Podcast Ep 319 - Running a Photography Business with Anxiety

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In this episode of the Flourish Academy podcast, host Heather Lahtinen and her friend Michelle Crandall talk about running a business while dealing with anxiety. Heather shares her experiences as a photographer and entrepreneur, while Michelle gives tips on managing anxious thoughts. They discuss how to reframe anxiety, understand cognitive distortions, and use strategies to overcome them.

This episode provides helpful advice for turning anxiety into empowerment and navigating the challenges of being an entrepreneur.

Show Notes:

  • Techniques for recognizing and addressing anxious thoughts.
  • Impact of anxiety on running a business.
  • Importance of mindset shifts in managing anxiety and business challenges.
  • Personal stories about medication's effectiveness.
  • Reducing stigma around mental health and seeking help.
  • The Eight Cognitive Distortions: labeling and judging, black-and-white thinking, overgeneralization, mind reading, personalization, catastrophizing, should statements, emotional reasoning.
  • Strategies for challenging and reframing anxious thoughts.

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Heather Lahtinen: WebsiteFacebookInstagram

Michelle Crandall: https://www.petsinfocusphoto.com/


You're listening to the Flourish Academy podcast, and today we are talking about how to run a business with anxiety. My name is Heather Lahtinen. I'm a photographer,educator, and entrepreneur, and I founded the Flourish Academy as a resource for photographers of all levels. We want to help you pursue your passion on your own terms because we believe there is room for everyone.

In this podcast, we focus on creating breakthroughs with your mindset to discover the things that are really holding you back in business and life. I previously did a series on anxiety,

starting with episode 277, and it was fantastic and very well received. If you did not catch that series and you have anxious thoughts,

it's really worth going back and listening to. But today, I have my good friend, Michelle Crandall with me again to talk about this subject. Hey,

Michelle, how well -versed are you with anxiety? Well, Heather, thank you for having me back. I don't consider myself an expert in too many things,

but anxiety, I absolutely consider myself an expert in. That's fantastic. How long have you maybe struggled with anxious thoughts. Do you remember when they first started coming around?

How did you identify it, et cetera? Yeah. I have struggled with anxious thoughts for a long time. I was officially like medically diagnosed with anxiety when I was about 16.

And up until I started working with you and learning things through elevate, I didn't really realize how much I identified as anxiety,

just as a person with anxiety, instead of separating, separating that out to like, those are anxious thoughts, but this is not who I am. Yeah.

And that was such an important thing to, you know, to look at. Yeah, because we tend to say things like, I have anxiety or I'm a very anxious person,

my daughter says this, and I said, hey, you just need to separate out. You are not your thoughts. So don't say things like, I am anxiety. Then because it's your identity,

you know, or I have anxiety. It's, I am the type of person who tends to have anxious thoughts. And that's okay, because we can look at them and maybe acknowledge them for what they are,

which are thoughts that your brain produces that are actually not you and not from you. And this separation is key because, well, you tell me,

did you find that it gave you a little bit of relief? Yes. It gave me the space that I needed to look at what was actually happening and make an adult judgment on whether or not I wanted that to happen.

Oh, interesting. Yeah. When you're, you know, when you get this diagnosis of anxiety, it almost puts you like two steps behind everybody else, right? Sometimes you can think,

well, I could have a six figure business, but I have anxiety. So I probably can't do that. But when you separate it out, like I'm having anxious thoughts today,

but that is not who I am and that is not the adult me. It makes a big difference. It makes it more, do you think, temporary and manageable?

Like it's not this like constant lifelong, this is who I am? Yeah. Almost like, and I hesitate to use the strong word disability because,

you know, disability means different things to a lot of different people. But when you come at it from this point of this is me for the rest of my life,

it kind of puts you on your heels in like a little bit of a hopeless position. At least that was my experience with it. And then when you separate it out and you realize like it does not have to be this way.

I can actually control what's going on. Because truthfully, that's what anxiety is all about, right, Heather? Like you want to control everything. So when you have this moment where you're like,

oh, my gosh, I actually can control these thoughts or even if I can't control them because they're automatic negative thoughts or whatever, I can recognize them for what they are and step back from it.

Man, that's the good stuff. That is key. I mean, I think it's life changing because it goes from I'm a victim to my anxiety. You switch from that to I'm empowered to acknowledge those thoughts.

They're automatic. They're not for me. And do something about them and change them instead of just like, well, okay, I guess this just sucks. Right. Who I am.

Yeah. And there are a lot of people that are stuck there. And I used to be one of them. And it's okay to be there, but you need to pull yourself out of it.

Sometimes that requires medication, and that's also more than okay, because that gets, it's almost like a kickstart to the process. Yes. And then you can learn to manage it on your own.

Yeah. You know what's funny is like, not funny, like, ha ha, ironic is that I was so anti -anxiety, meaning I don't have that. I don't have that problem.

That's not me. That's not me. That I was like neck deep in it and I didn't even know because I was in denial that it was like that's not something that affects me. I didn't realize that this was a thing for me until very recently.

