In this episode of Art of Online Business, I’m talking about an extremely important topic that I feel is underserved and needs to be talked about more. That topic is mental health as an entrepreneur and our emotional well-being.
If you’ve ever struggled with your mental health or emotional well-being as an entrepreneur, this episode is going to be for you. I sat down with Shulamit Ber Levtov, the Entrepreneur’s Therapist, to dive into this important topic.
Shulamit is the Entrepreneurs’ Therapist. She works with (mostly women) business owners to care for their mental and emotional well-being in an era of relentless stressors that can make you lose your shit on the daily.
Shulamit has been an entrepreneur for over 27 years and has more than 22 years of professional experience applying therapeutic, coaching, and somatic tools to support women’s mental health and personal growth.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- Why Shula decided to focus on working with entrepreneurs
- How to structure a life that supports the business you want to have
- Why entrepreneurs need to pay attention to their mental health
- How you’ll know when your mental health is suffering
- The calls for care that we need to watch for
- Things you can do to soothe your nervous system
- How your temperament impacts your mental health
- Ways to handle our inner critic and self-doubt
- Integrating your mental health plan into your business plan
Links & Resources:
- Read How To Be Positive Without Being Toxic: Realistic Optimism
- Read Three Principles Of Stress Resilience
- The Art of Online Business website
- DM me on Instagram
- Visit my YouTube channel
- The Art of Online Business clips on YouTube
- Full episodes of The Art of Online Business Podcast on YouTube
- The Art of Online Business Podcast website
- Check out my Accelerator coaching program
*Disclosure: I only recommend products I use and love and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.
Shulamit Ber Levtov’s Links:
- Visit Shula’s website
- Get the Entrepreneur’s Therapist newsletter
- Connect with Shula on LinkedIn
- Follow Shula on Instagram
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It is a fact that mental health challenges are inherent in entrepreneurship, not the exception. They are the rule. Okay, so that’s a risk in business and in business. Risk is also inherent. And what we do in business to mitigate our risk is we have plans. We have a business plan, it has a cash flow forecast, it has a financial plan, it has a marketing plan, a SWOT analysis, Right.
Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, analysis to cover all the other risks in business. So therefore, it would behoove us to have a mental health plan also as an inherent integral part of our business plan, because it’s a risk that we face and we are our businesses. Greatest asset our mind, the mind of the CEO of the founder is the basis for the business. And what’s up, my friends?
Welcome to today’s episode of the podcast, Rick here. And I want to talk about a really, really, really important topic that I feel like is very underserved that needs to be talked about more. I’ve talked about it in the past here on the show a few times, and I really want to change that beginning with today’s episode, and that is the topic of mental health as an entrepreneur and our emotional well being. If you’ve ever struggled with your mental health or emotional well-being as an entrepreneur, this episode is going to be for you.
I’ll tell you, the more the more conversations that I have with people. I mean, this is happening if not, if not daily, every other day I’m hearing about or talking to somebody who is going through something or has been going through something from a mental health perspective that is coming from their business As a result of their business. And maybe it’s burnout, maybe it’s, you know, whatever. But I feel like not enough people are talking about it. And so I want to change that. As I’ve mentioned in the past and again, I hope that today’s episode with my with my guest, who is just amazing, is one step, you know, towards being okay with talking about this stuff.
And so my guest today, she’s an expert in this. Her name is Shulamit Baer Levitov, and she goes by Shula and she is the entrepreneur’s therapist. She’s been an entrepreneur for over 27 years, and she’s got more than 22 years of professional experience applying therapeutic coaching and somatic tools to support mostly women’s mental health and personal growth. And again, she works with mostly women business owners to care for their mental and emotional well-being.
In, as she says, an era of relentless stressors that can make you lose your shit on The Daily. And this is a really, really fun conversation with Shula. Not a fun topic, but again, something I feel like we need to be talking more about and we’re just scratching the surface today, my friend with Shula, but a great conversation with her. Super, super knowledgeable, definitely an expert in this stuff. So today we’re talking about the invisible struggle, navigating mental health as an entrepreneur with Shula. Without further ado, let’s go hang out and chat with Shula. Shula, welcome to the podcast. How are you doing today?
