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273: Pressure to be Perfect (rebroadcast)

Do you ever feel the pressure to be “perfect” on social media? Learn what to do when that happens, so you can continue building a creative biz that you love at TaraSwiger.com/podcast273

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In this week's rebroadcast we're tackling the pressure to be perfect.

Because of Instagram and Pinterest, I feel like I have to have it all together – I need to take prettier pictures, I need to have the perfect house, I need to only be eating organic greens and homemade cupcakes with handmade banners on them!

Do you know that feeling? Are you feeling pressured by Instagram to pretend like your life is perfect? Today we’re going to talk about this pressure for perfection and at the end of the episode I’m going to share where I’ll be next.

I've been hearing a lot that there is this pressure, from Instagram and Pinterest (and the internet in general) to be perfect, to edit your life perfectly, to have a perfect house and perfect craft and perfect hair.

And when I heard I thought, yeah, that makes sense, I've felt that. There IS that pressure.

Then I was reading an article in New York magazine about Instagram influencers in the fashion industry – how fashion companies are now paying them to wear their goods – which is something going on in every industry and it makes perfect sense – people are paying attention to their phones more than to commercials, so move your commercials to where people pay attention. But what struck me is that the women who follow these fashion influencers, they feel pressure. Pressure to have the newest Gucci shoe, the newest Prada purse. And I reflected that I never feel that pressure. It may be that I live in East TN, but it's also that I don't follow a lot of fashion accounts and I don't demonstrate my own self-identity through high fashion. So it literally never occurs to me to feel any “pressure” to have anything Louis Vuitton.

And I'm betting the same is true for you. From my conversations with you, you're not very likely to feel pressured by these fashion influencers, and like me, you may be aghast and confused that anyone DOES feel that pressure. Like: why does it even matter? Who cares?

But you DO feel pressured by home bloggers or DIY queens or #planneraddicts to have a beautiful clean home or DIY everything or make your planner really pretty.

Why?

This is going to sound harsh, but bear with me, because I'm saying it with love: We feel pressured by these standards because we choose to.

This is a red pill moment – There is no pressure. There is no real pressure. you are creating the pressure by the things you're choosing to pay attention to AND then the comparison program that runs automatically, comparing what you see to your own life.

I'm not saying you don't FEEL legitimate pressure, I'm saying there is no *external* pressure. We are making the pressure inside our own feeds and in our own selves.

If you don't believe me, think of it like this – you are the only person who follows exactly who you follow. NO ONE ELSE follows who you follow. They may follow 4-6 of the same people, and then a bunch of food bloggers. Or internet business dudes who post about taking a private jet to the beach. Or teenagers making duck faces. Or fitness bloggers who post daily workouts. So they are getting a whole bunch of DIFFERENT messages about what Instagram (or a home or a life or a business) “should” be.

And if you still don't believe me – look at people who are successful who you don't follow – do they seem to be following the same rules as the people you've been comparing yourself to? Are they beating themselves up for not looking like Elsie or Emma of @abeautifulmess? Or Stephan West of @westknits? Or @negharfonooni? Or Kristabel of @Iamkristabel? Or Sarah Tasker of @meandorla? or @garyvee? or @galadarling? Or @yespleaseplanning?

And if you are comparing yourself to one of the ones I just mentioned, go look at the other ones – all big accounts, all successful businesses (as far as i know,) and all reallllly different – in content, lifestyle, point of view.

And I can hear you right now: But Tara, if I'm going to operate in this handmade world, or in this knit design world, or build the biz I want to build, this is the world I'm living in, I have to know what's out there, my customers will be comparing, I have to live up to what the other people are doing.

No.

99% of your customers are NOT following all the other accounts you follow. In fact, they are likely following more people they compare themselves to, like Christian moms with 5 kids who find time to write daily devotionals and have sit-down breakfast, or people who color beautiful coloring book pages, or women who compete in fitness competitions, or lesbians who take beautiful nature photography while hiking with their perfect partner. So no, they're not comparing you to the other people like you, they're comparing themselves to the other people like themselves.

And if you wholesale, then yes, your retailers do know what's happening in your industry, but they care far more that you deliver what you promise, on time and that you're easy to work with, than if your house looks perfect and you posted a beautiful shot of dinner.

Now, let's be honest – some pressure isn't coming from your own internal comparison software, some comparison is coming from people in your lives. Maybe your friends talk about their fat thighs, or your mom comments on your kid's clothes or your neighbor jokes that your lawn could use mowing. There is PLENTY of pressure to conform to outside expectations, in our every day life.

So let's not make more for ourselves, ok? Let's not use social media, which can be a place to connect and learn, as a stick to beat ourselves with, ok?

I know, there is an automatic internal computer program that kicks off this comparison trap – you can't even seem to stop it before it's swept you away. So let's look at how to keep it from even running.

Who you follow

If who you follow makes you feel bad about yourself, your life, your home, or your business, stop following them. STOP FOLLOWING THEM. Really, even if it's your best friend or your biggest competitor. You can keep the computer program from running if you don't feed it images

Think of magazines – we all know that reading magazines that only show one kind of beauty, one kind of Ideal Woman, warp our ideas of what's pretty. If all you ever see is skinny 14 year old blonde girls shown in magazines, then that starts to become the “norm” of what beautiful is. And your own internal sense of what's beautiful becomes warped and anyone who doesn't look like that is no longer beautiful.

This points to the STRENGTH of the internet – we can control these images. We can't control what magazines and commercials tell us about beauty or home life or business should look like, but we CAN control what the internet tells us is the “norm”. WE get to decide what's on our internets, by who we follow and what we pay attention to.

So fill up your feed with diversity – diversity of people, of ways of running a handmade business, of content, of ideas. If you're following 50 #planneraddict accounts and you feel bad your planner isn't prettier, STOP. Follow someone like me who writes a scribbled to-do list every day (and gets a lot of stuff done). If you think your house isn't nice enough because you can't afford to buy anything except Target, follow someone who has 10 dogs, follow a food blogger who never shows her house.

When it kicks in, stop it.

So part of this pressure we create in our heads? It's there because we keep feeding it. Not just with who we follow, but with what we KEEP THINKING about it. If you notice your Comparison Software start to run. STOP IT.

You get to choose your next thought. Do you go deeper down the path of flogging your imperfections? Do you fret and spiral?

