Having lunch with a friend this week, I confessed to her that despite much personal development work, my default setting tends to be a scarcity mind-set. Although I have run my own business for thirteen years, I still feel a deep seated fear and anxiety building when I don’t have work. Anxiety blights my days and hampers my creativity. Instead of getting into action and creating opportunities for myself when work is quiet, I close down. This manifests in penny pinching behaviour, not going out and living vicariously through the lives of others. I read blog posts and scroll through Instagram and Pinterest feeds of others. I look at what other entrepreneurs are doing online and admonish myself for my failure to take action.
My friend asked me to ‘name my gremlin’, she explained that a coach had once asked her to do this and that it had helped her to define and tame self-defeating behaviours. Instinctively I responded that my gremlin was called ‘ration book’. This gremlin only surfaces when I have no work. My friend enquired about where I thought my gremlin came from. I explained that I think it began to grow during my childhood. My parents were raised during the Second World War. Food and clothing were on ration and people had to be resourceful and creative to stretch what they had to make ends meet. They believed that no one owed them a living and worked hard and made sacrifices to support their families. This generation were raised without technology in an era when a 9 to 5 job was one of the safest routes to financial security. They tend to be cautious and risk adverse, knuckling down when times get tough and being true to the saying ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.
What is interesting about my ration book gremlin is that he isn’t all bad. He is a terrible worrier but he can be creative and resourceful too. If I can calm him down enough, he can help me to find the magic in my current circumstances.
So what can I do to calm my ration book gremlin when it starts to run amuck? In the interests of helping myself and other people who may have similar fears, I thought I would create a three point plan for calming my gremlin’s panic and using his innate wisdom.
- Live luxuriously with what you have – When money feels tight, I start to yearn for all the things I cannot have. Like a spoilt child, I long to go out for a delicious meal in a swanky restaurant, to buy myself a gorgeous bouquet of peonies or a new fabulous new outfit. Rationally I know that the highs from this sort of expenditure are only short term. I also know that if I can challenge myself to meet these needs using what I already have, I can give myself a sense of luxury without consuming yet more of the world’s resources. Last night for example, I really wanted a restaurant quality meal. I moaned to my husband that I wanted to go out and then I pulled myself up sharp. I went into the kitchen and made a beautiful dinner from what I had in my store cupboard and fridge. I made a tasty meal using frozen fish in a homemade lemon, butter and caper sauce. It was really delicious and we ate it by candlelight with a little glass of wine. I was glad that I had drawn upon the resourcefulness of my ration book gremlin instead of its fear.
- Get into action – I believe it was David Schwartz, the author of ‘The Magic of Thinking Big’ who coined the phrase ‘action cures fear’. I notice that I am terribly driven when I have a project to complete for one of my clients. For me, there seems to be a direct link between being busy and having a healthy self-esteem. When I have no work for which I will be held accountable to others, I tend to let myself off the hook. Yet these quieter times provide an opportunity to get busy bringing my own plans and dreams to fruition. When I am working for myself, I am inevitably working on something that I feel passionate about. This is so much more invigorating than someone else’s Instagram feed.
- Tune into gratitude – Keeping a gratitude journal can feel like rather a chore. It has become pretty much standard fare for those of us seeking to improve our lives. However, there is a huge difference between robotically writing out a shopping list of things to be grateful for and really ‘feeling’ the gratitude. As I write this blog, I stop for a minute and think about all that I have in this moment. I am sitting in a warm, tranquil room with a beautiful scented candle lit. My lovely husband has just bought me a cup of tea and I know we will have a lovely evening and sleep safely in a comfortable bed. Rather than keeping a gratitude journal, I try to stop regularly throughout the day and think about all the things I have to be thankful for. I don’t stop until I feel an infusion of joy in the present moment.