Mental health and business

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How are you doing today? As a person, as a woman/man/child, as a mother/father/son/daughter, as a business owner? As a breadwinner?

Does anyone ever ask you that? Were you ever taught to ask yourself, or anyone else? If you were, then you’re at an advantage over those of us who weren’t.

For me, defining and acknowledging emotions is hard, because I never believed mine had any value. As an adult therefore recognising them and defining them is a challenge, but very important if I’m to succeed.

Why is it even important to think about how you are feeling, in a business world? Why not just push it down and ignore it? Because doing this in the long term is not sustainable and you won’t be a functional adult in a business world. As children when our emotional needs are not met, this is what we learn to do. It’s the easiest way to survive. But this manifests in different, devastating ways both during childhood and when the child grows up. Depression, anger, anxiety, fear, personality disorders. post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, emotional unavailability, increasing likelihood for an eating disorder, shunning intimacy, feeling deeply, personally flawed, feeling empty, poor self-discipline, guilt and shame, anger and aggressive behaviors, difficulty trusting others or relying upon anyone else. ( There are things we can do, though. Therapy, mentorship, study, reading and acceptance are all ways in which we can treat, or reparent ourselves.

So recently I’ve begun an exercise of defining what I’m feeling every day. Yesterday it was ‘uncertain’. Uncertain of our financial future, uncertain of our country’s future, uncertain of how the pandemic is going to end up. Today it’s “insignificant”. Of course, you can’t just leave it there, if the emotion you define leaves you feeling miserable. So today I’ve told myself that I do matter and have made a difference, that I am worthy, that I matter. Yesterday, it was 1) acceptance. To accept that yes, things ARE uncertain. I can still work towards a more certain future. 2) investment in myself – self care. Lately I have fallen back into food as a comfort item and I’m struggling to break that, but yesterday, I scheduled another hike with the family – as a healthy comfort.

As I said, defining emotions is particularly difficult for me, and others like me. This is why I’ve got to practice it more than I practice things that come easily.

Here is an emotions wheel that might be helpful. You can make your own and add different feelings.

Emotion Pinwheel

So what does this have to do with business? Well, if you aren’t mentally healthy you can’t function as a business owner. It’s as simple as that.