Or do you choose another thought? It’s HARD to change your thoughts, so change your environment. Stand up. Get off internet, go journal, make a cup of tea. Do something to change something. But don't keep telling yourself: OMG, I have to have blah blah. I have to do blah blah. This isn't as good as so-and-so's. It's totally normal to have those thoughts but what do you do NEXT?

So this is your prescription:

  1. Stop following those you have the hardest time comparing yourself to.
  2. Follow a variety of people doing Instagram in a different way.
  3. Choose another thought!

I wanna hear how you handle this, so come to Instagram and tell me!

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

271: Get over your fear of disapproval (rebroadcast)

Fear of rejection and disappointment are too real when it comes to running a creative biz! In this episode learn all about how to let go of the fear of disappointing people so you can get unfrozen and keep moving forward in your biz. Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast271

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Are you unsure of your next step, because you’re afraid of the reaction you’re going to get? Are you avoiding rejection, because you want to have the approval and acceptance of your customers and audience? Yeah, me too.

In this rebroadcast, covering how to get over your fear of disapproval. It's a great follow up to last week's podcast on how to stop seeking approval in the first place. You can find the original episode here.

Today we’re going to talk even MORE about Rejection – so much fun! Back in episode 171, I suggested you need to get a LOT more rejection in your biz, in order to have more success. And dudes, you really liked that episode! I’ve gotten sooo much feedback about how you needed to hear that, and how you’ve been re-listening, which I totally love!

Let’s dive a little deeper into rejection!

It’s one thing to know you need to get straight-up rejection from a specific gatekeeper – like to get into a show, or get a wholesale account with a shop.

But what about all those times that a fear of rejection from your PEOPLE is holding you back?

Maybe you’re afraid to…

  • Offer a new product
  • Raise your prices
  • Go in a new direction
  • Stop carrying a favorite product
  • Or just do anything at all that someone somewhere might not like?

When we’re afraid of those things, it’s very rarely the actual ACTION we’re afraid of, it’s people’s reactions.

And we’re not afraid of their happy or encouraging reactions, we’re totally paralyzed by…rejection. Rejection from our tribe.

And this totally makes sense. We are social beings that need to be in community in order to survive and thrive. We need to get love and acceptance in order to lead a happy life so it makes total sense to be afraid of losing that.

The problem is, we don’t need the love, approval, and acceptance of EVERYONE in order to survive. And the more we seek that acceptance and approval from others, the more restricted we become in our movements, in our risks.

What’s holding you (and me) back isn't a fear of rejection or failure – it’s a fear that we’ll lose the acceptance we seek.

So when you feel frozen, worrying about other people’s responses, you need to stop and ask: Whose approval (or rejection) am I really afraid of here? And is that helpful or appropriate?

I’m just gonna tell you – getting the approval and acceptance of everyone in your audience? Not possible. Trying to get the approval and acceptance of everyone who comes in contact with your work? Or even everyone who really might buy your work? Not possible.

Not only is it impossible to make everyone happy (which we all already know), it’s really damaging, to both you AND your business.

You: it makes you doubt yourself (and your self-trust is your best asset). It kills your confidence. It holds you back from taking steps you should take.

Your business: it holds your biz back from awesome things that others might not approve of! It makes your biz bland and boring and kills the sparkle that’s going to make HUGE fans out of some people.

Look, I get it.

I don’t want anyone ever to disapprove of me.
I don’t want to get unsubscribes from my email list or podcast.
I don’t want to get judge-y emails telling me I’m wrong or misguided.
I haaaate when people misunderstand me and misinterpret my intentions.

But friends, we’re not going to get anywhere near our dream lives and our dream businesses if we try to avoid that disapproval, if we try to avoid rejection, if we seek to get 100% approval from the whole internet at all times.

Every new step you take in your business is a risk. You’ve got to take those risks to succeed. And above all, you have to trust your own gut and good sense about your next direction. Instead of turning outward for your audience's approval, or your mentor’s approval or annnnnyone else’s approval, tune in to what you know the next right step is, to the action that will lead you where you wanna go.

And then go do it.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

270: Stop Seeking Approval (rebroadcast)

In your creative biz, you want to listen to your customers + audience to give them what they want. But, needing their approval has you frozen or afraid or feeling kinda needy. Learn how to find the balance at TaraSwiger.com/podcast270

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In today's rebroadcast I'm sharing why (and some tips on how) to stop seeking approval so that you can build a great business. You can find the original episode here.

Here’s a dichotomy: You want to listen to your customers and your audience, to give them what they want, to create an awesome business. But yet, needing their approval has you frozen or afraid or feeling kinda needy. How do you balance this?

In the last week of 2017, I did a live video (you can watch it at the show notes for podcast189) about the lessons I learned in 2017. It was very honest, very vulnerable and one of the lessons I shared REALLY resonated with a lot of viewers, so I wanted to explore it deeper with you. The lesson I learned in 2017: I am not here for your approval.

Whoa! How do you feel when I say that? Do you feel defensive? Upset? I’ve found that some people just nod along, “Yeah, duh Tara.” And others go: “WAIT A MINUTE! BUT I’M A CUSTOMER (or listener).”

Your reaction is super useful! Not for me (because this is all about me trying to unhook from your reactions to my work) – but for YOU. How you react to other people needing approval can help you explore how you feel about needing other people’s approval.

So before we go further, stop and think: Do I think I need my audience (or client’s) approval? Do I think I owe them something more than just the product?

Either answer is ok! Write down your answer and just set it aside for now – this may be a lesson you need to learn, or it may not.

One of the things that keeps coming up when I chat about this with y’all is: Yeah, ok, I know I need to not seek outside approval (for my own mental health!)…but: aren’t I supposed to care about making my customers delighted? Isn’t that what you teach, when you talk about Right People and listening to them?

Yes! Exactly! This is exactly what I’ve struggled with over the years. The dichotomy is this: I am here to serve you. And yet to do that sustainably (ie, not get burnt out + to create new, useful stuff that only I can create) I need to not be hooked into your approving (or not approving).

So let’s break this down:

I am here to serve you: When you think about your audience, it’s important that you’re focused on your RIGHT people – the people who truly want and need the thing you offer. So you are NOT here to serve your family members who “don’t get it”. You’re not here to serve the other people who do what you do. And you’re not even here to serve ALL the people who like what you do. For example, ever since I started doing this 8 years ago, I’ve been working with makers who have already STARTED their biz. So if you are a maker who doesn’t know what you wanna do yet – My products and my biz isn’t really built to support you. Can you get a lot out of my podcast? According to you: absolutely! But am I going to offer products for you? Not really!