And today is actually a good day. And I’m really celebrating that.
Why do you say that?
Well, I had a hip replacement in September, and prior to that, I was unable to walk for 15 months. And so any day I can walk is a good day. But it happens to be that it’s nice enough here and sunny enough here that I’ve been out already once today and will walk again. And that’s just really exciting to me.
Things that we take for granted.
Oh, my goodness. But walking is such a privilege. Yeah, such a privilege.
Things we don’t normally think about. And you say, Sunny, here, you’re in. Well, I just. What I just learned right before we hit record. Not Eastern Canada. Central Canada. Yes, that’s in Ontario.
Yeah. Yeah. Southeastern Ontario. Sort of near the town of Merrickville or further away, but close to Ottawa if folks know Canada’s capital. Gotcha.
What I want to just ask you right off the bat. I mean, you’re you’ve been an entrepreneur or entrepreneur for a long time. You’re a master’s level social worker and psychotherapist. Why focus on entrepreneurs?
Well, I’m sure you know the answer.
Well, I mean, you could focus on anybody. Right.
Well, you could. Of course you can.
Anybody can do this help?
Well, yes, everybody does. Can benefit from therapy. The thing is so. When I did my master’s degree, I was it was later in my life I was starting a new career. And this had to I was intending to go into private practice and the business had to support me until basically the day I died. And so, of course, we learn our art or our craft in school, but we don’t learn anything about how to run a business. Yeah. And so right out of school, I was right into business courses, coaching, networking with other entrepreneurs. I joined the chamber, all that kind of stuff.
And in the course of building my business and in the course of hanging out with other entrepreneurs, none of whom were therapists, I lived for myself and heard from others the emotional and mental toll of running a business and. It became clear to me that there was a need for a therapist who understood the intersection of entrepreneurship and mental health. And that’s how the entrepreneur’s therapist was born.
Where did you where did you go from there? After you sort of realized that, did you focus on that solely when you got your practice going?
Oh, that came that came a while into my practice. So initially initially I was working with employee assistance programs. So that’s through the employer where employees are offered therapy funded by the employer. Okay. And I took some private pay clients and that was that was kind of the first. And you start as a generalist usually. And then I began to specialize. So I did trauma therapy for folks who were recovering from sexual assault and domestic violence. And so you have to market your business. You have to draw in the clients, right?
And then because there was such a demand for my services, I opened a group practice, a brick and mortar practice with associates. And it was around that time as I began to run an even bigger business because it’s one thing to be self employed and it’s that’s equally stressful. Yeah. But to run a bigger business with associates and a team and all that kind of stuff is just kind of upped the game in the stress department, you know? Sure. And so it was at that point in my practice that I as I was going through the process as businesses do, of niching down, right?
Because I started as a generalist and just kept finding clearer and clearer direction around who I was meant to serve. And ultimately it became entrepreneurs.
Have you have you ever not have there ever been because you’ve been doing this a long time? Right? Have there ever been periods of time where you’ve not taken your own advice?
Honestly, no. I think for a couple of reasons. One, as I say, I came to this late in life like, you know, in my 20s or 30s for sure I did. I was not a therapist then, but for sure I did all the I did all the self care things wrong. Right? But I’m a trauma survivor and running a business is enormously difficult. Understanding trauma and the dynamics of trauma and trauma recovery. For myself particularly, I
need to structure my life in such a way that it supports the work I want to do, much like folks who have disabilities and mental health challenges and other things that bring them into business, right? You kind of have you do have to structure your life in such a way, from my point of view, as to support your business or your business is not sustainable. And so for me, it’s a it’s a priority.
I just cannot because of the emotional labor, right. The the weight that I carry in the work that I do with folks. I can’t not take my own advice or I couldn’t do the work. Yeah. I mean, there are always times, for example, one of the one of the pieces of advice that I hold very strongly to is having good boundaries. But there are times when I will. So I have appointment slots at certain like Tuesdays and Wednesdays right now, in the afternoon or when I work with clients.