Probably, I don't know, maybe the last couple of years. I've been working with a therapist for a while, but when I really got into coaching, so maybe two years, I realized,

whoa, whoa, whoa, I actually do have this challenge. And I don't know, I don't know why I was resisting it. I don't know. But, oh,

I have some insight on that. Oh, tell me. Not from you specifically from my experience as a psych nurse. The stigma of mental illness is freaking huge.

And so even admitting to somebody that you have anxiety or you have depression, it's like, oh, a lot of people still believe, well, you're less than, well, you're just not trying hard enough.

You know, it's the same with like weight loss. If somebody is overweight, well, it's obviously, it's a, it's an issue with you. You're morally a bad person because you can't stop eating pizza or whatever it is,

you know, and there's this stigma out there. And so If you just don't have it at all, you don't have to worry about it. It's fine. Oh, my gosh. I didn't realize that till just now, but you're so right. That's exactly what it was. I felt like it was a stigma and I was embarrassed,

but not, not like consciously. I wasn't thinking, oh, I'm not going to admit this to anyone. I honestly didn't think I had a problem with it. And then when I started to see, well, wait a minute, well, then what's that thought about?

Or this one. I started to sense it. And then, And then I had to really get in this mode of like allowing myself to be vulnerable enough to admit it and to say,

okay, well, I have anxious thoughts. And part of it really was like to lessen the stigma. I wanted to inspire people that you can have a business. You can run a business.

You can be a high functioning person with these anxious thoughts. And like, And like, it's exciting to think I can also manage them. Like I can manage my mind.

This is just mind management, but not, not feel embarrassed when I can't. Like, I can't get a hold of it. Right. Yeah. And I think that's the big thing, you know, especially when it goes as far as you're in the psychiatrist's office and you're getting medications.

Not everybody. Actually, I would venture to say nobody, nobody can think yourself out of anxiety when you're in that spot that you can't see anything else.

Yes. And so I want to make it clear that medications to start the process of treating anxiety does not make you a less person. It doesn't make you terrible.

It doesn't mean that this is going to be forever. What it means is this is going to jumpstart your journey. And And even the thought of maybe I can get a handle on this,

even that thought is going to provide a teeny tiny light at the end of the tunnel. And that's what you're looking for. And if it takes medications to get there, so be it. It doesn't mean that it's going to be the rest of your life.

That's great. I hope that that's really inspiring for people who are listening that need that jumpstart. It kind of reminds me, tell me if I'm tracking of pain management. It's like if you have chronic pain,

you have to break that cycle so that you can start to heal. Right. Yeah, that's exactly it. When you're in the hospital and you just get a knee replacement, even if your pain isn't a nine out of 10,

we're still going to give you pain medications because we don't want it to get to be a 10 out of a 10. And then we can't get a handle on it. It's a similar situation with anxiety and depression. Yeah,

my mom recently had surgery. Well, it was a couple years ago and she does not like taking pain medication so she didn't want to do it, but she was spiraling down. And I said, mom, you have to break the cycle.

You have to break that pain cycle. So jump started with some medication and you, you know, we're not suggesting that you have to take this forever, but it will help you. It will help you break out.

We of a friend, a mutual friend who recently got started on some medications and it made a world of difference for her. Once she broke out, she could not even see past,

you know, like an inch in front of her face. It was just so debilitating. She got on the medication. She now has hope and she's really turned things around, which is exciting. Yeah. And not everybody will need the medication,

But I just want to make it so clear that there's no drama. There's no shame in taking that extra step. Right. So I want to talk a little bit about how this plays out for us as entrepreneurs in business or photographers.

Maybe they don't even identify yet as entrepreneurs, but they're starting their journey and they're like, well, I have all of these thoughts. I think all of these things and it's difficult to be an entrepreneur. And I say no to that.

I think you just need some tools. You just need to understand. So I want to first have us share, before we get into some examples, this issue of cognitive distortions.

And cognitive distortions are internal mental filters or biases that increase our misery, fuel our anxiety, and generally make us feel bad about ourselves.

So cognitive, it's just your mental activities, and distortion is the act of twisting or altering something out of its true, natural,

or original state. So therefore, cognitive distortions are thoughts that cause us to perceive reality inaccurately. And I just think that if you're a person,

if you are alive, you have cognitive distortions. If you are a human being, listen up. Wait, me, am I thinking cognitively? Maybe not. But I bet you are.

And my experience has shown that people who tend to have anxious thoughts suffer more from these distortions. And in a second, I want you to share these. But first, I wanted to tell you,

this is not in our notes or part of the plan. But I just started reading this book called The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. And I'm sure we're going to be talking about this in the future.

But one of his key ideas is discipline in perception. Having discipline to see things as they really are rather than suffering from distortions about reality.

So the difference is we tend to perceive reality inaccurately when we have anxious thoughts. And he's talking about having discipline in perception and just catching,

oh, I'm not seeing this clearly. I'm seeing it through the lens of anxiety when actually, okay, so we'll come back to that at some point. But would you mind sharing with us the eight cognitive distortions.

Sure. Yeah. There are eight of them. I believe you've done when you did your anxiety series. You did an episode on each one of these. I did. Yeah. So the first one is labeling and judging.

Then we have black and white thinking. Oh, like I also. I also excel at that. Overgeneralization is the third. And we have mind reading,

which I also am really good at. Yeah. Uh, personalization, catastrophizing, which you and I both excel at. That's my, that's my number one.