Recently, I started talking more about mental health and wellness and self-care. If you’re a person who just wants the super-measurable profitability stuff….I’m probably not the person who is going to most serve you. Are you going to enjoy some of my stuff: absolutely! Are you going to be happy with everything I do? Probably not!

When I talk about listening to your audience, it helps to PRIORITIZE people’s feedback.

  1. Your Customers, re: the product they bought. I listen 100% to my customers about the product they purchased. If you’re in the Starship and you want me to create a directory of SS captains (a real request I just got) – I will do it.
  2. Your paying customers re: the next things you make FOR THEM. (Not everything you do!)
  3. The people who follow you and encourage you – this is where it gets tricky. If they aren’t paying for your product, you can ask them what you could change to make it appeal, but you can’t make biz decisions based on them because guess what? They might NEVER buy!

So! It’s possible to listen to your people and YET, not hook your self-worth or your decision making into seeking their approval. HOW?

You make decisions on two levels:

  • Macro: big picture, like the overall direction you’re going, your mission, the TYPE of biz you wanna have.
  • Micro: the daily decisions you make, the way you word your marketing, the topics I cover on the podcast.

So for the Macro: do you

For the Micro: listen in. Write your marketing copy using the words your customers use. Take pictures from the angles they respond to. Post more content on IG that they enjoy! Answer their actual questions on your sales page.

The other way of saying it is in the process of creating and doing something: START WITH YOU. Decide what you want, no matter outside opinion.

THAT is your filter, that is your standards.

When you listen to your audience, filter it through your own decisions for what you wanna do. For example, if you want me to change the macro of my business (for example), not work with doTERRA to share essential oils anymore. Well, that’s a macro decision, so I need to make it. But if you want me to hold a webinar about how to use oils for goal-setting, there you go! That’s a micro – it passes through my filter and is easy for me to do.

And finally, if you’ve made a decision and your audience doesn’t like it: Stop listening. Especially to negative feedback. Often, it doesn’t even need a response. Just delete the email, especially if it’s in any way un-constructive. If it is genuine and they’re trying to be helpful, you can simply say “thank you”. And if they seem to want more from you – like they want you to admit that they’re right and you should do what they say, I have literally replied “I’m not looking for your approval.” I very much wanted to explain my hierarchy of who I listen to…but what’s the point?

But I want to talk about this because I know a lot of you WORRY about it – far more of you worry about it than have actually experienced it. And I want you to know: I have worried about it FAR MORE than I’ve ever experienced it. To prepare for this, I listed out every negative “I wish you wouldn’t do that” email I’ve gotten this year (because you know every one is burned in my memory) and you know how many it was? 4. I added a whole new income stream, one in a biz model that has a negative reputation (because other companies in the industry are predatory)…and I speak to 4-5k people every week and I got 4 negative emails. That’s 1/1000. That’s .1%. Isn’t that crazy? So many of make decisions to avoid conflict with 0.1%

The fact of the matter is – you’re worried about the disapproval you’re never going to receive. It’s holding you back (it’s holding us all back). So this year, in 2018, I want you to shine that light. I want you to make those big decisions, I want you to go in the direction of your dreams. I want you to create a business that delights it’s customers but is not reliant on outside approval, because you trust YOURSELF.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

269: Be Yourself (rebroadcast)

Being yourself isn’t always easy, but it is always possible. Learn how to be yourself even when you’re a nervous wreck at TaraSwiger.com/podcast269

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In today’s rebroadcast I share the biggest lesson of my biggest gig to date – I taught a three day class at CreativeLive, about creating your best marketing plan. I completely forgot to mention how to GET that class, so here’s the link! Oh, and the lesson I learned: How to be myself.

In today's episode, I'll share how the heck I figured out how to Be Myself, and how it totally changed the way I think about things.

How to Be Yourself (even when you're a nervous wreck.)

  1. Get clear on what you love.
  2. Show up and be present.
  3. Decide connection matters.

How are you being yourself in your business (and life?) How are you hiding yourself?

Links mentioned in today's podcast

Be sure to share that you’re listening by using the hashtag #exploreyourenthusiasm on Instagram and follow my Stories and vlog for the most up-to-date info during my hiatus!

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

262: Mindset is Contagious – a conversation with Jay Swiger

You never know who you’re impacting with your creative biz! Listen in to this conversation with my husband about how my business has impacted and inspired him at TaraSwiger.com/podcast262

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How do you impact those around you? How does that actually work? And how does it feel for those who love you? Today I’m having a conversation with my husband Jay about impact, confidence and more!

Episode 258, which came out a few weeks ago, has ended up being SO popular – so many of you are sharing it and talking about it and messaging me about it, it’s making me sooo happy. And it tells me that this way of reframing the sacrifices you make for your dreams as a positive, because it is showing other people what’s possible, it’s inspiring them to dream bigger – we all need to hear that.

I was talking to this about Jay, and through the years he’s told me that by following my dreams, well, it’s changed him. So I asked him if he’d come and talk to y’all about it, give you a different perspective, and to give you another boost of permission that YES, you are having an impact (even if it takes 15 years to see the results).

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

261: 37th Birthday Lessons

"Just Take a deep breath it's gonna be alright." -Tara Swiger TaraSwiger.com/podcast261

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It's my birthday month, and that means it's time to review my year and share the lessons I learned from another year on the earth.

Each year, on my birthday, I share a  bit about my birthday review process. Just like we do at the new year, I look at what was great, what wasn't, and what lessons is my life teaching me?

To do this birthday review, I use the monthly questions found in my book, Map Your Business. The book has these questions every month for 12 months, so you can start whenever, and make reviewing your month (and planning for the next) a regular part of your business (and life!). You can find the book at on Amazon.

At the bottom of this post, I've linked to all the past birthday posts – they go back 10 years – this will be the eleventh! And I gotta tell you, I read back through last year's transcript and it was SO GOOD. I needed to re-hear the lessons I learned last year!

This year, it was epic.  Big big changes in our lives!

The not-so-good stuff

Before I get to the good stuff and lessons, I want to share the negative side of this year. Now, this isn’t actually bad, it’s stuff I chose, but I don’t want this whole episode to sound like everything is perfect. I made sacrifices this year, but they were my choice to live the life I want, so I was happy to make them.