But there are occasions when I will schedule clients outside of those slots, but it’s not a consistent thing, so it’s not a policy that I exceed. My boundaries in that way. But there are exceptions, I think, and I think that’s what it is to be human. You have you have your way of doing things. I have my way of doing things. And there are occasional exceptions to it. Yes.
You said structure life that supports a business that you want to have. What does that mean?
So, for example, making sure that I have three meals a day that I have regular. Arrest. That I have a start and end to my workday. That I don’t overschedule my workdays, that I have things that fill me up outside of work. So it’s like my life is a foundation on which my work is built. Does that make sense? Is that clear? Sure.
Yeah. And along with that, you said. You mentioned doing. You know, you did all the self-care things wrong early on. What does that mean?
Well, you know, I mean, burn the candle at both ends, crossed all my boundaries, took responsibility for things that were not mine. Worried about things, you know, unable to distinguish between what’s in my control and what isn’t in my control and worrying and then trying to affect trying to influence things that were not mine to influence, not having a good relationship with myself, like the self talk, the list goes on and on. It’s a maturity issue, right? I think that as we grow, we learn how better to care for and relate to ourselves. Sure.
What are some what are some ways? Because, you know, I think the answer is obvious, but I want to hear your thoughts on this, why we as entrepreneurs need to be or should be caring about our mental health. Because let’s face it, this is a topic that isn’t really talked about a whole lot. I feel like the term burnout has kind of become.
Yeah, it’s pretty prevalent.
You know, it’s unfortunately, I think it’s kind of become a buzzword, but it’s a real thing. It is a real thing. I am I am happy that it’s more that it is more prevalent from the perspective of people often are oftentimes are experiencing burnout but yet don’t really realize that it’s going on. So yeah. And in your words and your thoughts like why should we as entrepreneurs be caring about our mental health?
From my point of view, mental health challenges are an inherent risk in entrepreneurship. It’s the nature of the work that we do. It’s mentally and emotionally challenging. There’s no doubt about it.
But if you have a doubt about it, one of the primary researchers in the field, Michael Freeman, who’s a psychologist and a psychiatrist in the US, he did a study in 2015 and there have been subsequent studies by the National Institutes of Mental Health in the US and by the Canadian Association for Mental Health as well. And there’s another one in the UK, I forget, and the data shows what a hard time entrepreneurs have with mental health challenges, right? So it is a fact. That mental health challenges are inherent in entrepreneurship, not the exception. They are the rule. Okay, so that’s a risk in business. And in business. Risk is also inherent, right? And what we do in business to mitigate our risk is we have plans.
We have a business plan. It has a cash flow forecast, it has a financial plan, it has a marketing plan. This is a SWOT analysis, Right. Strengths, Weaknesses. Opportunities. Threats. Analysis. To cover all the other risks in business. So therefore, it would behoove us to have a mental health plan also as an inherent integral part of our business plan, because it’s a risk that we face and we are our businesses.
Greatest asset our mind, the mind of the CEO of the founder is the basis for the business. And if if we don’t plan for and mitigate risk to that business asset, our business is on shaky ground. I mean, that’s the business case for it, right? Sure. Which is, you know, it’s very cold and logical. And from the human case, like, I mean, who wants to suffer? Yeah. Who wants to be miserable?
Many of us came to self-employment and to business ownership as a way to create something for ourselves that meets our needs. Why would we reproduce the, the the the the toxic environments that we’ve experienced, let’s say, in employment or that we witnessed in employment? Why would we reproduce that in our business? And again, that’s that’s the kind of human side of well I’ve I’ve I’ve I’m self employed but I’m more miserable than I was at work. It’s another reason to account, a human reason to account for our mental health right. And to structure our businesses in such a way that they support us in flourishing as a whole. Human. The business flourishes while we flourish, and as a result, the business flourishes.
So that’s the human argument.
