When I started The Overwhelmed Brain, I had no clue how I would be able to sustain it. But instead of concerning myself with an unknown future, I fearlessly purchased audio equipment and set my sights on the target of creating a weekly podcast that would spread my message.
About 6 months into the show, the reality that I would need an income to support it hit me hard. So, once again, I chose not to concern myself with a fear of an unknown future. Instead, I quit my job and started doing the show full time.
Having no money, I dug into savings to live off of for a while. And while exploring my options to make this show and everything associated with it more than just a hobby, I knew I had to make it into a living.
Pursuing a passion does involve creating a way to sustain that passion. In this episode, I am interviewed by Mike Sutton about the emotional aspects of running a business, and what it takes to get beyond the fears and doubts that almost everyone in business, whether their own or working for someone else, goes through.
(The following is a transcript from this episode)
When you really listen to another person from their point of view, and reflect back to them that understanding, it’s like giving them emotional oxygen.
Sometimes all it takes is one quote to change your life, or at least your day. I chose this quote because I see it as what I do to help other people with the challenges they face in their life. At least, that one of the skills I’ve learned over the years.
When you are truly able to listen to someone’s point of view, and step into their shoes to feel and understand what it’s like to be that person in that particular situation, you are enlightened. And not only that, the other person gets to experience what it’s like to communicate with someone who is willing to give them a safe place to express themselves too.
Imagine if you could say anything to anyone without the fear of repercussion? This is something I first practiced when I was married. I learned that when my wife was upset with me, her emotional energy would decrease simply by letting her let me have it. In other words, by letting my wife yell or scream or call me names, without me reacting or getting triggered, it allowed her to feel safe to let it all out.
What typically happens when we are upset with someone else is that we either unleash and attack, or withdraw and swallow the fear or anger. And sometimes when we are in attack mode, we still aren’t expressing what we really want to express. Sometimes our pain and fears are much deeper, and we don’t want to feel that vulnerable. So even after we unleash and yell and scream at someone else, we could still have a lot left over inside of us.
Typically, we’re fine until the next blowup (when all that stuff comes back out and gets directed at those we love). If you ever wonder why your friend or spouse keeps bringing up the same issue over and over again, it’s because he or she still hasn’t expressed what’s really bothering them at the deepest level.
There’s usually a specific event that started the process of pain or fear. And if you can’t get to the heart of that pain or fear during arguments, or even better, during the quiet times when you can communicate at a more comfortable level, the cycle will repeat itself.
If you can’t figure out the real reason someone is angry at you, they’ll likely repeat that anger again and again throughout your friendship or relationship.
But how do you do figure that out?
That’s certainly what I try to cover in my show. I try to help you reveal the repressed emotions at your emotional core. The emotional core is where all your fears and pain reside; where you feel most vulnerable to the world. However, in that same place is where your power and strength reside as well.
That’s sort of disheartening when you think about it because in order to feel empowered, you have to draw from the same place where you can also feel hurt and afraid. That’s why I choose to be vulnerable whenever I can.
When you choose to be vulnerable, you show the world what you’re made of. You show it your fears and your truths. You display strength by honoring yourself, and you expose your weaknesses at the same time.
It takes a leap of faith to put that vulnerable part of you out there into the world, that’s for sure. But what that does is release you from your own perceived limitations. In other words, what you fear the world finding out about you is exactly what is holding you back from becoming more empowered than you’ve ever been.
The emotions you repress in your emotional core (like a bank vault for your emotions) get released when you find a safe place to express yourself.
But what is a safe place? There are two safe places that I know of:
- One that someone gives to you
- One that you give to yourself.
The first one is all about trusting someone to allow you to say anything you want and need to say without them getting emotionally triggered in any way. It’s an unconditional love and respect toward you that gives you the freedom to be where you need to be.
That’s what I learned in my marriage. I learned that in order for my wife to get out some of the pain and anger from the past, she needed to express herself – even if it meant that what came out of her mouth were hurtful things about me.
