Stuck? In Your Own Way? This Is Important for You to Know

Which of your tendencies or qualities make you feel like you're in your own way? Something that stands between you and your goals, dreams, productivity, inspiration, or whatever areas of life where you're not completely happy?

Here's why I ask.

We sometimes dislike or become frustrated by aspects of whom we appear to be–or whom we judge ourselves to be–but these qualities aren't always as they appear.

For instance, I've had clients who are very sensitive and empathetic. As a result, they tend to take things personally. They will take on others' problems as their own and procrastinate on essential tasks, either because they worry too much or because they are busy tending to the needs of another.

These sensitive, empathetic qualities can nearly cripple business owners and their business growth when they display as weaknesses. Suppose this individual gets caught up in their fear of being too vulnerable, pleasing everyone, failing, and never being good enough. In that case, they won't take the emotional risks associated with a successful business. That takes a backseat to the fact that they are too busy and exhausted by their emotions to act on these risks.

Another example is the entrepreneur who strives for perfection, so they claim no one can do things right. They pick at every detail to the point of going overboard. Subsequently, this individual engages in self-criticism and frustration because they get nothing of significant value done. The lack of delegation and trust are blinders that keep this entrepreneur from seeing the talents and strengths that others bring to the table.

The flipside to our strengths and weaknesses.

People don't often realize that our weaknesses are often the flip side of our strengths. The very things that hold us back are aspects of a strength that is undervalued or overused. Individuals who are sensitive and empathetic often have the gift of creativity. They can see things that others don't notice. They are curious, so they explore the possibilities missed by others. Creative individuals can diffuse tension and relate well to others. They often make great bosses because of these abilities, and coupled with an innovative mind, they make outstanding entrepreneurs.

PerfectionistPerfectionism, when appearing as a positive quality, allows an individual to pay attention to the smallest detail and see errors and ideas that others won't. They are ambitious and can motivate others. Perfectionists at their best strive to be the best version of themselves and are often envied for their drive and success.

The shadow side of our strengths.

The examples are endless because we all have this “shadow” side of our strengths. When our positive qualities are misdirected or go into overdrive, they shift to the shadow side and become painful and self-defeating.

Imagine a spectrum that is black at one end and white at the other. Our strengths at their best lean toward the white end; our strengths' shadows, or weaknesses, are at the dark end. As you can imagine, many of these personal assets float around somewhere in between the white and black ends of the spectrum, depending on whether we leverage them well or overuse or ignore them.

Understanding this helps us to realize we have choices.

The shadow is not who we are or what defines us. When the shadow takes over, we can flip it around to lean into our strengths and shift our perspective. How do you do that?

Begin by identifying the shadow side of your strengths.

For some, it's easier to identify the flipside of their weaknesses, rather than their strengths. Then try these ideas to nudge your shadows up the spectrum toward being strengths.

Don't hate your shadow.

Your shadow is simply a side of you that you don't see in a helpful, positive light. Resistance, such as frustration or pushing something away, only makes life more challenging. When we allow all aspects of ourselves to be recognized and worked with, we shift from resistance to allowing, which is a much less stressful way of living.

Embrace your strengths!

The shadows that don't serve you have a flip side that makes you an exceptional human being. Focus on those parts of who you are. Journal about what makes you successful (at anything), happy, and healthy.

Celebrate your successes.

We often deny our strengths and make excuses for why we can't be better. Push away the “yeah but” tendencies and celebrate even the most minor success. When I point out a win to some of my clients, they predictably say, “yeah, but (add criticism here). The more you recognize and celebrate, the more you believe in yourself.

Don't let someone steal your internal locus of control.

If you feel happy about a situation, don't let someone else's viewpoint or actions steal your joy. Put your reaction in a box and come back to it later if you must. Your qualities, perseverance, and talents are responsible for your success; no one can take that from you. Don't, for instance, let a reaction from one client affect how you work with the next one. Maintain your confidence.

Live less in the shadow.

When your strengths are in overdrive, and your actions are not productive and helpful, stop to recognize what you're doing. Take a deep breath and ask yourself how to elevate your talent or quality to live in or closer to the white. If you're being overly perfectionistic to the point of generating stress, get real with yourself. What is perfect to you may be flawed to another, so there is no such thing as perfect.

Choose your reactions and actions intentionally.

Make a different choice than being victim to the less productive end of the spectrum (the shadow). When something upsets you, do your best to be optimistic instead of going into an anxious, “what if” response. When the shadow is at work you may get caught up in catastrophizing the situation. Be careful of exaggerating the impact of any problems that arise. Understanding that you can choose your behavior is empowering so put more intention into your thoughts and actions.

B!tch slap anxiety.

Yes, you read that right. Be kind and understanding of feelings like fear and worry. On the flip side, you want to be firm with your anxiety. Anxiety is not a feeling; it's a hard-wired physical reaction to your mind's response to something. Tell your anxiety to take a hike, take a deep breath, and talk to yourself or journal about your concerns and worries. Choose. healthy distraction from your anxiety. Leverage your strengths in every situation.

When a business isn't growing it's almost always because of the entrepreneur's mindset. Learn more about my Bullshift™ group coaching program for micro and solo business owners.

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