I love that you say like, you know, having all of the, you know, the business plan and the SWOT analysis. Et cetera. Et cetera. But we don’t we don’t have, you know, any sort of mental health plan. Yeah. Included in what we’re in, what we’re doing right now from a and not to scare people, but I think it’s important to talk about what are some of the symptoms that we can experience when we are not prioritizing mental health. Running our businesses. There are some of the things that that happen.
Well, I’m just going to leave a pause for a moment and invite the folks listening. Because this is a this is an inherent part of every speech I give is that interaction with the audience where I say, so, you know, when you’re stressed.
How do you know? And usually there’s some wry laughter and I invite people to shout out what they experience. Right. It’s a real kind of like validation moment for folks. So. I’ll leave a moment for listeners to recall what it’s like for them. Would you be comfortable throwing out a couple of things on your own and then I can say more?
Yeah, for for me, when I’m stressed out, I well, first of all, my I have eczema and I’ve had eczema my entire life. And like my I itch like my skin will. I feel the effects of it, you know, in literally in my skin. The other thing that is my brain just like cannot process. Anything and I begin to shut down. Yeah. Yeah.
So if we were eye to eye with folks listening, I’d be like, anybody recognize this eye? I mean, itchy skin. I don’t. But the flare of symptoms I have chronic illnesses and symptom flares occur when I’m more stressed. And also the difficulty concentrating can be a challenge for many people. The what the situation, what’s happening in our bodies is that it’s a perceived threat. The human organism at the level of survival and safety is much like a mammal. We have the mammalian brain and so it will perceive these things as threats, as if there was a bear. But in the modern era, of course, we can’t run from the bear. There are no bears.
There’s phone calls and emails and client unhappy clients and conflict with team members and all that kind of stuff. And but the body reacts as if we are a rabbit and there is a bear coming to eat us, right? So we can experience all the things that the rabbit needs to run, right? Muscle tension so that the to get the strength to the muscles to run shortened breath to deliver oxygen quickly to the body, increased blood pressure again to deliver blood to the muscles, increased heart rate, sweaty palms, dry mouth, all the adrenaline things, all of which are designed to help the rabbit run from the bear.
And our mind at this level still thinks we’re a rabbit. And so as humans, we can experience all of these things. And chronic muscle tension then leads to like aches and pains, but also headaches, grinding your teeth, trouble sleeping. Right? There’s like a whole array. I could go on for about 15 minutes about the whole array of things that we experience that make sense when you think of them in terms of, Oh, my body is behaving like a rabbit that has to run from a bear. Yeah. So we have a lot we have physiological things and. Difficulty in the body kind of inhibits.
Our capacity as a human and therefore as an entrepreneur when we’re carrying so much for our business. But even more so is the impact on the brain. Where as entrepreneurs, our prefrontal cortex, which is the human part of the brain. So we have the mammalian brain sort of in the middle and then the prefrontal cortex over top. And this is where our human capacities lie. So beyond the fight and flight safety stuff. But the thing is, though, that when we have those fight and flight signals in our body, the prefrontal cortex stops communicating with the rest of us and we lose access to our creative capacities, our ability to take in and synthesize information, our capacity to make decisions, our ability to concentrate and focus, all the things that make us CEOs, our CEO self.
We it stops communicating with the rest of us. We don’t. We have either less poor or no access to the very CEO. We need to run our business. And so there’s a lot of cognitive impacts for folks who are having struggles, you know, chronic stress in the business and then there was one other thing. Oh, yes, mood. So we can experience depression and anxiety and other kinds of like on a mood level. And then if it’s left uncared for, then it can become actually it can rise to the level of needing diagnosis and care by a registered mental health professional and possibly also a medical team. You know, it it occurs along a spectrum where you can start with just like, oh, I’m queasy and I’m not sleeping very well to I’ve got clinical depression, a major depressive episode, and I need to take a time out and, you know, get my feet back under me. Yeah.
If if somebody’s not. Doing these mental, these mental health self-care things for themselves. What’s a good place for someone to start?