Like, I'm a certified genius in catastrophizing. I agree. Uh, the last two are should statements and then emotional reasoning.

Okay. So these eight, ten, we can categorize our anxious thoughts in these eight. So what I thought we could do is maybe share some examples of how this plays out in business and then categorize them.

So for instance, if you deliver photos to a client and you don't hear from them, yes. What does your brain do?

What does it offer? Oh my goodness, do I do some mind reading? My goodness, I jump into their thoughts. And, you know, of course, everything is terrible.

They can't believe that this is their gallery. It's so stupid. I cannot believe I wasted money hiring this photographer. She's terrible. And then for me, it goes into this. Well, now I'm a terrible human being.

Oh, right. Yeah. I go right off the cliff. Probably pretty quickly, right? Absolutely. Yeah. What is the longest amount of time you've had to wait from when you delivered a gallery to a client,

like contacting you or saying something? Oh, some of them actually never even do. Yeah. Yeah. And it's, you just wonder, like,

okay, I see that you downloaded your pictures and now we're just done. It's so funny. That's why I actually switched to a more in -person sort of thing,

because I need to see their joy in their face when they're looking at these photos. And it's always joy.

It's never what my brain was telling me it was. It never has been. But that's immediately where my brain goes. And it's all about protection, right your brain is trying to protect you from getting kicked out of the tribe getting kicked out of the community and so that's that's what it comes up with to protect you but that's not true no it's not true but it happens quickly yes automatically which by the way when

something happens like that quickly and automatically you have to almost assume it's coming from an anxious place especially I mean, if it's negative, you know, if it's something negative, which means you could catch it right away,

if you could have that discipline and be like, well, that's not true because it happened quickly, which means it was automatic. But this is, so in terms of a cognitive distortion, this is mind reading.

You take it personal because you're like, they hate me. They hate my soul. And you catastrophize in that, you know, you are a morally person you are inept right you you are everything that's wrong with the industry exactly i am single -handedly bringing down the pet photography right right every person in the world and you're ruining it because somebody did not reply to your gallery release right it's just you know this

is insanity it when you're looking at it outside it it is When you're looking at the anxious thoughts instead of sitting in your anxiety, yes,

it is ridiculous. But when you're in it, whew, you can really spiral quickly. Yeah, it seems like, well, this has to be true. This is just actually true. I had a client once that I didn't hear from a wedding and I was certain she hated me,

her photos, everything about it. It was like a really beautiful high end affair. And a year later, she calls me and she's like, I wanted to talk about ordering an album.

And she's like, you know, we never got back to you, but we loved our photos. You were amazing to work with. Everything was awesome. And in my head, I'm like, you could have told me this a year ago.

Right. I've been sitting for a year about your photos. Yeah. Oh, But how many times, Heather, have you told me if you're going to make up a story, make it a good one?

If you're going to lie to yourself, why not lie in a way that serves you? Well, okay, then in this case, what's the solution here? You don't hear from a client.

What would you recommend? Yeah, I would recommend examining your thoughts, just like your book was talking about, being very obvious about looking at every single thought that you have and deciding whether or not it's even true,

right? Can you prove it in a court of law? Yeah, that they don't like their photos. Of course not. They didn't say anything. Of course. They didn't say anything. So how do you know they hated their photos?

Right. She loved them. Yes. But just because she didn't obviously tell you that in the first year, all of the sudden your brain goes to this place of and,

you know, it's really interesting. So it goes to this place of everything is terrible and the whole wedding sucked and she thinks that I'm a terrible person. And that is again based in this fear and these anxious thoughts of maybe,

correct me if I'm wrong, now Nobody's going to hire me. I'm going to lose my business and I'm going to end up homeless. Yeah. In a ditch. In a ditch on the side of the road. We won't have food or money or even shelter because someone didn't reply to me.

Exactly. Exactly. And this is not, you know, like we're joking about it. But when you're in the moment, it's it can be paralyzing. It's very real. Yeah. It feels awful.

So could we maybe establish a protocol that says, if I don't hear from a client, no matter what my brain offers, I'm going to assume that they love me and they love their photos.

Because if we don't have the actual truth, meaning they didn't reply. Right. Then why not make up a story that says, oh my gosh, they think I'm amazing. They love me. They love their photos and just go on with our day.

Why is that so much harder? Because your brain is trying to protect you from getting kicked out. Yeah. Always the same. Yep.

Always the same. I am so mad at my brain most of the time. On a regular basis. Yeah. On a regular basis. Because it's doing this stuff.

And for so many years, Heather, I believed everything it said. Yeah. I believed every thought I had. So when you start to, it's like this eye -opening moment where you start to question the thoughts that come,

you know, it takes you a minute to kind of figure out how to react to that. And in this situation, I have a situation going on exactly like this right now. I've got two out of three of a puppy session done,

and the woman won't respond to my email. Okay. Well, does she think I'm terrible? Does she hate the other two photos? Does she hate sessions? Does she hate everything? Does she think I'm stupid? Did she find another photographer to finish it out?

