There could be a battle raging in your ‘shadow side’ subconsciously getting in the way
So, once again you didn’t reach your year-end sales goals. You found out the competitor shop down the street had a banner year, yet you barely survived. You felt strongly about the merchandise you ordered, displayed it with care. You spent more on advertising than ever; had a hard-working team and even provided fresh-baked cookies and hot apple cider to warmly welcome customers.
Now, you’re cutting corners and cancelling first quarter orders right and left. The stress is affecting your sleep, even trickling into your dreams. You’re dragging yourself to work each day, dreading opening your doors and looking forward to drowning your sorrows at happy hour. Sucks doesn’t it? So, let’s step away from the pity party and take a good look at why.
Spoiler alert: This article is not about giving sales advice or goal setting techniques. It’s going to dig deep, get into those subconscious parts that might be sabotaging you from receiving. Get that shovel ready, okay? Let’s start by telling you why I’m a reluctant expert in this topic.
True confession: I failed. Yes, that’s right. Failed miserably (and honestly was pretty miserable) every single day while owning my shop. Never knew what the heck I was doing. Always felt like success was just around the corner but it never reached my end of the block. Hired retail business consultants, budget specialists and accountants. Was active in the community. Held events and offered classes. Posted on every social media platform. Prayed, affirmed, creative visualized. Worked tirelessly, sixteen-hour days, rarely had a day off.
Blamed anything and everything: The economy; our location; online shopping; employees; fengshui; the planets; even my mother.
Did everything “right,” yet just couldn’t attain that allusive thing called Success. For. Twenty. One. Grueling. Years. They say the best advice comes from someone who’s been there, done that, so, in hindsight, I figured out a few things.
First, the more I learn about life and business, the more I see that everything is a battle against our “inner negative voices” rather than external obstacles. It’s not your parents, society, the government, your age, your lack of time, your spouse, your website, where your shop is located, the economy, the weather. The list goes on. Honestly, it’s not anything “out there.
It’s so easy to blame somebody or something. It’s a default mechanism; we all do it all the time. The problem is, the moment you choose to do that, you go into “victim mode” and hand over your power. Truth is, wherever you are in life right now is because of nobody but you. Every single choice you made, consciously or subconsciously, is all due to your unrecognized, hidden dark side.
Let me be clear. It’s not about needing to blame yourself, feel like a bad human, spend years in therapy sobbing guilt-ridden tears. Undoubtedly, you weren’t consciously making any of those choices. Let’s use the word responsible rather than blame so we can get past some of the remorse.
Before I go further, here’s my definition of dark side: The negative thoughts that creep in whenever you’re doing something, or about to do something positive; the doubts and fears that show up right before you’re about to succeed; those false notions you believe about yourself no matter what the rest of the world thinks; the sabotaging thoughts that arrive right after you attain a goal, convincing yourself it won’t last; even the physical events or “accidents” that often occur shortly after a big shot of success. They’re all you.
As soon as you dream big with your life, make plans to change things in a positive direction, those negative thoughts arrive and give you dozens of reasons why you can’t do it. “Well, you know you tried this before and it didn’t work;” or “Your Dad was in business for himself and that sure failed;” or “Don’t you know how many small shops nosedive every year? Forget about it!”
Those voices can be self-deprecating, sounding a whole lot like a particular parent: “You’re way too stupid to be successful!” or “Don’t you remember how disorganized you always were? How could you possibly expect to run a shop?” or “Your sister’s the one with business sense, not you.”
The problem with the dark side is that it never aligns with your choice of a possible future. It’s like choosing to binge on an entire box of cookies when you’re trying to lose ten pounds.
Self-sabotage slinks in through an open door like a snake, tempting you with an apple that promises safety and security, but delivers neither. Sadly, what it does deliver is pain, loss and repeated failure because that one choice becomes an automatic choice.
Then, you wake up years later, wondering why your life isn’t what you’d hoped for. You say, “Gosh, I knew I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up–owning a shop never works!” Or, more commonly, “If only it wasn’t for , it all would’ve worked out!”
Next, let’s talk about deservingness, the darkest dark side culprit and also the one hardest to admit. Rule of thumb: People receive only what they believe they deserve. You read that right. When things aren’t going how you want, and you’re feeling victimized, you’re actually being imprisoned by false beliefs that say you don’t deserve. They are literally the armed guards to receiving. Rather than admitting to those deeply held notions, you get angry, bitter and may even plan revenge, ways to show the world how wronged you were.
The only way out of this cycle is to take a deep look at your “deservingness level.” How? By noticing how quickly you subconsciously sabotage whenever things start to improve. If you ever happen to step out of wherever your comfortable deservingness level is, the deservingness monster starts breathing down your neck and, wham, whatever you just accomplished goes awry. Good example: Look at statistics showing how quickly people squander windfalls such as big lottery winnings. You have met the enemy and the enemy is what you believe you (don’t) deserve. Here are four words of wisdom to get past feeling victimized: Face the deservingness monster.