I’m going to answer that question, but I’m going to go back just a minute, because it’s really important to say that even when we care for ourselves in the quote unquote, right way. There are times when we can still experience, we will still experience the impact of the stress we’re going through. It will affect us. Just like if you cut yourself with a knife. No matter how well you care for yourself, you’re still going to bleed because that’s what the body does. That’s it’s its attempt, its survival and healing attempt. Right. And so we have to look at things like burnout, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, all of these things as signals. Calls for care. Right. Signals that we need to look under the hood.
So we need to think of them in terms of data of good information to pay attention to that will empower us to take action. And at the same time, we have to also offer ourselves some grace because we only have a certain carrying capacity. Right. One of the images that I use in my talks is of an elevator, right? And it says on the wall carrying capacity, 18 people and it could carry 20. It could carry 25. It could carry 25 people over and over and over again. But outside the actual cab of the elevator is the are the big cables. And those big cables with repeated wear are one day just going to give.
Right. And the human organism is very much the same that we can we can overload ourselves for a long time and still take care of ourselves the way we ought to be and still then experience an impact. And we have to like it’s important to I don’t want to give the impression that if you take care of yourself, you will not get sick or have trouble. Yeah. You know, it can happen regardless. And so, yes, what can we do? Where can we start? Well, as you know, like, we all have way too much to do. Yeah. And the last thing we need is another thing to put on our to do list. Right? Right. So I teach the three principles of stress resilience to soothe discharge and nourish your nervous system. And so I have a link for that.
I’ll send you the information and you can put it in the show notes. Okay. Because the idea is that the nervous system, again, because it’s a mammalian, it has a mammalian way of being, it doesn’t respond to language. It responds better to experience. And so what makes us the way we could think about it is we’re getting threat message after threat, message after threat message every day, you know, emails, phone calls, things we have to do, deadlines, all that. Right. And it’s just threat, threat, threat, which our organism is supposed to mobilize to respond to to these demands.
That’s how we live life. It’s good. What’s a problem is when we don’t get to go down from the threat into the rest and digest phase so that we can replenish ourselves and come back up again and so we can engage that rest and digest aspect of our organism by engaging in things that soothe discharge and nourish the nervous system. And so where you can start is to look at, well, what am I already doing?
That soothes me. That makes me go, Oh, Oh, man. Right. And for some people, it’s a hot bath. But for other people, it’s sitting in nature. It’s very idiosyncratic, which is why I don’t teach a prescriptive. Oh, meditation and yoga. That’s what I’ll do. It can be different for everybody. Everybody? Exactly. Yeah. Discharge because of the buildup of mobilization, energy in the body and also emotions. We need to find a way to let that go, to discharge it by moving our body and moving our emotions. Although I will say not exercise. If you hate exercise, I’m not talking exercise. I’m talking just moving the body and finding a way that works for you. And then nourishing is things that are uplifting and engaging. So it could be it could be something religious or spiritual worship service, singing, spending time in nature.
It could be also spending time with people who are important to you, your community, a sense of connection. So whatever uplifts and nourishes you, right? And if you can think take those three principles and think about, well, what am I already doing that fit into these categories and pay attention to those. Do them with intention. And do them more frequently. So little interventions in the duration of the day. Little five minutes here and there. And trust me, five minutes like there are very few, especially in online business there. You know, it’s not like brick and mortar, but even in brick and mortar business, there are very few things that five minutes is going to is going to somebody is going to die or something terrible is going to happen. Yeah. Little five minutes here and there. In the course of your day.
Is where you can start and where I would recommend starting and that you do it with intention. So you say, Oh, this is the thing I’m doing to soothe my nervous system and then do it with intention and awareness and then go back to what you were doing before. And that’s kind of less heavy lifting right, than this whole big like campaign. Right. Or taking hours out of your day or taking days out of your week or months out of your year. That’s where I would recommend people start.
Got it. And that makes that makes a lot of sense. And like as you’re talking like I’m doing this sort of self checklist for myself. Now, if we have sort of and I and I want to talk to you about this concept, you talk a lot about this concept of resilience versus mindset. And the connection or maybe lack thereof between the two. But I know people who just have a very sort of the way I would describe them, like light and easygoing attitude. Things don’t bother them very much.
