Among all of the challenges that come with being an entrepreneur, this single emotion is the most toxic and harmful to our journey. Its challenge in my own journey is no exception. Tune into to hear how this harmful emotion can prevent you from making progress in your business or life. Identifying and letting go of this emotion is one of the best decisions I have made and I know it will be the same for you.
Tune in to hear:
- My two-step process to overcome the burdening feelings of this emotion
- Why this emotion can keep you frustrated and stagnant in your business or life
- What this has taught me about entrepreneurship, my business and myself
Transcript of Episode
Leah Gervais: Hey visionaries, welcome back to the Your Biggest Vision show. I am your host, Leah and this week’s episode is pretty short and sweet because I think it’s really concise. I don’t want to overcomplicate the concept, but it’s one of the things that I’m most passionate about. And one of the lessons that was the hardest for me personally to learn in my entrepreneurial journey. And that is just identifying the single most harmful emotion or feeling that we as entrepreneurs can get stuck in. And it really will keep you stuck. I don’t want to go into the whole backstory of why I feel like I kind of had to learn this in a crash course type way, but let’s just go ahead and jump the gun here. So the emotion I’m talking about is guilt. And I see this all the time in my clients and I, like I said, had to experience it a lot on my own before I realized how incredibly harmful guilt was.
So by way of brief background, some of you may know that, uh, one of the hardest things that happened to me in my entrepreneurial journey, actually the single hardest thing that happened to me was I suddenly lost my dad in March of 2018 and I’ve done lots of episodes about grief and I’ll probably share more in the future because it’s definitely something I’m continuing to learn and evolve with. It’s not over ever, but this episode is not about grief. The point here is that when my dad passed away, one of the ways that his death manifested in my own life and in my own experience was through a lot of guilt. And I know that guilt is actually relatively common for people that are going through a grief or bereavement. Guilt of not having done something before the person had passed away. Guilt of maybe not having been there when the person passed away. Guilt of things that you wish you had or hadn’t said. Um, all of it is very common.
So the guilt part wasn’t particularly unusual, but for me the guilt really came up with feeling like it came up in a sense of worthiness. Maybe something about me didn’t deserve to have my dad and that’s why he left. And now looking back I can see that all that was was my brain was trying to make sense of his absence and make sense of the loss and put a reasoning to the fact that I was never going to see him again. Logically, it made no sense. Obviously it made no sense because you don’t go one day from talking to, you know the person you love more than anyone, your parents, your family member, and then the next day having to somehow cognitively accept that you’ll never see them again.
Your brain can’t help but want to make some sort of sense of it or that’s how it happened for me anyway. So my instinct for some reason was to blame myself or make it somehow about me. And that got even darker from there because then not only did I feel a sense of guilt or a sense of shame or involvement, but then I also felt a sense of narcissism or selfishness because I was essentially making his passing about me and not about him and when he needed to leave. So again, I know that even now I kind of got more into this than I intended to, but I am sharing this to illustrate where a lot of the guilt I dealt with came from while building my business and during those months after he passed, several months, in the wave of so much shock, but with all my efforts to try to continue building my business, this guilt started popping up in every way you could think of.
I mean, it would just be the littlest thing and I would feel guilty about it. I would feel guilty if I couldn’t make it to the gym one day. I would feel guilty if I didn’t make enough money. I would feel guilty if I did charge money because I thought, what if the other person can’t pay for it? It was like I couldn’t do anything right. And all of the sudden my life was just littered with guilt and feelings of inadequacy and a lack of confidence. And at first, the way I thought through this was just by continuing to take action anyway, even though I was experiencing the guilt. And that’s usually my advice for anyone who’s dealing with a difficult emotion or any type of fear, is just continue taking the action because you’ll prove to yourself that whatever you are feeling in a negative sense is, is all in your head.
It’s not really the case. And so that’s what worked for me at first is I just kind of continued to move forward. I tried to talk to friends and family about what I was experiencing, but the truth is I felt very lonely as I know a lot of people do when you’re going through grief. So it was a very challenging time and I honestly think it took nearly eight months for me to kind of feel that sense of self worth again and feel the sense of confidence again and no longer blame myself, no longer make myself wrong for everything that I did. Um, and it was, it was a very painful experience. But what I learned during that time, just a second, I am going to take a sip of water?
What I learned during that time and what I really infused with my own clients now is that never could I have looked back and said that there was an accomplishment that I had or a moment of happiness or a moment of health. I mean, I’m not even just talking about success or business here. There was never a moment that I was particularly proud of that came from a place of guilt. It never helped. It didn’t help me when I was sad. It didn’t help me when I was happy. It didn’t help me when I messed up and it didn’t help me when I did something right. It just harmed me. Now I want to be clear in saying that I do not think that this lesson gives me or anyone else permission to not learn from your mistakes, to not reflect on things you maybe could have done better.And to be you know, aware of why you might have those, those feelings of guilt coming up because they can afford inform why you’re feeling them and maybe things that you as a person need or want to improve.
So it’s not that you get a free pass to do whatever you want, but it is meaning that you can release guilt, you feel all the time, as much as possible. And so I see this a lot in my entrepreneurs in my mastermind because a lot of them are new at being full time self-employed. You know, maybe they left their nine to five job and for example, they will maybe take a nap for an hour on the couch in the middle of the day instead of working. And then this goes into some sort of spiral where they’re thinking, Oh my gosh, well I should have been working. I feel guilty that I wasn’t working.
