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What would it mean to root into trust in your business?
An experiment I tried + monthly favourites
Last month, I set myself an experiment. Whenever I’d start worrying—about anything—I’d consciously try to redirect my mind to trust instead. And I would offer myself kindness and forgiveness for worrying, especially when I was worrying about things I’d worried about so often that I was sick of myself.
The results of this experiment surprised me hugely. It didn’t stop me from worrying—I’m probably too good at it for that—but it’s created a spaciousness and gentleness where I previously felt cramped and stressed. It also changed how I approach my business, as I’ll share in this post.
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If you’ve been following along with me for a while, you’ll know that trust is a big topic for me. But whereas earlier I focused mainly on trusting myself, my decisions and capabilities, this experiment was all about trusting outcomes. About trying to tap into trust even if things are out of my control—which is so hard to do.
I don’t think that the mere practice of rooting into trust is magic. It’s not going to lead to all the sales, all the profit, all the success. I don’t believe that if you believe something enough it will come true. But rooting into trust does make a subtle difference to how we feel in our businesses. To how we move through our days.
I came up with the experiment one day in late February as I was getting out of the shower. As happens so often, I’d been mulling over things while showering and I’d been beating myself up about a situation at my part-time teaching job. The details don’t matter (and are boring, really), but it was something that directly affected the work that I do there and the joy I get out of it. It was also a situation in which I felt deeply powerless. Initially, I’d felt quite calm about the whole thing but now, a few weeks later, I couldn’t let it go. I kept going through conversations and scenarios in my mind. And I was thoroughly sick of thinking about it at all, but I didn’t seem to be able to stop (sound familiar?). I told myself to just let it go and then got annoyed when I was unable to.
Then it hit me: I was unable to let it go because I was being so unkind to myself. I was not allowing myself to feel upset—only telling myself to buckle up and move past it.
On a whim, I told myself “Yes, this situation is hard and it’s normal for you to struggle”. A weight was suddenly lifted from my shoulders. It sounds so simple, but offering myself that kindness offered me a way out of the obsessing. It didn’t fix the larger situation, but it did allow me to be gentler around it.
I also practised what my partner J. has called “fantasising in the right direction”. Years ago he listened to my list of worries and observed that this worrying was essentially “fantasising in the wrong direction”—unlike daydreaming in the positive direction.
I can imagine that for some of you all of this might sound flippant or simplistic. I know that for many of us, worrying is so ingrained in us that we often feel imprisoned by it. Over a decade ago, I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder and if you’d told me in those darkest moments that I just had to “fantasise in the right direction” or offer myself kindness I probably would have gotten really angry.
These days, anxiety of the clinical variety is not something I struggle with. In those non-clinical moments, when we’re not (yet) so entrenched in something, I believe that we can experiment with offering ourselves kindness and gentleness. With trying to imagine scenarios that are not as disastrous as our worrying minds depict them. And I believe that this shift can make a difference.
How I’m rooting into trust in my business
Apart from offering myself kindness and gentleness when I do worry, reframing future scenarios from a place of trust has made the biggest difference on my business. Not necessarily in terms of what’s happening in my business, but in how I feel about and in it.
For this realisation I need to give a lot of credit to Katie Morwenna. In one of her first newsletters of 2023, she wrote about self-confidence and formulating some affirmations for herself to activate that feeling of self-confidence. I really like that idea but also have a highly cynical mind that has for a long time tended to see the negative rather than positive—to worry rather than to imagine happy outcomes.
So I replied to Katie asking how she was able to work with those affirmations without succumbing to the inner critic saying “how do you know things will work out?! You don’t!”. What she replied was incredibly obvious, I suppose, but an eye-opener to me. She said, “I don’t know whether things will work out, but I also don’t know that they won’t”.
I had never seen it like that. Of course we don’t know for sure that something will work out. But we also don’t know that it won’t work out.
So that’s what I’ve been experimenting with. Whenever I fall into feelings of not doing enough or feeling scarcity, I list out positive outcomes. I’ve been doing this in my journal and although I’ve gotten to like this exercise, it still feels a bit artificial as well. But I remind myself that the list of disasters (”You will never meet your financial goals!”, “No one will ever book a call again!”, “You don’t have enough time and energy!” etc.) is just as evidence-based as the list of positive outcomes.
Most importantly, imagining certain outcomes or hitting certain milestones in my business makes me feel excited and strong—rather than cramped and stressed. It also costs me a lot less mental energy.
From a mid-March journal entry:
I will make or surpass my financial goal for my business this year. I will grow my Substack to at least 100 paid subscribers. I will attract clients that are lovely, interesting and inspiring people. I will be paid for writing. I will be interviewed on podcasts with many listeners and reach new audiences. I will feel spacious and happy.
* I do have a specific financial goal that I put on this list. Right now, though, this list already feels quite vulnerable so I’m leaving that goal off for the time being. I am planning a post for later this month, exclusive to paid subscribers, in which I will share my business goals for this year in detail, including financial goals, behind the intimacy of a paywall.
All of this is a practice.
I had an aha-moment that day in the shower, but that doesn’t mean that offering myself kindness or gentleness has become second nature to me yet. But it’s a practice that I like enough to keep going with it. It’s just an infinitely more pleasant way of moving through the world.
Take a moment to think or journal about these questions:
In which situations do you beat yourself up for worrying or falling into repetitive thought patterns? Where can you offer yourself kindness or gentleness? Try a phrase like “This is a hard situation and it is normal to feel this way”.
In which situations, especially in your business, do you tend to imagine negative outcomes? What would be the opposite of those outcomes? For instance, rather than thinking “No one will ever buy from me again”, consciously imagine the opposite (and put it into words). For example, “I will sell my products this year. Customers will get in touch about commissions and bespoke products. I will make my financial goal of [X] this year”.
Do you ever find yourself caught in negative thought patterns around your business as well? How does offering yourself kindness and rooting into trust feel? What would you say to yourself if you’d fantasise in the right direction?
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a book | I loved I Have Some Questions For You: it’s a perfect blend of an interesting first-person narrator, some literary crime, a really strong narrative arc with reflections on womanhood thrown in (affiliate link).
a trip | J and I spent a long weekend in Berlin and it was blissful to wander around, discover new places, rediscover old ones and just be away from the ‘real’ world for a few days.
the garden | the weather has finally become sunnier and even though it’s still quite cold I can’t stop thinking about my plans for the garden. I love spending even just 30 minutes weeding or pruning, and am only barely able to stop myself from digging up the front lawn right this minute (I will eventually though).
What’s on your lists of favourites this month? What did you read, see, hear, drink, eat, observe that made your day?
Things I wrote over the past month:
How do you feel about money in your business (join the discussion in this thread);
This month I’ve supported clients with plans for new income streams, brainstormed ways of working with their energy and made a plans for restarting their newsletter list.
I’d love to support you to do this and much more too: to create a business away from the norm that supports all parts of your humanness, whether that means starting or building a business alongside a family, another job, (chronic) illness or any other needs and desires.
There is a slower, gentler and more profitable way of running a business, and I’m here to help you achieve it.
I am off back into the garden to soak up some sunshine, watch the ladybugs sunning themselves and dream up a plan for our front garden.
If you’re a paid subscriber, I’ll be back in your inbox soon with a post on the financial and business goals I set for myself this year.
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Have a restful, calm and nourishing week. x
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