For people who are experiencing that. What I see from the outside and maybe they’re doing I mean, one person I’m thinking of, does the I know for a fact they do the things that you’re talking about. So that’s certainly, you know, and they’ve had a very long and successful online business and no sign of slowing down. But I’m also thinking of somebody else who is like super hard charging, you know, just like, No, no. Like I’m, you know, I’m hustle and all this other stuff, which.
I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
Right. Exactly. Exactly. Zero judgment. Is their attitude or could their attitude about all these things be affecting? The maybe the lack of the prioritizing of mental health. Does that make sense?
Yeah. Well, there’s a couple of things I’ll say in response to that, and then we’ll see if that’s if it lands the way like responds to what you’re curious about. First of all, there’s a question of temperament. There’s a psychological concept of temperament, and we’re all born with temperaments. And I forget exactly what they all are, but it’s what I’m remembering now is brittle versus flexible. Right? It’s just it’s just it’s called temperament. And people can Google that. So like, if you’re a person like the one you described who’s more easygoing, that’s a question. And I would say to begin with, of temperament. And, you know, temperaments are temperaments. There’s not much we can do about that. So in the temperament, what I remember the temperament research is there’s kind of easygoing versus brittle.
So it’s not a it’s not a type A, type B kind of thing. It’s really more like how a person responds to stress. And for some folks, it’s they’re cool about it. And for other folks, they’re like, whoa, freak out, can’t handle it. Yeah. And so obviously a person with a more brittle or more fragile or less flexible temperament needs more support to be able to work with the stressors that they face, regardless of whether they’re an entrepreneur or not. Sure, the drivenness where it comes from, I don’t know. Like I don’t have a recollection of having read research around the Drivenness and I suspect as a therapist that where that comes from can vary from person to person.
And what if a person saw that they themselves were affected by their drivenness so that they’re experiencing consequences they didn’t enjoy? Then that would be the time for them to work with a therapist and get curious about, well, what is going on with this? And because the thing is, we can find ourselves in habits of behavior. And there’s, like, no bridge between the habit. And the awareness and curiosity builds that bridge so that then we can begin to say, Well, if this isn’t serving me, how do I want to do it differently? And so for an example that occurs often for folks who run their own businesses, especially folks who’ve well, just folks who are in North America and folks, let’s say, who are running their businesses.
Because of the world we live in, and in particular, the puritanical underpinnings of North American culture. That equate hard work with moral value. Unless we really examine. And I loved your work on values, the podcast episode you did on values, That’s an example of the kind of examination. Well, you talked a lot about implementation, but the thing is that before you came to what it looks like in implementation, I’m assuming you did examination underneath to really look at like, what actually do I value? Yeah.
Because nature abhors a vacuum. And if we don’t examine what matters to us and what does not and put behaviors and actions and structures in place to bring in what we want, then the dominant culture will fill that vacuum. Right. And so coming back to the driven ness, if when we set up our businesses, we don’t take a close look at what we value and what we want for ourselves, what we want as an experientially what kind of a life, a day to day life experience we want. We will find ourselves just reproducing the systems of oppression, you know, capitalism and white supremacy and all those things ableism, ageism.
Fatphobia will reproduce all of that in the way we structure our businesses and in the way we relate to our businesses and to ourselves as folks who run a business. Because that’s that’s the water we’re in. Right. And so driven ness. For many folks can come from something psychological in quotation marks that requires curiosity, but it could also come from just unquestioningly reproducing the dominant culture. So with respect to your friend who’s driven, I can’t say like or the person you know, it would be hard to say which it would be. But those are two possibilities.
When we those things tend to happen when we don’t have the structures in place. You mentioned. Is that right?
Yeah. Got it. Yeah, because we have to consciously say that like consciously look at what don’t we want and say, well then if I don’t want that, what do I want and how do I get there? Right. Yeah.