I didn’t travel as much as I have in past years, although I did go to Columbus, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Charleston, and together we went to see my parents in Oregon and Cookeville, TN. We also went to Asheville a lot.

Also, my business didn’t grow as much as it has in the past. That’s because I didn’t work in it as much as I have in the past, and I made some explicit choices to cut back on some things, which I knew would be a short term loss in exchange for a long term gain of time and energy for other projects. You can hear more about how I streamline my business in episode 224.

This year’s good stuff

  • We became parents! I became a mother! No big deal, my world was just completely shattered by a 3 month old, a 2 year old and 6 week old.
  • Finding meds that work for my mental health.
  • Figuring out how to run a business and be a mom.
  • Learning the foster care system, inside and out.

Lessons learned this year

Motherhood + entrepreneurship is no joke.

I know, y’all veteran moms are saying, uh, yeah, duh.

But I’m gonna be totally honest – I knew it would take a lot of time and energy, but I was not prepared for how much of my BRAIN it took over. I mean, we have no warning, so it’s always a little crazy, but I literally could not think my own thoughts for the first 2-3 weeks. It was all baby thoughts, all the time. Thinking of even my own needs, like to shower or to read a book was not even an option.. and so of course the deeper, thinky stuff like my business was just not even accessible to my brain.

Now, that is for a short(ish) time, but even after we’re used to each other and it becomes less of a shock that THERE IS A BABY IN MY HOUSE, I never fully recovered my thinking brain. So that makes dong things like strategic planning, or heck, even writing a podcast REALLY hard.

And so the lesson was: it is more emotionally and mentally intense than I was expecting and also: everything will be ok. It’s ok to not be at 100%. It is OK to feel slightly slow all the time.

I need more grace

One of the things I struggled with most during this transition to motherhood (which is still ongoing, just on pause until we get the next placement!), is being really hard on myself. I have never been a perfectionist, I am always saying “oh, it’s fine. Done is better than perfect.” I’d rather have something done and then fix and upgrade and improve on it than try to perfect it from the start.

So I was totally surprised when I became so hard on myself for everything related to child care (especially with the toddler). I was disappointed I didn’t feed her even more whole foods. I was disappointed I snapped at her. I was frustrated when her nap didn’t happen. I think it’s that I didn’t see that, just like my business, this parenting gig is a progressive thing. You don’t have to get it perfect the first time, you just doing your best and something less than your best because you’re tired or annoyed and it all works together to be fine.

The good news is, I recognized this. I recognized that so much of being a foster parent is out of my control, and I was being really relaxed about not being in control of the system and the big stuff (will she go or stay? How many visits per week?), I was instead trying to exert control over the situation by controlling myself, controlling my parenting, and constantly beating myself up for not doing enough.

So when I recognized it, I talked to other moms. I talked to some of you on Instagram Stories and I talked to moms in real life and I decided to give myself more grace. Grace to be imperfect. Grace to mess up. Grace to even make the wrong decision sometime, knowing that it’ll be ok.

I know I’m not alone in this and I know it’s not at all about parenting – it’s about being nice to yourself vs holding yourself to some impossible standard.

So I’m gonna invite you to give yourself some grace.

My business will survive!

As Jay put it as we were talking about this episode, I learned that  “your business can survive your lowest point, and your highest stress.” Because, seriously, that’s what this year was full of. From having the worst depressive episode last summer, to the stress of having a 2 year old who is a total stranger – I put my business on hold more this year than I ever have. Yes, I streamlined and planned for the first maternity leave (when we got our placement in October)… but right as I was starting to work again, she went home. And then it took me a while to get back in the swing of productivity and we got our 2 year old friend. And it took me over a month to get a handle on any kind of productivity. She stayed 3 months so I got into a good workflow during the days she was out of the house… but then she left. And 2 weeks later we got a baby for a week.

All that to say, one maternity leave is great, but all of the unknown and the emotions, and the wanting to not to commit to anything, because I may have to cancel at the last minute… it’s hard on me and hard on my business.

And yet… my business is resilient. My audience won’t all leave. Actually, most won’t even notice when I go silent for a week or two, as long as my promises are fulfilled (students get what they bought and the podcast keeps dropping each Wednesday morning).

Now, my business is extra-resilient because I set up lots of systems to keep it running (again, I talk about those in episode 224 and teach you how to do it in my workbook at TaraSwiger.com/leave)

But I always had a little bit of doubt, I worried that if I didn’t do X or Y or if I cancelled on someone or didn’t follow through, everything would fall apart. And while it did slow down, it did not fall apart.
I wanna share that with you, because I know a lot of you have the same fear. So just take a deep breath, it’s gonna be alright.

Taking care of myself is everything

This year really challenged me to step up how I treat myself. Emotionally, by giving myself more grace, but also physically, by ya know, actually taking time to shower, to go walk in nature, to diffuse the essential oils I’m craving. I’ve known this for a long time, but when I didn’t really have anyone depending on me to be at my best, I would tell myself that it wasn’t important. Even though I know I’ve had my biggest business growth and had the best mental health in the years that I was running longer races (2013-2015), I told myself it wasn’t worth the time.

But I am working on changing that message, on valuing myself enough to take care of myself. As Jay says “Your entire job and business is based on you being the best Tara you can be. It only survives if YOU are feeling great.”

So although I’d love for us to take care of ourselves simply because we are valuable, I’ll be honest that I had to have another reason to convince me. Knowing the kids in my life deserve my best, and knowing that you and the business deserve my best – has convinced me. (This is classic enneagram 2, I’ll do it to help someone else.)

Because of this lesson, I created a free 5 day Challenge for y’all, along with a workshop. It walks you through 5 days of just doing teeny tiny things to take better care of yourself. And after the challenge is over, I’m sharing my own journey of taking better care, in monthly exclusive letters. You can join at taraswiger.com/takecare

Thanks so much and have another enthusiastic year.

Past Birthday posts

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

259: How to be unapologetic

“Apologizing is keeping you small!” Learn more about how (and why!) to be your unapologetic self at TaraSwiger.com/podcast259

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Are you apologizing for following your dream, for taking the time away from your family + friends, for taking selfies or for following your own path? Are you apologizing out loud “sorry for another post but…” or are you apologizing with your actions and attitude (trying to physically to shrink yourself – sorry for taking up space!). If you wanna move forward with your business or even your life, it’s time to identify your apologies and move to being unapologetically YOURSELF.