One day I decided to open my heart and see her through the eyes of unconditional love, not judgment. Considering how judgmental I was when I was married, that was a tall order. I definitely had my own issues that needed healing back then. But I decided that in order for her to release a lot of emotional energy she was carrying around because of my judgments, giving her a safe place to express felt like the right thing to do for her. Unconditional love sometimes involves letting someone say anything they want to you, and about you, and letting them vent without interruption.
Do you have a safe person like that in your life? Someone that will listen to your your fears, your shame, your guilt, your embarrassments, or anything else you want to share without judgment or telling you you’re wrong for thinking that way? If not, you may feel like you are trapped inside an emotional prison.
Some people have written to me just to have an outlet because they don’t have a safe person to express to in their life. This brings me to the second safe place I mentioned above: The one you give to yourself.
Create a safe place to express yourself.
There are several ways to do this, but the first might be writing. When you write, whether with a pen or a computer, you slow down your thoughts and express more succinctly what’s going on inside of you.
You can write to someone or to no one. You can write in a journal, or on a piece of paper that you burn afterward. You can write a letter to someone and never send it, or sit on it for a few days then send it if you still feel the way you do. The point is to get it out of your system.
Writing is an outlet and a safe zone that you can create for yourself. For me, writing turned into my podcast. I evolved my safe zone into a show. I created The Overwhelmed Brain (and also my other podcast, Love and Abuse) for a multitude of reasons. One of those reasons was to express myself in ways I never felt confident enough to express in front of anyone before.
I mean, I do have safe people in my life to express myself to (which has changed my life immensely), but what about the rest of the time? I can’t just call up my friends or family every day and express what’s going on inside of me all the time. That’s why I decided to start expressing myself on this show.
Expressing myself freely didn’t happen overnight. It took a few months to get into the groove, so to speak. But after a few months of doing this show, I was able to break through some old emotional baggage by leaps and bounds.
It wasn’t just the fact that I was expressing myself through talking, it was that the audience was listening too. That made all the difference. It’s sort of like the kitten in the lion’s den analogy:
When you feel like a small, defenseless creature in a world full of judgment and harsh opinions, it’s challenging to honor yourself and speak your truth because you know in your heart that someone is going to attack you in some way.
You know, or really believe, that they’re going to tell you “You’re wrong” or “You’re stupid”. Or maybe they’ll say something like, “I am ashamed of you”. Or who knows what else? But the fear is real.
That’s what I decided to face: My own fear. I chose to confront the probability that when I express myself to the world on my podcast, I will be at my most vulnerable. I will be the kitten in the lion’s den. And if I survive that moment, then every other moment after that would be a piece of cake!
That’s exactly what happened.
Every other moment after facing the proverbial lions got easier and easier. The process of being vulnerable in front of the whole word changed my life enormously. I laid my vulnerabilities on the table, waited for the attack, but it never came. No one ever attacked. Not once.
In fact, since starting the show, I’ve gotten nothing but support for being myself and being courageous to put myself out there. Not only that, an even larger picture was forming. The picture was that the people that listened to me share my struggles could actually relate to almost everything I was sharing. Where once I felt alone and afraid, I suddenly felt connected and welcome to a world closer to me than I could have imagined.
Learning that so many people have gone through the same or similar struggles really opened my heart and eyes to the amount of emotional turmoil that almost all of us have experienced (or are still experiencing), many times throughout life.
This experience has also made me realize something even bigger that I hadn’t considered before:
People’s judgments rarely come out when you’re vulnerable.
What you will often get instead is there compassion, sympathy, and most of all, empathy. Why? Because so many people will relate to your struggles.
In fact, we have all gone through many similar scary, or painful experiences, just at different levels. But so many of us hide these experiences and our thoughts and emotions about these experiences from others, because we think we are alone and that nobody has gone through what we’ve gone through.