Now I work with a lot of. Multiple six figure. Online business owners, course creators, membership coaches. Et cetera. And they want to get to seven figures. One of the prevailing thoughts is doubt in what to do next or they know what to do, but there’s doubt there. Is any of that coming from? Do you have any explanation about why that tends to come up? The doubt in themselves, because they have.
Obviously they’ve obviously done it. Yeah.
Right, Exactly. Yeah.
But yet there’s still doubt. Yeah. Well, you know, again, this is a very idiosyncratic thing and it depends on the individual. And we would have to really be curious. A possible explanation that might be relevant to some folks is the inner critic or the criticizing voice or the inner criticizing process, however you want to conceive of it. It’s a common phenomenon among particularly North American, especially white folks. And there’s the it’s root. My belief is that it roots its roots are in the reward and punishment systems in which we are raised. So even though, like even though you may not go to church, you go to school and like it’s clear reward and punishment in school. And that’s how still the majority parenting we’re you know, that’s kind of unless you actually engage in attachment parenting and nonviolent parenting and those kinds of things like the dominant you know, it’s a time out if you do something wrong and that’s how you’re going to learn not to do something wrong.
And we reproduce that with ourselves. We we berate ourselves and kick ourselves and tell ourselves, oh, you know, who do you think you are thinking that? That is what is going to motivate us. To do better. That punishment motivates us to not do the bad thing and to. Yes. Do the good thing. Right. So the inner critic underneath it, the way I was trained and the way I work. If we flip it over, if we flip because it’s got a very it’s a lot. It’s like this might even speak to you as a parent. You know, if your kid were to run in traffic, you would run out like the bear going across and you would grab them by the arm and you would yank them out of the traffic and you’d like you’d say, don’t ever do that again. Right. And that would be scary to the kid. That would be frightening. That would appear violent. Right. It’s a big energy, Sure. But what’s under that?
Love for the. For my daughter.
Yeah. Trying to keep her safe?
Yes. Fear? Yeah. Yeah. Fear. Fear. Fear based in love. But fear. You’re afraid that she could get killed? Yeah. And the inner critic is just like that. It’s afraid of something. It’s afraid of some harm coming to us and it’s trying its best to protect us from harm. And so we could say in a case like this that people are afraid of looking like a fool, feeling like a failure, suffering other kind of adverse consequences. What if what if this next risk burns my whole business down? Right.
And so this is the way to handle this is to recognize that there is, in fact, some concern for our well-being, to acknowledge the concern for the well-being, to say, oh, yes, of course. Of course. Of course. Like I’m thinking, for example, I’m not an example is not coming to me about a business risk, but like public speaking, right? If this is one of the things that they’ve said that they have to do in order to move their business forward and they’re terrified about going on stage. And, you know, they don’t want to look the fool because it might have a negative impact. And like, of course, of course, you don’t want to have to go through that.
And of course, you are concerned that I do. Well, this is really your your heartfelt wish to the inner critic is that I would do well. Thank you for letting me know. Uh, this is important information. Please, I’m going to. Please allow me to put the things in place to address the things you’re worried about. For example, I’m going to get a speaking coach. I’m going to practice. I’m going to do a dry run and get feedback. These are all tactics that might be ignored if the person doesn’t listen to the fear or the doubt or the worry. In other words, the voice of the inner critic. Right. Again, it’s like the check engine light on the dashboard.
It’s letting us know there’s something important there and we turn toward it. Pay attention to it. Let it know that we understand what it’s worried about. And then we say, Great, thanks for letting me know. I’m going to take care of this. I got you. And then that will alleviate to some degree, it won’t make it go away entirely because it serves an important purpose. The doubt or the worry, right?
Most of us don’t think so.
But in the scenario I’ve described. Sure. Yeah. And this I would I would assert this is the way to deal with it because I would assert that it does have important information for us. It doesn’t have to run the show. Right? But it does need attention. We do need to pay attention in order to understand what wisdom is there. And to let it know that we’ve got its back. It that it that its worries are well founded. Of course you want me to do well. And I’ve got this. I’ve got you. Thanks for letting me know. Which is different, by the way, from. Don’t worry.