I have been thinking and writing about the need to be unapologetic for a very long time. And I have been working on being unapologetic about who I am, for even longer.

Now, before we dive into this week’s episode, I want to share that I have been working on a new e-course about self-care and you can get it, for free, at TaraSwiger.com/takecare. If you’re struggling with confidence, motivation, and focus, it may very well because you need to take care of yourself. The course focuses on my favorite tools for taking care of myself, which in turn helps me manage my mental health, which is the biggest impact on my business. So whether you’re running a business, you’re a new mom (like me!) or you’re just struggling to follow your enthusiasm, check out the new e-course at TaraSwiger.com/takecare

I have been thinking about apologizing for my dreams, for my ambition, for who I am for a looong time. When I started writing about business, I titled the site (for a very brief period of time!) Unapolgetically Wonky.

At the time I said: “I don’t just acknowledge that yeah, we’re all a little wonky, I think it’s imperative to embrace it, to love our wonky bits, to be who we are without apologizing. Unapologetically wonky is a way of being that influences my teaching and creating. Embracing the imperfections in my student’s work and helping them accept it as a natural part of learning.

Avoiding holding up any one standard of awesomeness.”

Friends, what was true in 2010 is even MORE important today. With Instagram perfection, and Facebook humblebragging, and all of the ways we are surrounded with pictures of lives that seem better than ours, it is more important than ever to acknowledge and embrace our own wonkiness, and to move forward unapologetically ourselves.

Quick shout out to the book that got me thinking and talking about this recently: Rachel Hollis’ Girl, Stop Apologizing. I read the intro and immediately sat down to have a convo about it in my Instagram Stories and that inspired this episode. I’m liking the book so far, but I wanted to write this episode before I read any more of it.

What does being unapologetic even mean?

It means not apologizing for really, I mean REALLY wanting something.

It means not apologizing for not wanting what other people want.

It means not apologizing for spending hours working on what lights you up.

It means not apologizing for spending hours not working, for napping, for reading, for snuggling, for watching TV.

It means not apologizing for wanting more. More customers, more money, more house, more friends, more kids, more more more.

It means not apologizing for wanting less. Less waste, less stuff, less debt, less expectations, less work, less inequality, less conflict, less less less.

It means not apologizing for standing your ground, for living by your values, for choosing something that other people aren’t choosing, for parenting the way you want to parent.

It means not apologizing for your body, for the size it is, for the color it is, for what it can do, for what it can’t do, for what it doesn’t want to do, for what it craves, for what turns it on.

It means not apologizing for completely and totally accepting yourself, for loving yourself, for taking care of yourself. And also for not being there yet. For not feeling acceptance yet.

It means not apologizing for loving and accepting others, for creating healthy boundaries, for saying yes when you want to and for saying no when you want to.

It means not apologizing to the world, and not apologizing to yourself, in words, in actions, or in attitudes for who you are and the life you want.

Why? Apologizing is keeping you small.

It keeps you from following your dreams. It makes you feel like you’re not allowed to want what you want. And that means you won’t actually do what it takes to get what you want.

I’ve experience this so often in my own life and business – I want something, but I feel kinda wishy washy for wanting it, because I think either it’s going to inconvenience someone else, or it’s going to be weird…and so I don’t follow through on figuring out how to get it (let alone for doing the work to get it!) until I can feel awesome about it. Until I’m unapologetic about wanting it and for the work it’ll take to get it.

If you’re stuck in not following through on a dream, I want you stop and think: What are you apologizing for? What makes you feel like you shouldn’t want it?

Apologizing for what makes you different, is what keeps your business stuck.

Here’s the crazy thing: the stuff that makes you different? The way you want to live, communicate, make, market – that will be what makes your business stand out. That is what will lead to your business success! If you follow the path others have blazed, if you do what everyone else expects you to do… your business will be boring. If you have a business just like everyone else’s…no one will buy from you. We buy from and keep coming back to businesses  that are different.

And hey, if you’ve been telling yourself (the lie) that your field is already really crowded? That too many other people do it? The solution is not to give up, the solution is to do it your own way. To be different. So whether you sell knitting designs, or handmade products, or someone else’s products, even if you have a direct selling business – yes, hundreds of thousands of people probably sell the same thing  – but none of them can be you. None of them can do it how you do it.

Being apologetic for your own weird, offbeat ways will keep you from seeing the success of being your own weird, offbeat self.

Being in a state of apology is setting a bad example.

Here’s the thing: I want you to accept what you want for YOU, but I know that often we make a change because it’s good for others. So here’s the altruistic reason for not apologizing: it conveys your values. Maybe I’m thinking about impact and examples (which I talked about in the last episode) so much because all my foster babes have been girls, so I’ve been thinking hard about being an example to younger women and girls.

Or maybe it’s because I have woken up to the fact that often  we only believe it’s possible and permissible when we see other people do it. Running a 10k – possible to me only after I saw my college roommate doing it. Being a mom of 4 and running an amazing business – possible and permissible only when I got up close and saw the family life of my friends Liz and Dave.

So when you feel like you have to apologize for taking care of yourself? Or when you apologize for being dedicated to your business? You are telling those around you, both little people and big people, that it is not permissible for them either.

Ok, so now that I’ve convinced you to stop being so apologetic…how do you do it?

  1. Recognize what you’re apologizing for. Maybe you need to listen again and pay closer attention to the examples I give, but I am sure that if you are feeling low confidence about something, or telling yourself that some of your dreams aren’t possible, you are feeling like it’s not quite permissible for you, or you feel apologetic for wanting it.
  2. Ask yourself: what are the beliefs you have about that area? What are the beliefs you have about yourself and who you are supposed to be?
  3. Envision your most badass self, the one who is unapologetic about wanting what she wants. What does she do that you’re not doing? What does she believe that you don’t believe? My favorite thing to do is to write a letter as this Future You (because this unapologetic gal IS a possible Future You) about what you learned and did to make your dreams happen. Or if that’s not your jam, write a list.
  4. Catch yourself (and others, gently) when you start to apologize for something you want. For me it sounds something like: “Sorry, but I really want to…wait, no not sorry. Lemme start over. I would like to X. I would like you to Z.” Here’s the crazy thing. Every single time I’ve done that, the person has said, “That’s awesome! Thanks so much for letting me know!” Because those who love you want to know what you want! They want to know how to support you! And you being honest and straightforward (and not whiny or cranky) allows them to be honest and straightforward about how they can support you and what they don’t want to do.

