your meditative practice. Headspace wrote an excellent article on the 16 types of meditation that you can find here.
Guided vs. Unguided
Two main things to know about meditation are that they come in guided and unguided formats. Unguided uses music or soundscapes designed to help you go into a meditative state. It’s up to you where you want to go from there. Guided meditation is where a narrator guides you through the process. The guide will tell you what to picture in your thoughts or guide you through emotions like love or gratitude.
If you’re just getting started, then guided will probably be a better option for you. It’s easier to have some guide you through the process until you become familiar enough to guide yourself without losing your train of thought or getting distracted along the way.
Along with or as an alternative to meditation, you can use mental exercises. Here are three popular practices that take about 5 minutes each, and can be done together or multiplied for a stacking effect.
You’ve probably heard about this as it relates to sports. You visualize the outcome of whatever you’re doing. So a basketball player might invasion shooting a three-pointer over and over again. Research has shown that this starts to map the neural pathways in your brain to perform that exercise and is almost identical to completing that task physically. So, why can’t you use it in your business? Can you visualize your perfect day, perfect meeting, or ideal sales call? You bet your ass that you can!
Imprinting is where you tell yourself something over and over again until it gets imprinted into your subconscious. When you were in school, the same thing happened with your multiplication tables. You repeated 8×8 is 64 over and over again until you just knew what 8×8 was without having to think about it.
Affirmations are similar to imprinting but have a slightly different structure. A typical affirmation is like a page of things you want to code into your subconscious. Below are a few examples to give you the idea.
- I will speak and act with confidence to create abundance and wealth in my life and the lives of others.
- There are tremendous opportunities in the marketplace, and I have the talent and skills to be tremendously successful.
- I can find new clients and financial opportunities daily, and I can do it with ease.
Why does this work?
Think of your subconscious as a computer. When you put harmful programs into the operating system, you run into all kinds of trouble. Your computer might crash, run slow, or start doing some bizarre stuff. These programs get there because of what you dwell on as well as experiences from the past.
So, in essence, meditation is used to start to fix the operating system at its core, and the mental exercises are like new programs you want to have to replace or remove the bad ones. The gist is you can be positive, think with clarity, and run your business more efficiently if you take control of your mind instead of letting your mind control you.