I’ve got this is different from. Don’t worry, I’ve got you. Thank you.
Meaning like positive self-talk.
A specific kind of positive self-talk. Because, for example, this comes into the realm of toxic positivity. And I also have a post. I can send you the link for that because telling a part of you too, that’s worrying to not worry what happens.
Oh, you just worry some more.
Right? Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, if you’re upset and you turn to somebody and confide, you’re upset in them and they tell you, don’t be upset, what happens?
Yeah, you just focus on it more.
Right. And you’re hurt to boot. Yeah. Like you’re insulted or wounded or whatever. Right. So telling yourself not to worry is not the kind of positive self-talk we want. What we want is to acknowledge the worry to. To let it know that we know that it’s there for a good reason. To take account of what its concerns are and take action on those if relevant and to let it know I got this. Thanks for letting me know. It’s a relationship with as opposed to talking to.
Yeah, that makes sense.
And it’s easy to say and not so easy to do. And coaching people in this way of relating to themselves is a big part of the work that I do.
And I mean, what comes up for me is most people don’t want to slow down enough to. Listen to. Whatever’s coming up. Sure. For them. Well.
You know, coming back to the idea of a business plan, like the way I was taught to do it, is that, you know, I set yearly, quarterly, monthly goals. And then every week I do a weekly review and I look back at what my big three for last week, where did I get with them, What worked, what didn’t work, what am I going to keep as a result of that? And what am I going to let go and set my big three for next week? Right. Once you get into the rhythm of that, it can be like an even just a five minute process depending on the size of your business. For some folks, it might need to be an hour. Sure. But that’s where you do your mental health check in.
You look at like, what are my lead and lagging indicators on my mental health, my mental and emotional well-being. And then, you know, what are the lessons from last week? What worked well and what am I going to make sure is in place this week? And what am I going to let go of this week around my mental health? It’s again, the concept of what it takes mental health and self care is I think we’re not well served by the common idea of it because the exactly the reaction that you have is like, well, I don’t want to take the time or I don’t have the time for that.
But if you’re doing a weekly review for your business, again, if your mental health plan is integrated into your business planning of some sort, then it’s a five minute thing. Once a week, more or less, and a little check in in the morning. Same as when you you sit down and set your agenda for the day. You just a little 32nd check in to make sure that you’ve got what you need for the day for your mental and emotional well-being. It’s not a time suck. Yeah.
I love it. I mean, I have a ton of takeaways. I’ve been taking notes over here. That is one huge takeaway for me, is that incorporating the mental health plan along with your business planning and you know, you’re absolutely right. If you’re doing like a weekly review, what worked? What didn’t work, you know, what progress did we make? Et cetera. Including the mental health aspect of it. You know, it’s not a big deal.
No, not at all.
Love it. Where can people connect with you? Because I know there’s been a lot of people listening. Right now. They’re like, I want more Shula in my life.
Well, my website, choulika. And if you want to sign up for my newsletter, Zuleika Slash newsletter, that’s the best way to stay in touch with me. If you want a less formal way on Instagram, I’m the entrepreneur’s therapist and I love to schmooze in the DMS. I’m happy to chat. That’s for me, the most fun about Instagram is not so much the content, it’s really chatting with one another in the DMS. I really love that you so.
So you all make sure that you let Shula know that you heard her on the podcast here. I know that we’re just scratching the surface on on this topic, on these topics and just in chatting with you the past, you know, whatever, 45 minutes or so, I can chat with you for hours on this. So thank you for coming on to the show and diving into this. I think there’s so much that we can unpack here and incorporate into into our bodies like, you know, one of the in businesses. And one of the things, again, and I had lots of takeaways, but one of the other big thing that I’m taking away is like, look, we as business owners, we need to use our brains on a daily basis. We need to make sure that we are protecting them so that they can be running optimally. And when we don’t do that, that’s where we start to run into the problems of, you know, burnout. Et cetera. Et cetera. So, so important. Thank you, Shula. Appreciate it.
Thanks for the invitation, Rick. It was a great conversation.
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