The truth is, your dark side is your best teacher. If you stop dodging and just sit quietly with it, it will tell you everything you need to know about yourself. It may tell you that you need to clean up your life in some way. It may trigger you to remember past times you made choices based on fear and decided you weren’t deserving.
On a Higher Consciousness level, choosing to be an entrepreneur was a perfect way to catalyze self-growth. Why? It challenges you every single day to face your dark side, admit your deepest fears and grow into a better person. Now that you understand the lesson, how can you apply this to your life right now and make positive change minus self-sabotage?
Repeat: The first step is to face your dark side. Be brutally honest with yourself. Go to the places in your mind that you’ve been too afraid to explore. Ask yourself if you’re truly happy with your life and who you are. What fears are running the show, really? The rawer the truth you admit, the bigger the resulting transformation. Here are some suggested questions to help you discover and embrace your dark side:
Do you really care? Are you really hungry to succeed? Are you coming from knowing that trying again is not an option, that your goal means the world to you. If you aren’t convinced of this, or are lying to yourself about your motives, you might be in the wrong business. Inspiration comes through, and your customers can tell if you’re just going through the motions.
Are you coming from a sense of entitlement? The world doesn’t owe you success; customers are not obligated to purchase from you; the economy is not out to get you. During times when things look bleak, notice who or what you get angry at or instantly blame. We live in a completely friendly, supportive universe, but perhaps that support isn’t showing up how you think it should look.
Have you given up? During slow periods, when you’re exhausted, or during economic downturns, you may give up mentally. The Universe always says “Yes!” so if part of you is saying “I’m done; I can’t do this anymore; I’m outa here,” the Universe says, yes and will support you in those thoughts.
Are you truly serving others? When you come from compassion, genuinely wanting to do give value, inspiring others be successful, support shows up. Are you an authentic example of hope, integrity, activism? Keep in mind the unbendable law of cause and effect: Cheating others always creates a karmic retribution.
Are you constantly evolving? Are you trying, giving your all, working on your shop, wanting to fulfill customers’ needs? This sends out a message that you’re growing. If you’re calling it in, stuck in the past, ordering the same merchandise over and over, customers and the universe know it.
Are you loving what you do? The adage “you can’t sell what you don’t believe in” is true. Again, energetically, if you don’t feel 100% about what you are offering others, the message is loud and clear.
Are you seeing the bigger picture? Being motivated by something other than yourself keeps you accountable and is another strong message to the universe. Whether it be spouse, family, society, the planet or a cause you champion, what a great example of expanded energy.
Are you delivering your best? If you haven’t put in the work to create a beautiful shop, selling unique products and providing impeccable customer service, all of the above steps are meaningless.
Are you being authentic? Take off your Shop Owner Mask and expose the real you to customers. Display your battle scars proudly. Cry in front of people if you need to. There’s nowhere to hide nor should you be trying to. Being real creates real connection and it’s therapeutic for you as well as customers. They come back for that.
As you ponder the above as an inner journey, here’s a list of tangible things to do starting right now:
Define What You Want
Spend some time by yourself and figure out what you really want with your life. Dream big and create your mental picture with as much detail as possible. Let it feel possible and real, even for a moment.
Suspend Your Disbelief
As soon as you start dreaming big, the negative voices probably start giving reasons why you can’t, shouldn’t, mustn’t do it. Notice those dark side messages, thank them for sharing, but don’t buy into what they tell you because they are just lies.
Take Action – Big or Small
As you do the above, pay attention to the resistance, the fear-based thoughts that go through your head when you’re faced with your big dreams. Don’t hide from the feedback; let it be your guide. What do you need to admit about yourself from hearing those thoughts? Sometimes just admitting fears can allow you to see how ridiculous and illogical they are. Remember: Fear=False Evidence Appearing Real. That’s all.
Make a Plan
Be detailed but open to shifting direction when necessary. Use tools such as vision boards to help you make it more real to your subconscious mind.
Who’s Saying NO?
You may hear negativity and doubts by others since it’s a standard human default answer. If it brings up feelings of defeat, realize that they are just reflecting your own “no’s”, so challenge yourself to find the way to yes. Become bigger and badder than that two-letter word.
Ask Yourself – Am I inventing things to do to avoid my plan? What fears, and false beliefs are getting in the way? Why do I feel undeserving of success? Who or what am I blaming? Whatever your inner procrastinator is pulling you away from, use as a compass to guide you toward seeing and admitting your dark side. You deserve to get there!