I hope this helps you live unapologetically. As a reminder, get the new e-course, at TaraSwiger.com/takecare.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

 

254: How to plan in uncertain times

Running and growing a creative business smoothly depends on a fair amount of planning. But how can you plan for your business when something in your life is causing a lot of scheduling uncertainty. Learn more about how I do it, and the tips I have for you at TaraSwiger.com/podcast254

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How can you plan for your business when everything in your life is uncertain? When you’re not sure where you’ll be next week or next month? You may be great at planning normal life, but what about when there’s a family illness, a new baby, a new job, a big move, a divorce, or just the uncertainty of life?

Let’s talk through how to ride these waves of uncertainty.

As you know, I’m in a really uncertain season of my life as a foster parent. Heck, as you listen to this, my whole family may have changed shape (again!).

How can you plan for just running your business or growing your business when everything is so uncertain?

Week to Week

Here are my suggestions:

  1. Make a list of what is the core function of your business and what has to be done to make sales. Ruthlessly cut everything else.
    Remind yourself that this is just for now. For this season. Things will change, you’ll have more certainty and then you can add back in all the not-mission-critical-top-priority stuff.
  2. Each week, look at what’s ahead on your calendar and what you need to do this week on top of the usual, and find the time in your week.
    Go on and schedule the chunks of time for work, in whatever system works for you. Something flexible, like Google calendar or post-its on your paper planner.
    Even if you never wrote down work times in your schedule before, now is the time to do it, because you want to first identify those times when you can work (your freaked-out brain will tell you that you NEVER have time) and then not MISS them. You always want to make sure you’ve got enough time and if you truly don’t, you get to recognize that now, when you’re planning, so you can adjust your expectations.
  3. Change your mindset to value flexibility. Your past focus may have been productivity, so this may be an adjustment. If you’re in a time of uncertainty, something may come up and you’ll need to move the work you had planned. You’re going to be productive if you can be flexible and if you’re not all or nothing about your work times. (This has been a real struggle for me.)
  4. Work when you can, manage expectations, and give yourself credit for getting ANYTHING done.

You’ll notice that this comes down to two skills you have to practice: flexibility and managing expectations. You’ll need to let go of what Past You got done. Embrace the constraints on New You and celebrate what she’s able to do, even in the midst of all this uncertainty.

And lemme tell you, that, for me, was the hardest part. Not comparing Mom Tara with what Past Tara could do. Not just because Past Tara had more time, but because Mom Tara had a lot more on her mind and had a hard time focusing.

Long Term Planning

Now, what about planning long term projects, like applying to craft shows or traveling to events? This is definitely something I’ve struggled a LOT with. Should I plan that trip if I may not be able to go? I skipped out on a trip to Europe, which was paid for except my flight, because I thought we’d have a kid in our home. Well, we did not have a kid in our home and I was in the middle of mourning the loss of our first placement. Should I have planned it anyhow? I’m not sure. I still don’t know if I made the right decision or not, but I’ve decided to just let it go.

Should you apply to that craft show if you may have to stay home?

The truth is, I can’t tell you what you should do.

You need to make your own decision based on your own comfort with risk, canceling and regret.

Take into account:

  • How comfortable you are with having to cancel.
  • How upset you’ll be if it ends up you could have done this event and then didn’t do it.

The fact is, you may need to adjust how comfortable you are with cancelling. For years, I have followed through on every webinar plan I made. If I said I was going live next Wednesday, I’d do it. But the changing foster placements meant that I either had to NEVER plan another webinar, OR I had to just accept that I would plan things and not follow through. Since a free webinar getting cancelled doesn’t hurt anyone, I’m fine with that. But I won’t be selling anything I can’t follow through on, because I’m not going to cancel what you paid for (although I have had to reschedule some things!).

So you have to think through this for yourself. Are you OK with applying to a craft show you need to cancel on? Will you be more upset if you don’t  apply but it ends up you could have gone? These are hard decisions, but just keep in mind: You will be ok no matter what.

I hope this has helped you think through your own plans, and that if you’re not in an uncertain place right now, you can come back to this episode when you are. If you are in an uncertain place right now I just want to tell you that I am proud of you. You are doing a good job. I’m sorry you’re going through this and I believe in you. Your business will be OK.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

252: Get your confidence back

Confidence generates forward momentum and forward momentum generates confidence. But what do you do when you don’t have confidence or momentum? Learn how to get your confidence back in your creative biz at TaraSwiger.com/podcast252

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I’m gonna be honest: For years I have been teaching about confidence, here on the podcast, at conferences. So I was surprised to find: I had totally lost my confidence. Today I’m going to share how I lost it and how I’m getting it back. Hopefully it will help you locate your own confidence.

First: What do I mean by confidence? Let’s define it here, because it’s easy to misunderstand. And I’ll be honest, I meet a lot of women who say they can’t move forward until they’re more confident and in my work, I’ve just found that’s not entirely true. You are probably confident ENOUGH to at least do SOMETHING.

So let’s define it: Confidence, in the terms I’m talking about, is what psychologists call self-efficacy – you have the power to do something. You believe you can do it and affect the outcome.

It’s NOT believing you can do EVERYTHING. You may be confident in your cooking, but not have confidence in your business. You may be confident in your writing, but not in public speaking.

Another thing: Being confident doesn’t mean you feel confident ALWAYS.
It is NOT feeling amazing all the time. Feeling like you can do anything, feeling totally fearless.

For more about what confidence is and isn’t, check out episode 126: What Confidence is and isn’t.

You probably have enough confidence about SOMETHING, to take it and apply it to your business. Even if you don’t feel amazing all the time, you can take the next step.

Here’s the thing: Confidence is a spectrum. You’re not “confident or not confident.” Some days your more confident than others. Your more confident in some areas than others. And depending on life, and business, and the results you’re getting, you may slide around the spectrum.

In my case, I entered adulthood pretty high on the confidence scale – I worked hard, I got good grades, I made stuff happen (like a scholarship and a happy marriage). I went through bouts of self-doubt, but I pretty much never lost my belief that if I REALLY wanted something, I could make it happen. I may be slightly delusional, but this delusion let me take action that made stuff happen.