That simply isn’t true. You are not alone in what you’ve experienced.
You may choose to be alone in those experiences because you don’t want to feel any more vulnerable than you’ve already felt. But because you’ve had those experiences where you’ve felt vulnerable (and maybe even powerless), you associated vulnerability with powerlessness. This causes you to close off your emotions and back off being truly authentic.
When you’ve gotten away from bad situations and are no longer in the same environment that caused you to feel fear or pain, you might not ever let yourself feel vulnerable again. This can cause you to lock up a little and not trust people and live life with some fears. Fears you may not even know you have.
I don’t want that for you. I want you to feel free and open to express who you are to the world without fear.
With my show, I went from the 9 to 5 daily grind, to the ‘wake up, work all day until I pass out’ entrepreneurial journey. On the episode attached to this article, I share my journey with Mike Sutton, who reached out and wanted to interview me.
Mike helps me dive into some of the emotional aspects of becoming an entrepreneur, and what I did to get through some of the challenges that come with such a journey.
We don’t talk too many specifics of the business side of the show, but more about my personal history and how I learned to overcome some of my past.
I believe in being vulnerable. This particular episode is no different. If you listen to this show regularly, then you know I don’t talk about the business side of The Overwhelmed Brain too much. But every passion has to have a framework of sustainability. Everything you seek to occupy your time must produce resources to allow you to continue along that path, unless you already have resources to sustain it.
If you want to spend most of your days crocheting, and you don’t have a recurring revenue stream of some sort to sustain it, then perhaps selling your creations is a way to sustain it so that you can continue crocheting.
If you want to ride and be around horses more than anything, then you’ll need to find a way to sustain that desire so that you can be around them as much as possible.
No matter what you do, it has to have a framework of sustainability. This is thinking like an entrepreneur. If I never nurtured the business side of my show to make an income, the show would disappear along with my ability to reach people and share my message. It could not be sustained.
In the beginning, I drew from my own savings account every month, hoping something else would happen to keep the show running. But I soon realized that there were too many variables and expenses to keep something like this going. That’s when I decided to start coaching again and create workbooks and other products so that the income could sustain the journey.
Sometimes you have to create the income to sustain the journey!
Your passion can become your living, so a vital step in that process is to find ways to create a paycheck from what you’re passionate about.
In this conversation with Mike, I am once again vulnerable to the world. I never talk about the business side of The Overwhelmed Brain so I do feel a little exposed talking about it. But business is part of life, it’s part of the growing we all need to do to be productive.
And Mike approaches the subject from a human, emotional point of view which is why I went on his show in the first place. After all, there are people out there who want to do something more with their life. Maybe they’ve tried to be an entrepreneur in the past, but it didn’t work out. Or maybe they’re happy in the 9 to 5 world, but know they could have so much more – whether that’s getting a promotion or a new position in another department, or even moving to another company.
Regardless of your status in whatever business you’re in or passion you follow, you’re sure to get something from this episode. I decided to follow a passion and create a business from that pursuit, therefore people will call me an entrepreneur.
There were roadblocks along the path to where I got today, just like there were for you to get where you are now. I hope you enjoy our talk about the emotional challenges that come along with creating a business and reaching your potential in whatever you do.
(Interview with Mike Sutton of the Be, Build, Have podcast is available by playing this episode – it has not been transcribed)
Probably one of the most important lessons from today’s episode is the fact that the more personable and authentic you are, the more people enjoy being around you, both in business and in life in general.
Just like that job interview I had. I was under-qualified for that job, and I was up against someone that had a lot more skills than I had, but just because I was down to earth and honest, they chose me.
Sure, they wanted someone that was nice, that’s a plus. And, of course, I was trainable, as we all are, so that’s another plus. But really, what’s the overall reason they chose me?
The reason was because it was more important to like the person they worked with than tolerate them. How many times have you worked with or for someone who could absolutely do the job, but was a true pain in the butt to be around?
