Lessons, musings and advice from the author of ‘The Life I Won’
Have you ever said this to yourself?
Do you know how many times I have heard one of my client’s say this over the last couple of years?
It is one of those phrases that comes out automatically when things aren’t going well. Did you ever hear your mother say ‘I don’t know why I even bother’ as she clocks the mess you made in her newly cleaned living room?
It is actually a very common phrase with a very deep-rooted meaning.
The roots are planted in fear.
Your business isn’t making enough money yet – I don’t know why I even bother?
You are showing up every day on social media and its tumbleweed – I don’t know why I even bother?
You have created an amazing body of paintings and posted photos everywhere, but nobody is buying – why am I even bothering?
The problem with this phrase is that it starts you on a downward spiral of self-talk. The kind of self-talk that sabotages businesses, relationships, self-worth, and much more.
So, when you hear yourself or someone else saying this, please take it seriously and act because you or the person you care about are starting to form the arguments for giving up.
Acknowledge that you have used the phrase or something similar: I work so hard and for what? It feels like I am wading through mud. What is the point of working all these hours for no return? There are so many examples I could give you and I am sure you are nodding at at least one of these. Part of the problem is that as a creative you and your work are one and the same. You take it personally when people don’t buy what you make or do, it feels like a personal shun and this makes you want to retreat.
Stopping and breathing seems incredibly simple, but it works.
It allows us to take time and centre ourselves, to take back some power from the negative feelings we are experiencing and to allow them to pass.
What usually follows ‘why am I even bothering’ tends to be a series of follow-on statements such as ‘that’s it I have had enough’, ‘what’s the point’, ‘I can’t take this anymore’ etc. These ‘cascade comments’ are derived specifically from your deepest fear of failure, and they are your brain’s hard wired protection function. Your brain looks for similar instances in the past where you have done something to make you feel better. If you have constantly given up on your dreams or tried lots of businesses and failed, the brain can’t differentiate between failure or success, just the path of least resistance. Brain chooses the easiest way to stop the pain you are feeling right now. It’s like an emotional life jacket saying it’s OK to give up and comfort yourself.
Well, it’s NOT!
If you give up all the time or take the easy route instead of feeling the fear and doing it anyway, then you are constantly going to remain where you are right now. Recognise that very first comment and stop it there before you talk yourself into something you may regret.
When this language seeps in it will undoubtedly end up spreading to other areas of your life and business. It is like treading water. Ignoring all the little niggles that are bothering you, the collaboration with someone where you don’t think they are pulling their weight, but you ignore it because you don’t want a confrontation. That person who keeps messaging you and demanding your time, but rather than say no you keep engaging with them. You are people pleasing and minimising your own needs and you feel like running away from that too. These are stress responses, and they are there when you have moved past the amount of stress you can tolerate. Your brain is avoiding anything that can cause you upset or additional stress.
Deal with one small thing at a time, chipping away and you will start to feel better about yourself and the situation.
This behaviour is the precursor to the ‘why am I even bothering’ response. Have you ever justified stress with comments such as ‘well, I have survived worse’ or ‘this is nothing compared to…’? Then it’s off to the job you hate or the toxic relationship as if there is nothing wrong. When you do this, you will inevitably take your anger and frustration out on something else, the kids, the business you really want to build etc. But you are directing the frustration in the wrong place because that is so much easier than dealing with the real issue. You need to be present and feel the feelings so that you can identify the source. Only by dealing with the source and identifying the different ‘sizes’ of stress can you make progress.
Sometimes when you are trying to identify the causes of stress in your life you can find it difficult to nail the source. You have become acclimated to the situation, and you are asking ‘is it them or is it me’? Fear can be confusing, we are naturally drawn to put the blame onto others or external factors, ‘the market isn’t great now for my product’ or ‘Sophie is lucky she has a wealthy husband, I don’t have that support’, we find reasons and excuses.
Here is your wake-up call, if you can’t figure out if it’s you or them then it’s likely to be both! Start by looking at yourself, learn to listen to yourself, keep a feelings journal and identify if you carry some of the responsibility.
It is only when we learn to face fear, identify its source, and take ownership of our own responses that it is possible to stop the negative speak and flip the script. Reframing your thinking and accepting that you may be a part of the problems you are experiencing can feel incredibly empowering.
You have it in you to be the person who does this, never underestimate your power.
If you need help, reach out to someone.