Woman with worried face

A common theme for discussion with our members and clients, is confidence, or rather a lack of it. And feeling shaky on the confidence front can lead to so many worries, whether you run a small business, or not. We end up worrying about what other people are doing. Whether we’re saying and doing the right things ourselves. Wondering if our products and services are up to scratch and whether we, in general, are ‘good’ enough. And sometimes, if we don’t learn to deal with these worries, they can end up crippling us, holding us back and causing us a huge amount of stress. But the thing is – often, we end up worrying about things that we can’t actually do anything about. So what happens then? How do we cope with things we can’t control?

Do you understand how serious this is?

Do you understand how serious this is? I heard these words from the consultant obstetrician after she had told me that I had pre-eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome – a potentially life-threatening condition – and that my daughter had to be born early at 33 weeks. She also used the phrase “if it comes to it, we’ll prioritise you over the baby” during the same conversation.

To be fair, I did understand the seriousness of the situation for both my daughter and myself. I even Googled this new, previously unheard of, condition, as I got the impression that the consultant was only giving me the ‘headlines’ as it were. I understood the whole C-Section thing and that if necessary I would be given a general anaesthetic. I understood that they had let the pregnancy continue for as long as they possibly could, but that it was no longer safe to wait any longer. We were prepared that our daughter probably wouldn’t cry and that she would be taken straight off to the special care unit.

So why did the consultant say what she did? Because she genuinely didn’t know whether or not I understood, and I get that. But the reason for that was because I was as cool as a cucumber the whole time. Yes, I totally appreciated what was facing us. But I wasn’t worried about it. Instead, I accepted it. I made the conscious decision to put my total trust in both the obstetric and paediatric teams that were helping us. So yes, I was a little shocked. But I didn’t cry. I didn’t panic. I didn’t try to change the plan they had for our care. And in doing so, I found that I could cope with a situation that I most definitely couldn’t control.

Manage your emotions

Managing my emotions was a huge part of my way of coping with what happened to me. Instead of panicking – which would have been very easy to do – I made the active choice to trust and to believe in the expertise of the many people who supported us that night and in the weeks that followed. I knew that I could neither change my condition, or control the outcome. But I could choose to think positively, and do everything they asked of me calmly and immediately, knowing that in doing so, I was doing everything I could to help to secure a good outcome.

And the same goes for business. It’s understandable that we worry about what our competitors are doing, but we can’t control it. So instead of allowing the stress to build, try to manage your emotions and focus on what you can control. Namely what you, not they, are doing, and how you respond to it. By doing so, a perceived negative reaction can become a positive action where you actually move forward. Dwelling on something is suddenly turned into problem-solving. And we know, after all, that nobody can do you, better than you!

Identify your fears

Often, when we’re worrying about something, the feelings, and the situation as a whole, can spiral, and things feel much bigger than they actually are. We worry about the bigger picture, not its individual parts. So instead, once you have control of your emotions, try to stop for a minute. Take some time to identify your particular fears and break them down. Smaller things are much easier to deal with that one seemingly huge (and growing!) problem.

For example, if you’re worrying about a competitor’s social media following compared to your own, break it down. Is it just the fact that their number is higher than yours? Or is it actually that your number isn’t growing as you would like it to be? The first point is something you can’t control. But the second point, you can. You can’t do anything about their followers, but you can do something about your own. And this then becomes a positive action which will take our business forward for the better. By identifying our fears, and reframing them where we can, we learn to cope with things that we can’t control.

Manage your stress

The suggestions above focus on taking positive action, but it’s also important to acknowledge that regardless of how well we do these things, some level of stress and worry will still remain. That’s just human nature. Therefore, if we’re looking to cope with things we can’t control, it’s also important to be able to manage our stress.

How we do this will be different for everyone. So take time to consider what works for you. Could you go for a walk with a friend and talk to them about how you’re feeling? Take some time out for yourself and do something relaxing or fun? Spend some time working on your Bullet Journal? Whatever’s in your de-stress toolkit, now’s a great time to roll it out.

So what about you? What are your tips for copying with things you can’t control? Let us know in the comments. And if you’re a woman running her own business, and this is something you struggle with, why not get in touch? We can work with you to turn the negative thoughts into positive ones, build your confidence, and help your business to fly!