Last week, I woke up at 5 a.m. having a real anxiety attack. I couldn’t remember what I had dreamt about, and had no idea why I woke up in that state. My first thought: It’s not good for my body to be feeling such stress. My second thought: What steps can I take to get myself “under control"?
After dramatically waking up my husband from his deep sleep, surmising that I was having a heart attack, I decided to let him sleep and see if some deep breathing and a short walk would help. I grabbed my headphones and cued up Audible with my go-to voice for when I’m not feeling in an optimal frame of mind: the illuminous Louise Hay. Her gentle tone is more soothing than a hot cup of tea. I started walking in the darkness, in my pajamas no less, clenching my phone and absorbing the sweet words of wisdom from “You Can Heal Your Life.” Things began to melt.
This isn’t the first time that I’ve experienced such an episode. Normally, anxiety is a dull discomfort that lulls in the background, something I can mostly tune out. However, true panic attacks have cropped up every now and again. After a break-up, before taking the SATs, when I graduated college. The common denominator being that they usually present themselves at a time of great change. My thoughts began to race... What big, life-altering change am I going through now??
A Strategic Business Meltdown
As I continued walking and breathing, I got my first clue from good ol’ Louise. I often visit her books when I’m feeling blue or need a little self-esteem boost. But on this early-hour occasion, the universe was conspiring to teach me a greater lesson. The chapter I happened to tap into was titled “Resistance to Change.” It was a sign.
Just the night before I had uncovered some pretty interesting and eye-opening insights about myself and my business. After taking the Wealth Dynamics Test, I was reviewing my profile status as a Creator and began to realize that I had been doing everything wrong in my previous business. I had known that the Agency Model I working in didn’t suit me. I had even recognized exactly how to extract my greatest value for clients—which is now the Sales & Marketing Accelerator Program that I lead. However, while reviewing my profile everything I had been feeling and thinking for over the past year had suddenly been validated.
I’m not crazy after all!
I mentioned I learned something about myself—so, what had been my problem? While running my agency, I had put myself into roles that I didn’t particularly fit into. I was so obsessed with being an expert on every aspect of my business that I spent a fair amount of time studying and getting certified in things I didn’t even enjoy. I also became resistant to building out a proper team to support me in the areas where I am weak. A few bad experiences had made feel fearful of trusting others, and that I had to do everything myself.
As a result, I had created a very complicated business model and an impossible amount of work for myself. And forget about scalability.
I realized that I needed to truly build my business from my strengths and expertise—and to lean on others when, where and how my natural abilities didn’t align.
Things began to click and organize themselves in my head in a way they never had before.
So why the panic attack?
Body in Revolt
I believe that my body freaked out because reality and my self-revelations were finally catching up with each other. After over a year of deep self-work, everything started to make sense. Things were changing. My path became much clearer and my subconscious mind didn’t like that one bit. Gorilla brain kicked in, the part of us that is ingrained in habits and beliefs. A part of us so strong that it will do anything to maintain the status quo:
“Just eat the pizza, it’s yummy! Salad is for losers.”
“Waking up early is crazy—you’re a night person.”
“The gym can wait, I’ll do it later.”
We’re all prone to that primitive inner voice that pulls us back to what’s simpler or more reassuring. But my theory is that it is even worse for entrepreneurs because we need to stay so focused on our tasks and our goals, moving ourselves and often a team forward. It’s never easy to keep going when you have that false friend whispering in your ear, but you just have to push through.
How to Get Through
There is no fancy formula for managing anxiety as an entrepreneur (or anyone), but there are ways to reimagine it. First, as the old saying goes, accept change as a constant. Second, acknowledge that part of us will always struggles with that resistant inner voice feeding our fears and doubts. Third, force yourself through these moments by any means necessary. Listen closely to your body and do what works best for you, whether it’s spending time alone in your thoughts through meditation, getting it all down in writing, powerwalking around your neighborhood in pajamas, or some other way to expressing yourself.
When your anxiety arrives, which it inevitably will, greet it kindly and say, “Thank you for trying to take care of me and keep me safe, but I got this.” And if you need an extra bit of support, then go find Louise Hay and let her remind you of this fact: All is well in your world.