Recently I was listening to my business mentor talking about Entrepreneurial hunger. She described how, for her, there’s a sliding scale from “I could eat” at the bottom, to “I’m hungry” and then at the top “I’m famished starving”. The scenario ran that you were more successful in your business based on your level of hunger- the drive to create and implement at speed and with efficiency and effectiveness.
Now, at the time, I tried not to judge myself for being in a room of obviously ‘famished’ business owners, whilst I felt that I was only between peckish and hungry.
It was on the shuttle on the way back to the airport that my thoughts started drifting and I was thinking about Myofascial Release and about the physiological responses we experience during stress.
Our instinctual physiology is such that when we are experiencing stress, naturally our body focuses its energies and attention down to methods of survival- freeze, fight or flight. And what’s one of the first processes that gets shut down? Our ability to digest.
Now, let’s expand this a little. I was attending a business school meeting. Why would a massage therapist be attending a business event? Well, for me, whilst the hands on therapy part of being a therapist comes naturally and fulfils me in a very real and satisfying way. But, if I’m being honest and real with you (I’m sure by now, you won’t mind me exposing my vulnerabilities a little) I find the day to day sustaining of a business- the marketing, the finances, the insecurity of being self employed and all that goes with it, challenging and sometimes downright stressful. Trust me, it’s never going to be the thought of a psoas release that keeps me awake at 4 in the morning. It’s the business of Business is MY personal sabre tooth tiger.
It struck me that for many of us, maybe it is our level of fear we are experiencing that is clouding our ability to feel how ‘hungry’ we really are? Not just physical hunger, but mental hunger too. How often does the overwhelm of every day life put us in a state of mind that we can’t think about the future because we are trying so hard to manage the present?
I travelled a long way to attend this meeting and yet, I perceived myself ‘only’ as being hungry… In one particular session, where we outlined and discussed the goals we need to achieve to move towards the bigger vision of our business, it showed me how much fear I was sat in. Buttons were pushed, tears were shed, snot was wiped and pens were inadvertently thrown. The big scary animal had roared once again!
In nature, many many moons ago, as wild animals we would have frozen as a reaction to the impending threat. Then we would have assessed the situation and made a decision “Do I fight? Or do I run? Or can I play dead? What will give me the best chance of survival?” But once we were past the big scary sabre tooth tiger, the first thing we would do is to ‘thaw out’ and literally shake off the excess adrenaline. We see animals do it all the time. Thawing out is the third stage in the cycle of stress and trauma response. In modern life, we quite often miss this third stage: we forget to shake it off and we forget to give ourselves permission to breathe deeply and relax wholly. This can leave us ping ponging between stress and reaction, stress and reaction. We never settle down, and so our hunger never kicks back in.
Learning what our stressors are is an important first step. Then taking time to unpack them, feel into them- seeing if there is an obvious theme and using rational thinking to extract the deeper nub of what’s going on. From there, finding tools that allow us to move into the third stage at vital. Especially ones that will serve you a life time. From counselling, meditation and mindfulness, to breathing techniques and body work, there is a vast array of techniques that can aid your thawing process and deliver harmony back into your world.
I found that when I give myself permission to be scared and acknowledge that there are things that will never be my natural forte, it stops me from stepping into the place where I feel overwhelmed. Asking for help can be tough at times (I know this, from deep experience) but ultimately rewarding. Anything that helps break the cycle and gives you space is good. I can heartily recommend starting with your breathing, it’s free, it’s easy and you can do it anywhere (I recommend you do!). You can find an little video here on my self treatment page that talks you through a diaphragmatic breathing technique-I’d love to hear how you get on.
Til the next time,