And here’s the thing: I wasn't confident that everything would be great, I was confident that I would be ok. I was confident that I could try and still be OK. I was talking to a friend with a similar background and a successful business and she said – my definition of OK was very basic. As long as I wasn’t living at home again or in an abusive relationship, I was OK.

That’s what has led me to do everything I’ve ever done in my business – to start selling yarn on Etsy when Etsy was brand new, to quit my dayjob 10 years ago, to start helping other people with their business soon after, to publish two books, to encourage my husband to quit his day job, to start a new business – it all has been based in the core belief that I would be OK. So I may as well try, right?

Then, we were hit with disappointments: infertility (which has been bubbling away in the background for a decade), we weren’t able to buy the comic book shop, I suffered my longest ever bout of depression, we had two kids we LOVED leave our home.

While we had the foster kiddos, I took a step back from work. And when it was time to step back into work, I was plagued by the constant doubt: Can I even do this?

I think a lot of self-doubt came from the period of depression – it sucked away all sense of action, of ability, of efficacy. I physically felt like I couldn’t do anything all day, my brain was foggy and it was very hard to do anything mentally, and emotionally, well I mostly just cried or felt numb. So when I was feeling better and the depression lifted…my sense of self was beat up. The depressed Tara, who didn’t have physical, mental or emotional energy became real to me. I started to believe she was me.

At the same time, I knew she wasn’t. I knew Get-Things-Done, 6 Figure Business Tara was the real me, but when I would dream about plans and goals, I was trying to imagine Depressed Tara doing it and…I couldn’t imagine it.

The basis of my confidence (which had been “I’ll be OK no matter what”) switched to “But what if I can’t do it? What if it doesn’t work out?” That hard part is, I didn’t really know this happening. My first clue was back in September when a business friend said “Oh, I’m sure you’ll be at X goal next year!” and I was like “Maybe, I don’t know” and he was like, “Wait! That is not the Tara I know.” I went back to my room and cried because my friend was right. That is not the Tara I have been.

The next clue was just a few weeks ago, when I was at a conference and the speaker asked us to think about what we wanted to get from the experience, and I realized: I want to feel confident again. I did some journaling and I realized that it’s not that I need a better schedule or a different office, I just need to BELIEVE that things are possible again. That I can work towards my goal and whether I reach or not, I’ll be ok.

The good news: Once I realized it was the problem,  I know how to get it back. I have TAUGHT how to get it back!

I’ve shared all of my story of losing my confidence with you, in hopes that you may see some of yourself in it, that if you are feeling wobbly, you’ll recognize it. Now let’s talk about how to get it back (or get it for the first time).

The first part of this is knowing yourself. If you’ve been paying attention to how you work, what your strengths are, how you work best, you’ll have a better idea of what’s going on, if you paid attention when things were going well. So that’s the first step – build your confidence from who you are. Build it on your strengths. In other words, stop paying attention to who you WISH you were and what you wish you were like. That’s going to keep you in a self-doubt spiral of constant comparison.

How I am doing this: This may sound crazy, but I make a list of my strengths. What am I good at? What do I KNOW I can do?

The next step is to take care of yourself. You’re not going to feel good if you don’t have what you need. Part of this is eating, drinking enough water, sleeping enough, but it’s also filling up your inspiration well. For me this is listening to certain podcasts (I share them in episode 248) and reading books.

Confidence comes from action. DO something every day.

If you’re waiting around to do something until you feel confident, listen to episode 131: How to Take Action, without waiting around for more confidence.

Here’s the good news: you’re already DOING things every day. Really! So write down what you want to do (be easy on yourself!) and be sure you add things that “don't count” to your To Do list. Did you feed your child? Did you feed yourself? Did you get dressed? Brush your hair! Huzzah! You are accomplished!

How I am doing this: I noticed that when I just let myself rest and didn’t do anything (or rather, didn’t mark stuff off a list), I just felt worse. It made me feel like I couldn’t do things, so everything was so much harder to start doing, even after I felt better. (It’s harder to get started than it is to keep going). What I needed was to make myself do one thing, that had a real impact, every day. And most importantly, write it down, so I had the satisfaction of marketing it off. I had fallen so far off of my planning, that I started over with a new planner (You can watch a video about how that’s working for me here).

I started feeling better about my ability to do stuff, but there was still some stuff I wasn’t doing each week, stuff I put off for, seriously, over a month. The answer? An accountability partner with the very same goal and focus. We check in by 10am each day with a list of two things we’re going to do and again by 10pm to say if we’ve done it. Just knowing someone else is waiting to hear if I did it makes all the difference. A friend of mine is super strict about her partners – if you miss a time, or you don’t do what you said you would, you have three strikes. After three strikes, you lose your partner.

Celebrate

A huge part of confidence is remembering that you HAVE done awesome stuff and you WILL do awesome stuff again. Some suggestions for getting in that frame of mind:

  • Practice accepting compliments. Don’t follow-up up a compliment with all the reasons it’s not true.
  • Better yet, remember the compliments – put them in a folder, print them out, heck, someone on Instagram illustrated her compliments.
  • Tell your loved ones – “I need help remembering that I’ve done awesome things. Can you help?”
  • List all the things you've overcome.
  • List all the things you’ve accomplished.
  • Look at these lists as often as you need to!

I hope this helps you move forward in your business! Remember to take care of yourself, take action, and celebrate each tiny step.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

246: How to stop being hard on yourself

We can all be too hard on ourselves. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and it DOESN’T help you build a more successful or sustainable business. Learn more about how to change your negative self talk at TaraSwiger.com/podcast246

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Do you find yourself distracted with how you could have done something better? Or sidetracked thinking about the mistakes you made? Are you just too hard on yourself? Guess what? Me too!

Today I’m going to share how I’ve been working on: NOT being so hard on myself so I can move forward!

Now, most of us want to be better, right? We want to streamline, optimize, and improve all the time. That’s great and useful…but not when it comes with a dose of beating yourself over everything that needs to be improved and optimized. Not if you’re getting so bogged down in what’s “wrong” that you can’t shift into action.

This is on my mind because a  few days ago I posted on Instagram Stories, that I noticed that I am really hard on myself when it comes to basically every parenting interaction. I'm always thinking: Oh, I could have done that better…I should have reacted differently…Ugh, I wish I had stayed calmer.