I worked with a project manager once who knew he was superior to anyone who didn’t have the word, “manager” in his or her title. He didn’t mind putting you down or getting angry with you. He was extremely difficult to work with.
I’ll take an honest, authentic person over a highly skilled jerk co-worker any day. Of course, highly skilled jerks have their place. I mean, sometimes those people work in the back room of a company and never interact with people. Some of them work on machines and don’t have to work in the public eye. So there’s a place for everyone.
Sometimes you rather not be with people, so you get a job that takes you away from them. My point is, what stops you from growing and succeeding in business is usually related to emotional challenges today that originated in the past.
If you get can get beyond those emotional challenges, your business results will soar, on top of your personal growth. I remember when I started honoring my boundaries at work. It was the best decision both professionally and personally.
On a professional level, I gained respect from my superiors, and admiration from my co-workers (not that I was looking for admiration). And on a personal level, I felt more confident in almost everything I set out to do.
So if you find personal fears holding you back from business decisions, then it’s time to be a bit vulnerable, create that safe zone so that you can express yourself, and break down some of the barriers that are stopping you from being as successful, both in business and in life, as you deserve to be.
Well, I gotta tell you, Mike really stretched my brain in this episode. I never thought about tying some of the events in my life together, and viewing them from that perspective. I gained some insights because of his questions. That’s what I love about talking to people. I love when people challenge me and force me to think in ways I don’t typically do so that I can really explore the truths inside me.
When you are challenged, be grateful you are given an opportunity to learn a bit more about yourself. After all, with no challenges, you are done. You don’t want to be done, you want to live and thrive. You thrive by continually learning and developing yourself.
Done is, well, done. You don’t want to be done. Sure, you may want more peace in your life, and for the challenges to be easier, but you also want enough adversity to remind you that you are unique and powerful. Challenges are reminders of just how resilient and brilliant you are, because you’re still here! You’ve made it this far, even after all you’ve been through. That’s a pretty darn good accomplishment if you ask me.
So now I want you to step into your power and be firm in your decisions and actions, so that you can create the life you want. When you do this, you’ll discover what I already know to be true about you, that you are amazing.
Wow! This week’s show really hit the spot, and provides some great insight for those of us who are new to the podcast game. I too have struggled with the idea of eventually monetizing my site (well, I have to get an audience first), as I don’t want others to think I’m just out to make a buck. On the other hand, I do want to turn it into an income-producing venture at some point. Affiliate marketing is a great path for those of us who aren’t the stereotypical sales person, because it’s a much more passive experience for the reader/listener and provides a way for them to support your project by doing what they already do.
I think you’re also spot-on when it comes to comparing ourselves to others. The blogosphere is huge, and who knows why some sites take off right out of the gate while others take months or years to catch on? I think it’s all about persistence and a firm belief in what you do through good times and bad. A true passion is the key to longevity at anything. Sometimes it’s difficult to get back “in the zone” and recapture that “new-car smell”, but I’ve found that the projects I really enjoy are the ones I keep going with despite the challenges. We all come from different backgrounds and perspectives, and the beauty of it is that we all have something unique to offer if we’re willing to. Thank you Paul!
Wow, I couldn’t have worded this any better. Excellent comment! The most important lesson in all of this for me has been that the most important path to success has been to bring as much value as I can to others. Don’t approach wanting from others, approach as a giver.
Thank you for sharing this!
You make a great point Paul! As the old saying goes, it is better to give than to receive, and true giving comes from the heart. I admire your willingness to open yourself to your listeners and be genuine. So many people are content just to point out problems, so it’s refreshing to find those who go the extra step and offer tangible solutions. That’s where the real value is, and you do it very well! The beauty of this medium is that it offers anyone who makes a commitment the opportunity to give of themselves and learn so much along the way. Thank you for your commitment!
Thank you Dan, that means a lot. I appreciate you!