Like, that's all the stuff that's going through my mind. The truth is my email probably went to spam. Yeah. You know, she doesn't even seen it. She didn't even see it.

Yeah. So I call her, you know, whatever. I'll work it out. But all of that stuff, I know this woman likes me. I know she likes me. And the automatic negative stuff still comes in.

And it's just, I don't know if it's habit, if it's, I think it's a little bit of a habit. And I think it's just the biology of the brain. Yeah. I think you're right. Yeah. So you have to take an active role in in thinking your thoughts where you said earlier like you used to believe all of them everyone I coach around anxiety says the same thing I just believed them and so I always say could you just question

your like don't believe everything you think because again if it's automatic it's probably not worth thinking or believing it but you have to be an active participant here and say I know this one loves me of course.

She probably just went to spam or how do you know she didn't break her leg and she's like maybe she's in the hospital. Right. Hopefully that's not the case, but it could be. I mean, maybe her. Doesn't have anything to do with me.

Yeah, it has nothing to do with you. Her computer broke. Her phone fell in a lake and she has no way to even get her email or like we're going to Alaska in a few weeks and, you know, we will be off the grid.

So you won't be able to get in touch with me and I certainly wouldn't. I mean, okay, flip the perspective. Would you want somebody thinking that about you? Meaning like, I'm going to be off the grid in Alaska.

I would never want you worrying that I didn't like you. Right. Exactly. I would say, why would you think that before you left?

We were on good terms. Right. Right. Right. Yeah. Yeah. So what has changed. The only thing that has changed is your perception of the situation, your thoughts about the situation.

Yes. For eight months, this woman tags me on Facebook. She loves her photos. She says, look at this great photo that Michelle took. I love my dog. One email she doesn't respond to.

And then all of a sudden, oh my gosh, she thinks I'm a terrible human being. Right. Right. It doesn't make sense. It's laughable. Yes, it is. So if it's laughable,

it's probably not true. Yeah. Okay, let's go on to another one. Sure. Common one that I hear from photographers is they are worried that somebody will say,

who does she think she is? Which is, let's answer the question. What the brain is really saying there is she's an idiot or she's stupid she shouldn't be doing she shouldn't be doing this whether that's promoting your photography business or charging what you charge or whatever it is when you ask yourself oh or you say I'm worried people are going to say who does she think she is it's not a question your brain is

actually making a statement there that says you don't deserve to do this you shouldn't be doing this where would you place this in terms of anxiety or these distortions you know i would put it probably in the judging category labeling judging category with a little bit of emotional reasoning we love to judge ourselves and what we think other people are thinking yes so maybe there's some mind reading in there too.

Sure. Yeah. Yeah. I, you know, when people say that to me, like in our coaching calls, you know, who do I think I am saying that I'm a photographer? You know,

I was right there two years ago, right? Like I didn't say that I didn't tell people I was a photographer. I said, I used to be a nurse. And now I do pet photography. Yes. You know,

and so it's all about you judging yourself, but you have no idea how these other people are actually thinking or feeling. No. And so this is your anxious thoughts.

This is your anxiety coming out. And it's not even true. And it's just trying to hold you back. Now, again, it's your brain trying to protect you because it doesn't want you to be embarrassed,

right? Yes. Embarrassment is like this primal fear. It's very scary. It definitely means you're getting kicked out of the community. Everybody's talking about you. You're a terrible person.

It's really effective at its job, which is to hold you back. That's it. Do you think this is also like a projection thing where you have a concern like,

oh, who do I think I am? That it's actually, like inwardly you're thinking that. So you project it outwardly that other people must be thinking it. Absolutely.

You come up with the worst case scenario and you implant that into somebody else's brain. And so now it's like, well, so and so must think that I am an idiot. Because I think I'm an idiot.

Right. Because my subconscious is telling me I'm an idiot. So I must be. Right. That's not true. No. It's just not true. Okay. What about when people say things like,

well, I have to either sell digital files, being an all -inclusive photographer, or I have to do in -person sales, iPS, or something like,

I have to market my business on social media or I won't get clients. This to me, when I hear these things, I'm in the like black and white thinking category. what are your thoughts yeah i agree with you that's a lot of black and white thinking right there and the truth is um none of it is going to be 100 percent it's got to be this multifaceted approach where you figure out what works best for you because what

works for me it does not work for you what works for you does not work for me even if we're in in exactly the same scenario. You know, our personalities come into it. Our styles come into it.

Just the way we interact comes into it and it changes the outcome. And so if somebody says my, you know, everything that I do, the only marketing that I do is all on social media.

I'm like, well, that's not going to work out for you. It doesn't matter if you have 100 ,000 followers. It doesn't matter Because you need more than just one thing.

So it's not yes or no, black or white. This is going to work or it's not. Some things, even in your failures, something worked there.

You know, like recent mini sessions that I did. I didn't have as many clients as I wanted to. But some people showed up. So I did something right. Yeah. I got a couple of new clients.

So that's new and that's exciting. So some part of it did good. Some part of it was correct. So it's not this black and white thinking like, oh, the mini session was a failure because I didn't have as many clients as I wanted.

