by Jennifer Kennett, MA, MBA of Abundant Business Coaching
Whether we call it the gremlin, the internal voice, or the itty bitty critic committee, every single one of us has a lunatic in our head. He or she grew out of all the messages we received from infancy from our parents and others around us.
The Lunatic shows up in any situation where we feel uncertain, insecure and out of our comfort zone.
For the entrepreneur, the moment we decide to work for ourselves, the Lunatic takes it upon herself to assume the role of boss because there is no way she is ready to let us manage for ourselves – it’s not safe!
As a result, we have left a boss we may or may not have liked and suddenly we are working for the most critical micro-manager who we can NEVER GET AWAY FROM.
Becoming successful as a business owner means we need to get serious about stepping up our inner game and learn to re-negotiate our relationship with the lunatic. Make no mistake – ignoring her is just not an option.
Managing the Lunatic requires understanding two basic principles which on the surface feel contradictory. First, you radically and unequivocally accept yourself for who you are right now, and second, in order to reach your goals, you need to change.
Maintaining this stance is a great place to start engaging with the Lunatic in your head. Because it’s true – YOU are AWESOME AND YOU NEED TO CHANGE.
As Jen Sincerno, author of You are a Badass says, “If you want to live a life you have never lived, you have to do things you have never done.”
So how do we manage the lunatic in our head? The first step involves understanding why she exists.
The lunatic exists to PROTECT YOU.
She wants to make sure you succeed.
Her intentions are good, but are all rooted in fear.
And she has serious control issues.
When you are in your comfort zone, the Lunatic mostly acts as an overzealous reminder system. She thinks it’s her job to stay on top of EVERYTHING that needs to get done.
The Lunatic is constantly thinking, “Is the business growing, do you have enough clients, are you doing the right marketing, are you doing ENOUGH?”
And the slightest sign of hesitation or uncertainty, she steps up her game and gets LOUDER.
The second step to managing the Lunatic is noticing her.
And interestingly enough, when you start to notice her, you are taking the first step to also recognizing that you are not the Lunatic. She is only one part of you.
More importantly, you can CHOOSE to pay attention to the Lunatic’s frantic fear messages or not.
A great exercise in managing the Lunatic involves listing all the things you are proud of in yourself. Think of it as a self-gratitude list.
You can use this gratitude list to help transform your limiting beliefs. Unhooking yourself from subconscious limiting beliefs requires you to develop personalized positive affirmations which you repeat daily, particularly in the face of the Lunatic’s criticisms.
The third step is going to feel counter-intuitive: lean in to what the Lunatic is saying.
Remember the paradox I started with? Accept that you are perfect as you are AND that you need to change? You guessed it. Step 2 is about accepting your inherent value, and step 3 is about exploring how you need to change.
When you tune into the Lunatic’s commentary, you will notice a few things:
The variety of nasty comments will decrease as soon as you start paying attention to them. The Lunatic is like a classic mean girl – she’ll make snide comments when she thinks you are not directly listening, but she loses steam when she is directly confronted. Take the time to really invite her to list all the things she has been hounding you about.
And, some of what she has to say may need to be heard.
For each criticism she levels at you, ask yourself “Is this true/ accurate/ something I can learn from?”
If no (i.e. “See – you’re such a fraud! No one wants to work with you”), this is likely rooted in a limiting belief that you need to actively work to remove from your life as it is no longer serving you.
If yes – how can you learn from it? I have noticed that my Lunatic shows up more now when I am avoiding a task that I either don’t like or that I don’t feel particularly competent at.
When I acknowledge to my Lunatic that I am avoiding something, I also acknowledge that her intention is to be helpful. Suddenly my lunatic has stopped being a bully and has become my executive assistant, helping me prioritize my necessary but unpleasant tasks.
I have found that asking your Lunatic to become the skeptic is another way to re-negotiate your relationship with her.
For example, when you hear your Lunatic say “That will NEVER work,” ask her to change it to “How could you make this work?” The answer might be “I don’t know–YET.”
Adding YET to any absolute moves you from a fixed, fear-based mindset and puts you into a growth mindset. And it really does help calm the Lunatic.
Your Lunatic can become a powerful ally in getting your priorities straight, identifying obstacles, and overcoming your subconscious limiting beliefs. You just need to let her in a little, and be clear about how she is allowed to show up. Changing your relationship with the Lunatic in your head is a transformative experience that will allow you to become more clear about your purpose as an entrepreneur, and in turn, achieve greater success in all that you do.
To learn more about Jennifer and her work as a Transformational Business Coach, visit www.abundantbusinesscoaching.com.
Images from artofthemix.org, kickaction.ca, and russellwhite.com