The choice to go to therapy was one of the hardest things I have ever done because it forced me to face the reality that I needed some help. Letting go of my ego and choosing to be vulnerable with someone I didn’t know ended up being the best decision of my life. 

You see, the thing about therapy is that by facing what’s happening internally, you’re indirectly affecting every relationship you have around you. Making the commitment to understand more about yourself and how you process your emotions will help you:

  1. Better articulate your thoughts and feelings.
  2. Better recognize emotional cues.
  3. Create a healthier inner monologue.
  4. Create room for all of your emotions.

Learning more about how to apply these things in my everyday life by looking at my deepest emotional triggers helped me realize that we are all actually looking for similar things:

  • Financial security and freedom.
  • Deeper connections with friends and partners.
  • More quality time with our families.
  • Ways to keep our creative sides alive.
  • Time to take care of our health.

Although we all crave similar things, what’s different for each of us is the path we take to get there. That’s what makes everyone’s story unique, and that, for me, might be one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned when it comes to leadership. 

Anyone who starts a business is taking on a leadership role, whether they know it or not. The long-term success of every business is determined by how well everyone is aligned with the company’s vision, and I believe going to therapy is one of the best things any business owner can do to ensure that vision’s success. Business is all about the successful organization of people, and you can’t lead others well until you’re happy with yourself. 

So today I wanted to share with you some of the most important things I have taken away from my therapy. Hopefully, they give you some insight into where you are struggling and inspire you to make the investment to talk to someone too.

Better Articulate Your Thoughts and Feelings

One of the most important skills a leader has is the ability to communicate. The work you do in therapy is directly related to this. It helps you understand how your emotions are attached to your thoughts and how you can best say what you want to convey.

For example, in my experience, I always used to react before I thought because I was letting emotion take the lead in how I was communicating. More often than not, that emotion was related to something personal that triggered me and I would take it out on the person in front of me. 

Through therapy, I have been able to face those deeper triggers and allow more room for the emotions attached to them. This has made a huge impact for me on how I communicate with everyone in my life. I can create a space to feel the emotion before I react, which gives me more time to think about how I can better respond or handle the situation.

This has done wonders for me in my ability to communicate with a lot of different people because I now have a safe space for my emotions that doesn’t get in the way of getting through the true problem with other people. 

I have by no means perfected this yet, but I am working on it every day and have learned to accept that it will always be a work in progress.

Better Recognize Emotional Cues

This is something I see so much more in others now because I learned how to see and feel my own emotional cues during my therapy. 

For example, anger tends to rise within the body. So if you are having a conversation with someone and see them taking a big, deep, and swift chest breath, that could be their body’s reaction to some anger they’re feeling. 

Sadness can show up in many different ways. You can see it in someone’s eyes if they’ve stopped looking at you as they begin to well up. The way someone holds their mouth; biting their lip to stop it from quivering; a shift in their breathing as if they can’t seem to get enough oxygen as they breathe. The tone of their voice could be shifting as they’re trying to hold the sadness in their throat so you can’t hear it.

Happiness is generally the easiest to spot as you can feel the warmth from someone’s smile or the roar of their genuine laughter.

More often than not, though, when we start to feel those negative emotions, our anxiety creeps in. It’s as if a thick layer of fog has begun to set in, making it impossible to navigate and really feel what emotion is actually rising up for us. This can make it extremely difficult to communicate effectively with someone. 

By developing an understanding of your own emotional cues in therapy, you can create much more awareness and patience for the cues of other people. Sometimes having the ability to just sit with them is powerful enough to make an impact. Simply letting their emotions be present from that emotional cue you noticed can be the difference between making a real connection with that person or them disassociating more because you’re talking over what they’re feeling.

As a business owner, ensuring your team feels heard and listened to is crucial to creating trust. A team with an open dialogue that can have difficult conversations about the real issues is going to create a thriving work environment. I know only from my experience but having a tougher real conversation always feels better afterward than the ones where you skimmed the surface and neither of you said what was really going on. 

Create a Healthier Inner Monologue

The way I talked to myself before I started therapy was easily the most toxic thing I would do to myself on a regular basis. It destroyed how I viewed myself. I know so many friends and colleagues who have similar tendencies and they choose to just push through, which is okay, but burnout is inevitable with that route.

There is you and there is the version of you in your head. Sometimes they seem to always be at odds. But I started to notice that after a few months of therapy, I could see those “two people” less and less at odds.

I could feel the two versions of myself getting more in sync with each other and my confidence growing. The dread I was feeling about the future of our business seemed to go away. I was no longer always asking myself: 

“Do I really want to do this forever?” or “Is this actually what I love doing?”.

The idea of running this particular business was no longer the focus but rather what the outcome of running this business can do for me. For the lucky few business owners, they found a way to monetize their passion. But for a lot of us, we build them out of the need to support our families and create some financial stability with the hope that someday our business will give us the freedom to choose our family first.

My inner monologue no longer dictates the outcome of my day. It now serves as my guide, making sure I stay on the path of where I want to go.

For many business owners the internal battle is the toughest part. Winning against yourself is where real success can come from. Doing that is a lot easier said than done but one piece of advice I would give is to find other business owners in your local area. Whether it’s through networking or local events, you would be surprised how much entrepreneurship there is around you and how willing the community is to help each other. A little vulnerability among your peers can go a long way in helping you get outside of your own head and not feel so isolated.

Create Room for All Your Emotions

Another huge turning point for me during my therapy was realizing that everyone needs to create a space for each one of their unique emotions because you can’t have one without the other. What I mean by that is our happiness isn’t really a destination that you stay at forever. It is a number of different moments we experience throughout our lives and those moments pass. Once they are over, there will always be another emotion to take its place.

For me, realizing that I can’t have happiness without sadness or anger has actually made me a happier person overall. I can appreciate more moments in my life for what they are instead of for what I wish them to be.

As a business owner, there are an endless number of moments where our emotions can overwhelm us and it can feel like a deserted island with no help in sight. But therapy can help provide you with an internal skill set that will help you create space for everything you feel.

We are all happy, sad, angry, and fearful, all at the same time. Therapy can help give you a better regulator to know when you’re feeling what and why.

What does this ultimately mean for your business?

Simply put, all businesses are a collection of people working together toward a common goal. So business is really about becoming a master of communication. The thing is, you can’t become a master of communication for everyone else. You can only master it for yourself and form your own perspective. 

Becoming clearer with your thoughts and feelings, recognizing your own emotional cues, strengthening your inner monologue, and creating some space for everything you feel are all personal journeys. By doing the tough work with yourself, you will undoubtedly create an impact on every relationship in your life. 

If there is one thing you can take away from this, it is that you don’t need to separate your work and personal life. When you own a business you can’t separate it. The business is part of you and it affects every part of your life and that is okay. Just like with your emotions, you can’t have one without the other. So it’s about balance and creating a safe place for them everywhere in your life. 

Therapy will help teach how to balance everything within you, and once you can do this, everything around you will follow.

Thanks so much for reading. And if you’re looking for some additional info you can apply to your business today, check out this post we did highlighting our wins during the pandemic that allowed to us to keep growing: From One Business Owner to Another: How to Ensure Your Business Survives Any Curveball Thrown Its Way