It wasn't. There were some things that did work. But, you know, I love to do black and white thinking. Yeah. Would you have previously like old Michelle had said,

well, that didn't work. 100%. Yeah, me too. I believe three weeks ago, Michelle said that. Oh, my gosh. As Michelle was in like early this month. Yeah,

same. I did something similar where one person signed up and I was like hoping for 20. And I thought, well, that didn't work. Yeah. Either it worked or it did not work,

Michelle. Right. Yeah. And it's just not the case. Yeah. It's just not the case. Something worked or else you wouldn't have had the one person. My coach catches me in this black and white either or thinking on a regular basis.

And I am telling you, I don't see it until she says, well, that sounds like black or white thinking. And then it kind of smacks me in the face. And I'm like, oh my gosh, that's exactly what I'm doing.

I do this a lot. Well, I wonder, you know, we've talked on so many previous episodes about the model and the circumstance and thoughts and feelings, actions and results. I wonder if you're putting the thought that this didn't work as the circumstance.

Yes, yes. Like, that's just how it is. I'm telling you, I'm reporting the news. This is exactly what happened. And then you'll say, really? could you prove that in a court of law?

Right. Yeah. And then you'd put your face in your hands, be like, stop coaching me. Stop using my own stuff against me, Michelle. Yeah, you do that a lot. And it's hilarious to me because I do put my face in my hand and I'm like,

for real, Heather, for real. You teach this stuff. How do you not see it? That's why I think it's so important to have some friends that understand this or a group like Elevate or a coach that gets it because I promise you,

I am very well versed in these things and I still do it. And I think that's such an important point, right? When I started this whole process, working with you in coaching and getting into elevate and even as far as starting my business,

one day I will be done. Okay. Like my anxiety will be gone. I'll have a hold on it. Yep. You know, and at the risk of sounding a little cheesy,

Nike says there is no finish line, right? There is no finish line to this stuff. And so you can either take that and be like, okay, I can get a handle on this and I can continue to work through this.

And I know that I can do this. Or you can look at it's never over and get a little disheartened. Oh, good point. So we are not,

we as a group, like entrepreneurs generally are not quitters. Right. We're not going to quit stuff. We're going to keep doing it because we're determined to make it work. You're never going to just quit on yourself.

I don't think. Most of us here, I'm not going to quit on myself. And that took me also working with my coach to kind of realize that like I'm not going to quit trying to make myself a better human being right it's never done it's never it's never done trying to make my business better trying to figure this out you know sometimes I can get disheartened though Heather when like you know I see other people who have

less time in the game and they're you know way ahead of me and so it is kind of I don't know it's kind of disheartening so I don't know. What are you going to do? You can coach me on that? I mean,

no, I agree with you. Sometimes I think that as well. And I'm like, well, I often thought, you know, I wanted to get a point. This is like with my task list as well in business.

Like I wanted to get to a point where it's done. Yeah. And anxiety is kicked. And I'm just like perfectly happy all the time and making a million dollars.

Like I'm delusional. I think you have to accept that this is a journey and you might get more adept at picking up on it and you might get faster at resolving it.

But it will never end because every week I talk to my coach and I miss something and she's like, oh, it sounds like you're overgeneralizing. You think it's always this way or you're personal.

I take a lot of things personally or at least I used to. I'm definitely getting better about that. Like, if you don't like a training I put on, I used to think, okay, she hates my soul,

you know, like, right. Yeah, I have a black heart and, you know, it's just awful. And now I'm better at like, I'm, you know, I put things out there to help people and how they receive it.

But I want to tell you the story. This is like, because I like to talk about business and personal, because this obviously fans, all of that. So a couple of weeks ago, my finger started,

my ring finger and my right hand started to go numb. And it was like, it was like a little bit at first. And I was like, was I holding it funny? Or, you know, we're of that age. I am. Weird things,

just weird things start to happen. So it was a little bit numb. And I was like messing with it. And I noticed at the, at the base of my finger, at the very bottom on the inside, it was like starting to get really black and blue.

And I'm talking like by the second, it was swelling and getting more blue and black. So I'm like, well, it's bleeding inside. And, and then it really started to hurt.

I'm like holding it all different ways. Like, you know, maybe my heart needs to pump more blood to my ring finger. Better take that ring off. That's the first thing I think off. Yeah. And then I showed my mom.

And I'm like, look at my finger. And she said, oh my gosh, what did you do? Did you hurt it? I'm like, I did nothing. I don't know what I did. And then here's when my brain went. I was like, what am I going to be able to hold a camera?

Like, what am I going to do when they have to amputate my finger? And you know what? It's starting to travel. So I'm pretty much going to lose my right hand. Clearly. Yes. Clearly.

They're going to have to amputate my hand to save my arm. And then what is that, What is that going to be like to run a business as an amputee? I am not kidding you when the downward spiral was like,

and I was really upset. My heart rate was up and I was like really nervous. And I caught it though. I was like, Heather, really just calm down.

It's probably fine. I was like, you are catastrophizing. And I'm like, no, I'm not. You know, and I was starting to fight with myself. Yeah. I mean, in this, it was, it started to like ease up a little bit that same day.

And then over the next couple of days, you can see I still have all five fingers on my right hand. I see them. Yeah. So it turned out to be okay. Yeah. But I like I went to bed that night.

