Do you ever feel embarrassed about the state of your website? Or put off doing marketing that could grow your business? Or maybe get compliments from people on your latest article but inside feel like a fraud?
What is it about marketing that can bring up strong feelings like embarrassment, denial or shame? I mean after all, isn’t marketing just business? Yep. But that doesn’t stop these feelings from being common, not just in new entrepreneurs, but also in successful ones.
As a marketing coach I witness entrepreneurs having and acting on these feelings, and frankly it can be a bit crazy. I see small business owners tell others that they are embarrassed by their website or their marketing materials. I watch them avoid taking actions they have clearly identified as ways to increase their visibility. I have been told by many successful, intelligent, sane entrepreneurs that they would like to do x or y in their marketing but that if they did, it probably wouldn’t work anyway. They said it with complete conviction as if they had just said something rational instead of something that makes no sense given their talents and past successes.
Are you seeing the crazy yet? No? Well, let me point out that these small business owners are all hoping, praying, and trying to grow their business! Hence the need for marketing. Which means they want one thing but are acting in the opposite way as to get it. Or maybe they are taking the same actions over and over, hoping for a different result.
IT STARTED WAY BACK WHEN
Just why does increasing our visibility—in other words, marketing—bring all this up?
First, visibility was not encouraged for most of us as children. In my parents day, it was be seen and not heard for children. Fast forward to my generation and children who tried to be visible for their gifts or talents were told “don’t think too highly of yourself” or “don’t brag”. If you were in a dsyfunctional family, it was “who do you think you are?” or “oh, so you think you’re so great, huh?” Clearly not very encouraging to be visible right?
And as we grew up, we were only encouraged to have a voice that helped us fit in, get ahead, or make others comfortable. As young adults, finding our voice had to do with finding a job. No one that I know was taught to have an authentic, grounded voice around their accomplishments. To share easily and warmly with others about just what makes us special or what our gifts are.
In truth then, visibility is hard for almost everyone until they break free of these early childhood learnings and the limiting thoughts that come with them. If you are experiencing high stress in your life, or have traumatic or abusive situations in you past, it’s doubly hard to shake these childhood learnings.
Why? If you are just plain ole stressed out, know that ongoing stress can deplete your ability to stay present and away from limiting beliefs, especially ones you picked up in childhood. And stress can cap our desire for growth—our system thinks, “hey, we are stressed enough, let’s not add to it.”
VISIBILITY USED TO NOT BE SAFE
For anyone whose been abused—whether that’s sexually, physically or emotionally—you learned that being more visible was a terrible strategy for survival. It’s common for abuse survivors to have finely honed capacity to be almost invisible when needed. That opening your mouth or making a big presence was an easy way to attract unwanted attention. This means abuse survivors learned not to take steps toward increasing their visibility or getting bigger.
If you are carrying any kind of trauma, whether from abuse, accident or loss in your life, you have likely learned to avoid anything that reminds you of the original trauma. You may have a finely honed capacity to avoid situations that set you off. Stepping into unknown territory, such as growing your business, can seem unsafe to the whole nervous system and can cause great alarm. This generally causes resistance, procrastination, or being stuck in indecision around your marketing.
IT'S TIME TO STEP UP—AND OUT
The main point is that to grow your business, you now have to embrace what was once a BAD idea—getting more visible or bigger—as exactly what will lead you toward a life that is fun, easeful and gets the results you want.
This is about changing your paradigm, from the old to the new. How you do this has everything to do with your recognition and acceptance of how your past may be influencing your present. Success depends on your willingness to do the work to heal from the stress, trauma or abuse not stuff it or try to power through it. Although its counter intuitive, you can heal your past by stepping bravely into business growth in the present, coupled with self growth tools and practices that deal with the past events that get triggered by doing so.
The journey may not always be easy, but the results are worth it. No matter what happened before, you deserve to grow your business into a truly supportive, authentic expression of your gifts to the world. And I’m here rooting for you!
Linda believes that small business owners can step into a better version of their business when they embrace authenticity and become more fully themselves. Her 25-year marketing career has included Kimpton Hotels, Jamba Juice, and Disney helping her clients win awards and placements in publications like The Wall Street Journal and TIME Magazine, as well as on the front cover of WIRED magazine. You can visit her website here: lindabasso.com or join her FB conversation.