And I’m not going to reach my income goal because of it. If I was still at a nine to five, I’d never would’ve been able to take a nap. And it can kind of really go into a spiral and create this reasoning around why you aren’t good enough or why you’re not going to reach your goals. And this is a pretty clear danger here. And I think it should be pretty obvious why this is flawed thinking. Because as entrepreneurs, yes, you can take a nap on the couch for an hour because most of us work nights, weekends, mornings, middle of the night, crazy hours, which no one else can even imagine. Um, and that’s still not really the point here. It’s not like a competition. But the point is we don’t need to be in that frame of mind of the nine to five life because we’re not at a nine to five.
So it’s about doing what makes sense for you and for your business. Nonetheless, I have compassion for how it takes to switch out of those moments and how it takes to switch out of that way of thinking. But in the meantime, guilt is often what comes up and I’ve never had a client say, Oh, I felt guilty about the nap I took today. And so then I really wrote an excellent sales email, or then I had a great coaching call, or then I thought of a new idea. No, it puts you in a downward downward spiral and it’s the same thing for guilt and really any way it shows up in your life. Another good example is you don’t go to the gym, you’re just, you slept poorly or tired. You just don’t make it to the gym for whatever reason. Yes, we all want to say that we go to the gym as much as we tell ourselves we will.
But if you don’t and you have that one day, is feeling guilty about that really going to be helpful? No, of course not. Because then you’re going to feel bad about yourself and you’re not going to want to do much. Then you’re going to feel even more tired and more lazy if you don’t go to the gym one day, own it and move on. And so I think that all of this is to say that that’s my number one piece of advice is it sounds easy… It is easier said than done, but this concept of just owning it. So what I had to start doing was getting in this pattern of every decision I made. Just saying I own that decision and move on and it could be okay. I didn’t, I decided not to go to the gym today. What was it in my life that made me not want to go to the gym?
Did I not sleep enough last night? Did I overwork myself today and put too much on my to do list and I just feel really sore and maybe I could have taken an Epsom salt bath last night to avoid the soreness. Like if you can identify the reason that you didn’t do or that you did do something that you are now feeling guilty about, that’s helpful. But either way, it’s about identifying it if possible, owning your decision, saying, you know what, I own not going to the gym today. I’m going to get more done because I have a little more extra time and I’m going to stretch so that I don’t feel sore and I own that decision and then I move on because this feeling of guilt will really, really plague you. It will never propel you forward. And I see it way too often and I see it even more in women.
So that’s kind of my two step process is identify why you made the decision you did, own the decision and keep going and I don’t care what the decision is, I don’t care if you decided to, you know, do something a lot more dramatic than skipping the gym or then taking a nap on the couch. Maybe your decision was to fire someone or fire a client or you know, whatever the case may be. And then you start second guessing yourself and wondering, well, I feel kind of guilty because they have, they have bills or they really wanted to do this and did I kind of ruin that for them? You have to trust yourself and you have to own the decision you made and move on. Identify with maybe why you feel guilty and then move on.
So in preparing for this episode, I found an article that had a few more, uh, tangible steps around how to move out of guilt. So I wanted to share those with you just because perhaps my two-step, um, identify the guilt and then move on, own it and move on is not so simple for everyone. So I wanted to share these with you. These are from goal cast. Um, and let’s go ahead and dive in.
So first things first is you are not your decisions. So you can’t identify yourself based on something you’ve done. You are inherently worthy, um, and regardless of the decisions or mistakes you’ve made, that doesn’t take away from who you are, what you’re capable of and your worthiness. So yes, you need to take responsibility for your actions 100%. That’s where my owning it method comes in, you know, own it and say, yeah, I made that decision. It can even say, yeah, I messed up. I own that. I should have done this differently, but I’m going to move on now because you making a dumb decision doesn’t make you a dumb person. You making a mistake doesn’t make you a mistake. You are not every single action that you do.
Okay. The next thing that they mentioned is just simple self-forgiveness and really being able to forgive yourself for decisions. This actually makes us a stronger person. And in those moments of guilt, we can think that if we are forgiving ourselves, then we’re not punishing ourselves enough or we’re not aware of our bad decisions or whatever the case may be. And just none of that’s true for giving yourself actually makes you a stronger person because you are more to forgive others and really shift out of this guilt ridden thinking and feeling guilty will lead you to do more things that will make you feel guilty. It’s a really slippery slope. So I practice self forgiveness.
The third thing is just to simply apologize if you messed up because you fired someone if you messed up because you blew off a friend or whatever the case may be, don’t be afraid to just apologize to them that you’re, you’re human. They know you’re human, they love you for being human, and then you can move on. Um, but the important thing is just paying attention to what will help you move on. And then the final point I want to make on this, this is not from this article, but the final point is that you know, the more you own it, the more you let go of guilt, the more you let go of shame, the more you, the last you regret your decisions, the stronger muscle you build in self-trust, self-reliance, knowing that whatever decision you make, you can either make a better decision or you can own the decision you’ve made.
And self-trust is completely imperative if you want to be successful as an entrepreneur. It’s how you practice listening to your intuition. It’s how you build your own unique vision and business. It’s how you know when to move forward. And this is an excellent way to start practicing it. So that is my kind of pep talk today. Let go of guilt. It will never, ever help you. The best way to do this is to identify what made you feel guilty. Try to learn from it. Own your decision, and move on. Know that this makes you a more forgiving person. Know that this makes you a more disciplined person, and know that this braille builds your self trust dramatically. All of which are hugely helpful traits for successful entrepreneurs. All right, you guys, I hope this was helpful. DM me on Instagram if you love it and I’ll see you guys later. This is to your biggest vision!
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