Yeah. Oh, upset. Yeah. I was going to lose my head. Oh my gosh. I 100 % understand. I have a very similar story with my back. Tell me. I heard it at the gym and I thought for sure that I had just herniated some discs in my neck again,

which unfortunately I have previous experience with. So it goes from I hurt myself at the gym to my business is going to collapse. Yes. For the next three months,

I'm not going to be able to hold the camera like last time and I might have to have the surgery and of course the surgery is going to go poor and then I'm going to be paralyzed and like it goes to this place of like the world is ending I pull the muscle in my shoulder and it's better it's healing as we speak yes and just like your finger you know it but it It's that I almost think it's this moment of like,

I don't know what the right word is, humility, like recognizing that you're not invincible anymore. Maybe that's where it comes from on this personal stuff.

But yeah, it was, yeah, the overgeneralization and catastrophizing is real with us, Heather. It is real. And it's sprinkling a little bit of denial that like nothing should ever happen to us and it's just crazy.

I do want to talk about a strategy to work this through. So we were talking on a call recently and I was telling you that Craig had been traveling. He was in Texas for work at a conference and he was visiting his dad.

He's originally from Texas. And I had this like vision, imagination that my phone was going to ring and it would be Craig's dad my father -in -law and he was going to say like I was living this out this was a in my imagination he says there's been an accident and I say is he okay and he says no you have to get down here and this was like very real in my body so I was telling you this story and I was also

sharing how I combat these. These are super intrusive thoughts, which is like the next level of anxiety, right? Let's ratchet it up a notch and make it even worse by making crap up like completely out of the clear blue sky.

So the one thing I've taught myself to do is I come up with this vision of what I'm creating or what I want in life and it's building a million dollar business.

And so I jokingly say I'm going to be million dollar Heather. I'm going to be running this million dollar business. And if I can imagine my husband being in an accident, then certainly I can imagine building a million dollar business and like having so much fun,

serving people helping and donating money and all the things I want to do with money. I've talked about this. Yeah. I caught the thought and I'd like shook my head probably like teddy does when he gets wet your dog you know like yeah and i'm like but there's also a million dollar hether and if i can imagine this i can imagine that so i taught this to my daughter ella she's looking at apartments to move into and

she's really excited about like decorating it and she loves to be super cute she's really good at it so i said to her when you have these intrusive thoughts i want you to think of your new bedroom and in the bookshelves and the lights and how you're going to do it.

And I got her to a point, I could see her looking off in the distance. I got her to a point where she was starting to imagine that. And so I said the next time one of these intrusive thoughts comes up,

you need to have this story about your apartment that you can automatically go to. So I want to hear yours in a second. But what I'm encouraging everyone to do is have an imaginative story that is super exciting in the future that feels good that you want to create and sort of have it in your back pocket,

in your tool belt, ready to go when some crazy intrusive thought comes up. Okay. Do you have an example of this? Yeah, when you redirect. Absolutely. I have similar feelings and I don't even know where they came from,

to be honest with you. But it's one of these situations. I think actually it comes from we live kind of in a busy intersection and people get in car accidents all the time at the corner near my house.

And so it's recently a motorcyclist got into a really, really bad accident. And so now every time my husband leaves the house and like, okay, will you text me when you get there? Like this is not,

this is not normal being a wife stuff. It's ratcheted up. Yes. And so what I think of, just like you said, to do a couple of weeks ago when we talked about this,

I flip it. And I flip it to this point where in a next year or in a couple of years or however long it takes and not judging how long it takes, a little asterisk there,

I am going to be in this whole place where I am satisfied with my business. I'm satisfied with the coaching clients that I'm getting and the coaching clients that I'm helping and the dogs that I'm able to take photos of and the money that I'm able to raise for the charities.

And I'm just satisfied. And it's not this place of just like, like you said, putting my feet up and like here I am, making, you know, 100K a year with my feet up and I'm not doing any work.

It's loving the work that I'm doing and being satisfied in it. That's the place that I am. That's the goal. Right. Okay. Would you, what,

what could you name that version of Michelle? Like, I have a million dollar Heather. I make a joke. Yeah. Million dollar Heather. And I just, when I'm having the intrusive thought, I'm like, oh, million dollar Heather. And I start to focus or think about that.

So could you give that Michelle a name? It's funny that you say that because I already have and it's kind of funny. So my business name is pets and focus.

So that person is pets and focus, Michelle. Yes. Yeah. Well, she's just content. Is that like she's, she's content. She's happy with what she's doing. She's comfortable with the money that she's bringing in and the assistance that she's providing for other people.

right? Because for me, in my photography journey, I did so much work on the business and the photography journey and I had to stop doing the nursing stuff. We've talked about it on previous episodes,

very burnt out. To be able to help other people in their business is like dovetailing these two things together. And it's so wonderful.

I I just love it. And so to be able to be in a position to do that, the thing about me is, I need to be in the trenches with you. I need to be doing it with you.

