“What do you want to get up and do every day?” Isn’t that the question that inspired you to create your solopreneur business? What I didn’t know but soon found out is that solopreneurship is a rollercoaster ride, with smooth bits followed by stomach-churning, wild free-fall bits.
What I love to get up and do every day is to create transformational learning experiences that empower introverts, to do strategy coaching, and to create community. Those are my superpowers. And when I’m doing those things, I’m in my happy place. Those are the “smooth rides” on the rollercoaster.
But in the day-to-day reality of working in my business, I come up against all kinds of obstacles that cause anxiety, mostly from feelings of overwhelm.
And because of my introvert brain wiring, I don’t do anxiety well. If I were an extrovert, my brain would interpret the same situation as “excitement” and release all kinds of brain neurochemicals to make me feel eager to jump into action and overcome the challenges.
But since I’m introverted, and my brain wiring makes me most competent when I’m calm and collected, I’ve had to strategize ways to deal with the “wild ride” parts of the solopreneurship rollercoaster.
The thing is, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and fall into freakout mode, especially in the beginning of setting up a business, but also every time you scale up your business to the next level. Your to-do list is longer than your arm, and some of the items involve the dreaded “learning curve.”
What happens when we’re in overwhelm is that the limbic (emotional) system in our brain gets triggered. The limbic system is known as “the ‘feeling and reacting brain’ that is interposed between the ‘thinking brain’ and the output mechanisms of the nervous system. In this construct, the limbic system is usually under control of the ‘thinking brain’ but obviously can react on its own.” Source: https://www.dartmouth.edu/~rswenson/NeuroSci/chapter_9.html
In other words, the limbic system is the home of Worries, Anxieties, and Doubts (or WADs, as I call them in my programs).
Tips to keep you sane
You can’t think or create when you’re in limbic system limbo, so you need to get out of it quickly.
Here are some tips that can help you stay sane as an introverted solopreneur:
- Accept that solopreneurship is a rollercoaster, and simply label the experience from day to day or even moment to moment. This helps you detach from the feelings – in other words, “see it, don’t be it.”
In my case I started labeling every situation as either “agony” or “ecstasy.” It’s amazing how powerful this reframe can be! I could be in the midst of feeling completely hopeless about a steep technological learning curve, and when I’d recognize that I’m feeling panic and overwhelm, I’d remember to say, “Oh, so this is an agony day.”
Then I’d remember that other days have been “ecstasy” days (when I’m using my superpowers). Then I’d realize where I am on the rollercoaster. That’s all the detachment I needed to put the frustrating situation into its proper perspective, get out of limbic system limbo, and strategize the best way to conquer the tech learning curve.
- Tell a friend or accountability partner which kind of day you’re having. Speaking about the experience you’re having helps you detach from it. And the spurt of the happy hormone “oxytocin” you get from the bonding experience with your friend immediately takes you out of “limbic system limbo.” Plus, you’ll probably get some good, practical ideas for dealing with the current anxiety-provoking situation.
- Take a break from your business. The fear thoughts the limbic system throws out can seem true, and buying into them fuels the freakout even more. Getting away from the whole enterprise can help you get things back into perspective.
When I first started my business, when I got too overwhelmed to continue, I’d “quit.” I’d actually say out loud, “I quit.” Then I’d go hang out at my favorite yarn store and knit and enjoy the company of other women knitting at the large table there.
After the bad feelings melted away, creative ideas would start seeping into my mind – ideas that would use my teaching superpower – and before I knew it, I’d eagerly drive home so I could start creating again!
It took a long time for me to realize that when I was “quitting,” I was really just taking a much-needed break from my business. Now taking a break is part of my strategy for preventing overwhelm and getting back into creativity mode, which is what makes me love my business.
- Do something that engages your physical body. Take a walk in nature, dance to some upbeat music, or go to the gym or yoga studio. This releases calming chemicals in your brain and gets you out of limbic system dominance.
- Use essential oils or Rescue Remedy. I’m not an expert in this, but I do have some essential oils I like to use as aromatherapy, either putting a few drops in my diffuser or just sniffing them. And I put a few drops of Rescue Remedy in my water, which quickly calms me down.
- Apply a spiritual remedy that’s relevant for you. When we’re in limbic system limbo, we’re in “fight, fright, or freeze” mode and don’t have access to the spiritual awareness we might otherwise enjoy. When you bring your Higher Power into the situation, you can quickly see things from a higher perspective.
In your journal, try having your Higher Power write a letter to you from that higher perspective. That can get you out of the fear-based story you’re telling yourself.
- Do some Tapping. Personally, I can’t stand EFT tapping; rapidly saying a bunch of words while trying to remember where on the body I’m supposed to tap drives me nuts. I prefer a simple form I learned (long before the days of the EFT tapping craze) that I think is more introvert-brain-friendly. It’s a bilateral tapping technique I learned from a psychotherapist friend many years ago.
For some reason, I forget the “tapping solution” until I’m at my wits’ end. But it works incredibly quickly – at the brain level, restoring balance in the emotional (limbic) brain and activating the rational-thinking frontal lobes.
I’ve written up how to do this simple yet powerful tapping technique. You can get it HERE (no opt-in needed).
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I’m currently designing programs for introverted women who are:
- Consultants & Coaches. You’re brilliant in your area of expertise and are highly skilled in helping others, but you’re resisting the promotion part of your business.
- Post-corporate encore business owners. You’re realizing that as the owner of a business, success hinges solely on you. Your introvert traits can seem like obstacles to your success – but they don’t have to be!