Stop your self-defeating patterns

By Jeff Strese

Three psychological barriers you must overcome

Every successful business venture begins with a willingness to take some level of risk and push through the fear of failure. It requires us to develop a strong sense of self-determination, so others don’t dissuade us from our personal goals and dreams. It means we must be willing to adopt a mindset that is relentlessly positive and focused on growth. But there’s a challenge, and it is an internal one.

Without mental awareness, fear and self-doubt can create psychological barriers to personal growth. However, by just committing to build awareness, you can begin to first identify and eventually stop these harmful, self-defeating patterns and then adopt newer, healthier ones. Awareness-building is a powerful catalyst for developing an influential voice within your family business or enterprise — especially when it needs to adapt to the changing times and sustain its relevance in the marketplace for the future.

Wherever you sit in your family constellation, your voice can hold greater influence if you avoid these psychological barriers:

1. Risk Aversion

The avoidance of emotional or psychological pain is the path of least resistance. You might fear tension within the family system or failure in your job or career. Future-tripping about what could go wrong will only diminish your creativity, curiosity and willingness to try something new. One of the most effective ways to overcome this tendency is to replace the word “change” with “grow.” Words are powerful. They can trigger either a positive or a negative narrative in your mind. You can practice this with your family by stating up front your desire to grow even if you are simultaneously struggling with uncertainty about the future. This paradox of wanting to grow while struggling with the emotions of uncertainty can actually create a healthy internal tension that moves you toward thoughtful, risk-taking behaviors. Most people are willing to push through something hard if they think it will help them grow. That’s why the phrase “growing pains” connotes a healthy change process.

2. People-Pleasing

Those who struggle with “people-pleasing” start off as “parent-pleasers.” It just follows them into adulthood and can take root in careers and in relationships. At the core of this psychological barrier is the fear of rejection. Even for productive, well-adjusted adults, people-pleasing behaviors can inhibit someone’s ability to set healthy boundaries and to recognize when to say no. In a family system, it is important for each member to differentiate and develop a strong sense of ego and self-confidence. It’s hard to reach your own potential if you are chronically trying to please others, especially family members. As the timeless principle goes, “boundaries fall in beautiful places.”

3. Fixed Mindset

Disruption in our lives interrupts the patterns we have worked so hard to create. Our minds can become fixed on what we are familiar with and create a temporary sense of security. That’s why so many of us become creatures of habit. The challenge is when these patterns that we’ve come to rely on for our sense of security become obstacles to innovation for the family business or enterprise. Circling back to the perspective of growth, consider adopting a growth mindset, which will help you move toward possibility. When you become curious about a new subject, lean into it by researching it from all angles. Sort through the data to distill what is credible before offering your perspective. This will help grow your voice of influence and is the most effective way to establish a baseline of trust and credibility so your input will matter when it counts the most.

Jeff Strese is an organizational development specialist and contributor to Family Business magazine.

Issue: 
January/February 2022

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