And so I have to continue to run my business to be able to have these insights and work with people and help everybody get better. So I'm helping them,

but they're also helping me. And it's wonderful. Yeah. And And so that's who pets and focus, Michelle is. Oh, my gosh. So you've spent some time thinking about her, yes? Yes,

absolutely. Yeah. So you can imagine her in detail like you were just describing, which means when you have the intrusive thoughts about your husband and an accident, you can just like shake your head and say,

pets and focus, Michelle. Yep. And then you can focus on that. And you know, that's actually true. And I think there's some of this that's happening for you now. You are the people's coach inside of Elevate.

You are coaching and helping a lot of people. And you have one private client I know that you're working with that you've made a huge difference in impact in her life, right? I have.

Yeah. You have. It's really, really exciting. You know, like, you are already, you are already there. Pets and Focus, Michelle. You're just like, we're finding it it as you go.

I believe that I can be a million dollar earner. Like in my mind, I'm there. It's just like going to manifest over time. Yeah. There's like a piece of me that's already there.

So same for you, right? Yes. I know where I'm going. And that's clear. That's the difference. Yeah. That's the difference from a couple of years ago. All of these anxious thoughts that I had told me that that was not even a possibility.

So don't even try. wow and now when you separate out the anxious thoughts and the anxiety from what you actually can achieve that's when the rubber meets the road wow so are you saying that back then when the anxious thoughts you were just accepting them and it was like yes this is who i am they were preventing you from getting that clarity to imagine that future michel Yeah,

absolutely, because they're always pressing on me. They're always in the back of my head saying, no, you can't, absolutely not. Who do you think you are? What are you doing? When you believe all that stuff,

the true part of you that can come out and create this wonderful, sustainable, beautiful business that's perfect for you isn't even an option.

It's not available. It's just not available to you. And so that's why this stuff is so important. And it sounds kind of woo sometimes. And I get that. And sometimes it can be like,

oh, you can just think yourself out of anxiety. And like when you're in it, you look at that and think absolutely, no, I cannot. That's crazy. But once you start to actually do the work and separate this stuff out,

you absolutely can do it. Oh my gosh. Okay. So is it like when you are in the anxious thoughts and you're not separated yet from them, you were looking to your past to tell you what you would create in the future,

which would essentially be more of the same because your brain was like, this is who we are. Right. This is what we're going to create. And then when you created that separation, you started to be able to look to the future for what you want to create and imagine for a better version of yourself rather than relying on the past evidence to dictate what is possible for you.

Yeah, absolutely. When you look at the past, all you're going to see is the negative stuff. I mean, in business and in life, as your intro Absolutely.

When you look back at stuff from your childhood, I imagine most of us remember a lot of bad stuff and not as much of the good stuff. And so the same thing happens in your business and the same thing happens with your anxious thoughts.

Oh my gosh. That's so well said because my daughter really struggles with anxious thoughts and I'm helping her work through these. But she was telling a friend, we were talking the three of us.

And she said, well, there's some things from my childhood. I just don't remember because I disassociated. And I was like, excuse me? That's a big word. I'm like,

you had a golden child. Like, right. But she focuses on that one time that one thing happened that was traumatic for her and that's fair,

but that's the only thing she sees when she had, Michelle, her childhood was magical, okay? I mean, she had absolutely everything,

but she focused it. And what happened was this one time she got a bad grade on a test. And so I grounded her, which, okay, which this is not the best parenting move.

But when you have a child, when you ground them, you have to take away something that is important to them. You have to find their currency and take it away. So for a lot of parents now, they would take away screen time,

you know, the iPad or the phone or whatever. Back then, this wasn't a thing. She had one currency when she, this is like she was in first or second grade, one currency and it was reading books. So I told her away her books,

okay? She's like, I'm going to be in therapy about how my mom took away my boy and it's like laughable now was that my best moment no i just didn't know i was doing the best i could but she is that's what we're all doing she is only focused on that yeah creating things from that viewpoint rather than all the magic and i and i don't fault her for that i think it to your point it's just what the brain does it's

going to look back at the couple of negative things or maybe there was a lot and it's going to try to create a foundation or future based on that. That's what the brain's going to do. Yeah.

It's evidence based. Yep. Braining. I guess. You know, like nurses use evidence based practice and this is what your brain is doing.

This is the evidence that I have. Your mom took away your books. So you're a terrible person. You're never going to learn how to read. You're stupid blah blah blah blah that's where it probably goes yes and it's just not true your mom loved you of course this was the only as a six year old this is the only currency you have take away your toys take away your books whatever you love exactly that's right and it's

just a point to like reset yourself and realize okay you can't get back grades let's work this out it's very different when you flip it and Instead of looking at the fact that you had your books taken away to the fact that,

you know, you have this beautiful home that you live in, you have the support of your family or going to college, you know, there's a whole bunch of different things. But it's easy for us to say that, right? Because we weren't that six -year -olds in the middle of a room without the books.

And, you know, she had her math book because she clearly did it. She did bad on the test. So she was allowed the book but okay yeah that's a punishment man and by the way it was probably a couple of days and it's just yeah ironic so we were on a call i don't i don't know if you were there or not with nicole earlier this week where um to bring this around to business she was saying she just has all this

evidence of you know it's hard to get clients and people want things for free or low price she went to some networking groups that didn't work out for her and so she has all this evidence of what doesn't work and it just feels very heavy and she said so I don't know if I want to try those things again and I said where do you create your future from are you not going to do these things because you have this

evidence from the past how does that support a better different future it doesn't where should you go to create a I think you should go to the future.