(What sparked this conversation was how I feel about parenting decisions, but we’re going to talk about all aspects of life, and especially your business, so you don’t need to be a parent to learn something! I’m brand new at being a parent, and I think a lot of what I’m experiencing is how it feels to be brand-new and learning at ANYTHING. It certainly reflects the lessons I was learning as a brand-new businesswoman!)

When I posted on Instagram Stories I got a lot of replies to my question about being hard on myself and I want to talk about them with the whole community, because they represent two different ways to look at the issue.

First, let’s talk about what I mean about “being hard on myself”. What I’m talking about is when something happens or you make a choice and you think: I should have handled that better. I shouldn’t have done X. I should have done Y.

Now, that thought alone isn’t necessarily the problem. The problems come in when there is judgement (I’m bad because I did X), when there is intensity (OMG THAT WAS HORRIBLE) and when these thoughts are frequent (if you can’t move forward because you can’t let go of the “mistakes” you made).

For example, one of the parenting things I thought was a mistake, I could NOT let it go. For the whole day I go over and over the morning in my head: What happened? Why didn't I …? Why didn't I..? I should have…

(By the way, I want to mention that if you have intrusive or looping thoughts, talk to a therapist, you can get help.)

So that’s being hard on yourself, and for me it comes in the framework of my Generalized Anxiety Disorder, where my anxiety-brain runs away with itself.

When I posted about it I got two different kinds of replies:

  • Half the replies said: This is what motherhood is! Get used to always feeling not good enough!
  • And the other half of the replies said: here are some resources for negative self-talk. Whether it's challenging negative thoughts or learning to talk kinder to yourself.

And both of these are interesting because they show different perspectives. One says “this is how it always is” and the other says “you can change this”.

I know that part of what “get used to it” means is, I'm not alone. That this is a part of doing anything new, and it's a part of almost every aspect of a woman's life – this constant sense that you SHOULD be better, that you COULD do better and that it's your job to be the absolute best.

Our world is filled with messages telling us: eat better, manage your time better, improve your hair, eyes, waist, kids behavior. Earn more money. Buy better stuff. Tidy up the stuff you do buy.

I don't think any of us should just accept that we never feel good enough. I think we can accept that there are a lot of messages in the media and on Instagram, Pinterest, and even among friends that tell us NOT to feel good enough. Our world is filled with this message and then we reiterate these messages to ourselves…but I don't want to believe that it has to be like this forever, that I just need to resign myself to this mindset.

Although I know “you’re not alone, this is what it feels like” messages are meant to be encouraging, I just don't want to live like this. It's not sustainable (in this intensity.) Just because the world tells you that you need to be better doesn’t mean you need to tell YOURSELF that you need to be better.

So, I'm moving forward with the belief that it doesn't have to be like this.

Now the second set of responses were: challenge those negative thoughts!

And this was interesting because I was not even recognizing what I'm doing as negative thoughts. It feels more like…hmm, just a running commentary of what could be better. Almost positive like: you could improve it this way! This could be smoother next time! Optimize! Streamline! IMPROVE!

HOWEVER improving and optimizing CAN be helpful…but when the underlying message is “Not good enough! Not good enough!” …that's not helpful or beneficial.

I kept telling myself that these weren't negative thoughts, they were just kind of insistent. Like the messaging of my whole life combined with anxiety leads to insistent, pervasive sense of doom. And then I realized: Wait, if this is anxiety, I know what can help with anxiety: challenging those thoughts and rewriting them. This is known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and studies show that it’s one of the most effective therapies at dealing anxiety and depression.

CBT has this concept of “cognitive distortions,” ways that you’re seeing the situation through a distortion. You recognize the distortion, then rewrite the thought without the distortion.

So I checked to see if this “you should be better at X” fits in with any of the cognitive traps. I used my Moodnotes app because it makes it super simple.

Here are the cognitive distortions that applied:

  • Negative filtering: Only seeing the bad
  • Downplaying positive: dismissing positive qualities by telling yourself they are unimportant or do not count
  • All or nothing thinking: it either went wonderfully or was a failure. You either have a relaxed and happy kid or you're failing at it all.
  • Blaming: Blaming myself for anything that happens, even stuff I can't control.

Do you see how these distortions can apply to your own “hard on yourself” thoughts?

Now, I shared all this in an Instagram Live (follow me so you don’t miss any! I’m @TaraSwiger) and my friend Joeli pointed out something big I had been missing. The thought that needs rewriting isn’t just “you should be better/you’re not enough” but the belief that I even made a mistake to begin with.

I’m assuming (wrongly) that any unwanted outcome (with my child or my business) is because of some mistake I made. The other way to look at this is that it's not a mistake. You can't control all outcomes through your actions alone. For example, maybe if you would have done more IG post about your new product, you would have sold 1 more. But maybe you wouldn't have. You can't assume you know the outcome and then beat yourself up over what you don't know.

The thought the rewrite with CBT: It was a mistake that I X.
The cognitive distortions: Fortune-telling, where you believe you know what would have happened.
A rewritten thought: I don't know that it was a mistake that I X. I can try something different next time.

Another thing that came up while talking about this with friends is…depression. Depression lies. It tells you: You suck. This will never be better. It is your fault it's not going better and there's nothing to be done/you can't fix it. Because you suck.

This is a cognitive distortion. And if you have clinical depression, just rewriting your thoughts might not be enough. You may need an intervention from a specialist. I'm telling you this not because you suck, but so you know: YOU CAN GET HELP FOR THIS. Start by going to your primary care physician, your family doctor, and explain what's going on. They can recommend a therapist or an intervention. If you have a therapist, tell them about this.

More than anything, I want you to know that you are not alone and it won't always be like this. If it's hard and you think it's because you suck, you don't have to just accept that truth. If you feel inundated with messages that tell you you're not enough, you're not alone. You can unsubscribe from or turn off some of those messages. You can start to notice when those messages come at you and challenge them right then. (Studies have found that one of the best ways to shift the negative effect of advertising on girls it to talk about what the advertisement is selling right when you see it. I bet this works on yourself as well. “Oh this ad is telling me that the whites of my eyes need to be whiter? It's coming up with another thing I need to fix about myself. Hmm, maybe the whites of my eyes are not as important as the love I show in my life?”).

If you are hard on yourself, you're not alone. Take a breath. Rewrite the thought.

I think you are doing an AMAZING job in your life. You are enough. I hope you continue your day knowing that you are enough and you get to be enthusiastic about your life and your business.

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