Yes. I don't think you should look at the evidence from the pet, unless it serves you, by the way. If you have evidence that feels good and you have proof, that's different. But in her case, she just had this mountain of evidence of why all of these things didn't work.

And she just kept looking to it. Yeah. And I said, hey, we need to drop that and choose to look to our future. Like, you know, Pets and Focus, Michelle, that you're talking about,

million dollar, Heather. We don't know exactly how that's going to happen because we haven't created it yet, but how in the world would we build that from the past? Right.

It wouldn't be possible. Yeah. Well, and that's a, some might say that's a negative result. Say you go to a networking meeting and you have nobody that, you know, it has any interest in what you're doing.

It's still a result. Yes. It's still evidence. So rather than saying, I went to this networking meeting, it was stupid and nobody helped me. Maybe the networking meeting isn't the best place for you to be.

Or this particular group. It gave you data, is what you're saying. Right. It gave you data. Yeah. So yeah, maybe you consider it in quotation's failure. But actually, it just gave you more evidence towards what you don't need to spend more time on,

which is great. It doesn't work. Right. Now you know what you do need to spend time on. Yeah, exactly. Okay, I want to wrap this up. Do you have any final thoughts to incur,

by the way, I think a lot of people, like more people than not have anxious thoughts, don't you? Like this is, like a lot of people have this. So number one, we want you to be encouraged that you're not alone.

Yes. And some of these are really intrusive. You know, when I first realized that I maybe needed to address this problem was we live with my parents and they had a dog,

a beagle named trooper. Yes. And my mom loved this dog. And whenever he passed away last year. But whenever I would be in the kitchen making dinner and I had a giant knife, I would have this vision of me dropping the knife and killing him.

Oh, yeah. And that's when I realized I might need to talk to someone. Right. This like really serious, intrusive thought came into my brain.

And listen, Michelle, two years ago, I would have never told you that story because I was so mortified. Yeah. That I had thoughts like that Or that I would have these visions of my husband dying with some freak accident on a farm in Texas.

You know, like I would have never said that. So I've made progress because I think that anxiety can breed shame. And shame loves dark and secrecy, darkness and somebody.

100%. Yeah. So if you talk about it, it lightens it. Well, number one, you start to hear how ridiculous it sounds. Yeah. You know, And also it just drops the shame because I told that to someone recently and she's like,

oh, yeah, I have things like that. And I'm like, wait, what? Other people have those thoughts too. I thought I was like, this doesn't make me the worst human being in the world. He hates all dogs.

And obviously, clearly I'm going to kill my mother's dog. That's what I was like, why would I have a thought like that? I do not want to kill my mother's dog. And I don't, it's just, Listen, even the neurologists can't explain our brains.

Absolutely. So it makes no sense. Okay. What piece, one piece of advice would you give someone who's maybe challenged with this?

Yeah. I think the one piece of advice, I would say, I don't know if I can just narrow it down to one, Heather. I'm sorry. Yeah, of course. It starts with you're not alone. Yeah.

You're not alone in this. And so I don't want you to think that, you know, sitting in the dark and your living room with the blinds closed because this is just your life now, that's not the place.

Sorry, I don't mean to get a little bit emotional, but that's not the place that you have to stay in. There are absolutely ways to help this and to flip your brain to work with you instead of working against you.

And there's definitely hope out there to fix this, you know? And like we said, it's not, fix is a word that has a whole lot of different meanings.

It's not going to ever be probably completely gone. But you absolutely can find ways to work with it and to learn from it and to put the brakes on all of this negative junk that automatically comes up 100 % you can do it.

If I can do it, you can do it too. Yeah, you know, I actually have that thought too. I'm like, if I can overcome this, I think anybody can, which is very hopeful. And I think this is one thing that makes us different inside of elevate,

you know, us coaching people that we are very well versed on this because we have it. Right. Yeah. And two, we've studied it and we know how to integrate this into business and what it means for your business because obviously it can absolutely hold you back if you're constantly worried what people think.

So we talk about these things on our coaching calls and on our strategy calls. Yeah. Michelle, where can people find you? People can find me number one in Elevate. Coaching.

Yeah, a lot. Yeah, they don't call me the people's coach for nothing, guys. It's because I've done all this, okay? You can find me online at Pets in Focus Photo.

That's my Facebook handle. That's my Instagram handle. And that is my website, Pets andFocusPoto .com. I want to thank you for your courageousness and vulnerability in many of our episodes,

just being really open and honest and sharing what your struggles were and what's worked for you. Yeah, two years ago, whew, I could never imagine where I'm at now.

And in a good way, in a good way. So think about that project forward. Yeah. If you couldn't imagine where you are now, imagine how awesome it's going to be two years in the future from that or, you know,

whatever that looks like. I would like to encourage everyone to go back, starting with episode 277. what I did was I went through all of these cognitive distortions in an episode and just looked at each one of them.

And I think that you'll love it. It'll be really helpful. It may be even worth listening to again if you heard it the first time. We hope that you found this useful. See you in the next episode.

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