By Dianna Kokoszka, Crosswalk.com
Anxiety is something that affects all of us — especially when it comes to money. For most, the strongest anxiety comes when there’s more month than money. Some are blessed to be successful with a lovely family, but life throws unexpected curveballs our way often. By working on the sources of our anxiety, we can experience world-tilting things, such as hardship and betrayal, and still manage to shed our limiting beliefs to live life to the fullest.
My entrepreneurial journey began, oddly enough, through a PBS auction. That’s right! When a real estate course worth $1000 came on the screen one late night, my body reacted; I just had to bid despite the financial risk. With the last $50 in my bank account and that strong, audacious Whispering inside my head, I took a leap of faith. And won!
I couldn’t even afford a babysitter at the time, but the potential of this gift was obvious, even through my fear. Putting my kids up in a red wagon, we went door to door and just started selling houses. For me, it was a literal red wagon — one of those old-school things — but everyone has their own version of a red wagon. Something that gives you that little bit of assistance when you need it most.
Real estate was a man’s world, which made me more determined; even my deep anxieties couldn’t keep me back. The very last real estate office I visited, lucky number 13, finally gave me a spot despite already having a woman. They took a chance on me, and it was not misplaced; I sold 104 homes the first year, a record that hasn’t been broken yet. Things were looking up. Then, I started getting sloppy, and that’s when the real anxieties began.
Sometimes, our biggest enemy is our ego. My success had made me lose track of what made me successful: watching my money and being hyper-vigilant. I trusted a woman explicitly, not verifying receipts or making sure mortgage and rent checks got where they needed to be. This, and her resulting embezzlement, set me back. I lost my cars, four real estate offices — everything except our house. Silver linings.
No one succeeds alone. I was surrounded by incredibly supportive people who understood that in order to be successful in the business, one must maintain appearances. Friends let me borrow their cars, allowing me to keep an aura of wealth and success. I was able to negotiate my debts and really dig deep into my character, building it from the ground up again.
It was all an illusion. Far from a successful businesswoman, I was barely keeping my head above water. At the time, Wendy’s had a bowl of crackers out that you could take to go with their chili bowl. I couldn’t even afford the chili, and you bet I ate a lot of crackers for dinner after feeding the kids around that time. Those crackers were my little red wagon, and they kept me going.
It is hard work to build success once, let alone twice. At times, it seemed impossible. You can have faith, but you must put in the work. There are inescapable storytellers: the devious, flattering, and reasonable. Self-talk isn’t as constant and ever-present as God’s. It eats what we feed it, and it loops back around. It becomes something you believe in.
Faith and belief are two different things. Faith includes a portion of belief; belief is rooted in the idea that something is real. Faith is a deep conviction, without a doubt. We teach ourselves beliefs. Something we think over and over again becomes something we believe in. We are the habits we form, and our habits inform our future.
Negative self-talk has the worst effect on us, our self-image, and our potential. It’s not faith; it’s our brain training itself to believe a falsehood. Belief is being, trust is doing, and faith is having. And faith is something you must always have.
When we believe we are truly alone or other negative things about ourselves, we create distorted realities. Beliefs can hold us back, but our faith will never hold us back. And in order to get our beliefs back on track, we must put in the effort.
Training Our Beliefs
There are differences between limiting and liberating beliefs. People can’t get rid of limiting beliefs through repetition because of our brain’s feedback loop, our neurons forging paths between one another that only grow stronger through repetitive signals. It hard-wires everything together and becomes a habitual thought, a self-constructed belief.
Humans retrain our brains all the time, taking us in many different directions. If words predict our future, suffice to say that we can play a part in alleviating our anxieties. What words are you using?
For example, you may say, “I’m so frustrated,” which limits your creativity, versus “I am fascinated,” which creates it. Instead of telling your friend, “I’m so depressed,” which digs the hole deeper, saying, “I’m working through this,” puts a positive spin on your struggles, giving you a path forward and growing your confidence.
We are anxious mostly about things we cannot control. My siblings both had brain tumors, so I learned a lot about how the brain works and how we become addicted to anxiety because we release chemicals that we become used to over time. Much like with drugs and alcohol, we can become addicted to our thoughts. When we have anxiety or depression, our very cells start to crave it.
This is why personal development is key to alleviating, if not controlling, your anxiety. A way of controlling the effects of various hardships is by focusing on other people and sharing positivity so endorphins and positive thoughts will lessen personal pain. Hit two birds with one stone; do it for others and also do it for yourself!
You can’t be in a limiting belief and in gratitude at the same time. Train your brain simply to acknowledge things to be grateful for and go on from there: water pressure, working red lights that allow you to get to work safely, and a plentiful supermarket. These positive thoughts, along with necessary clinical help, can help you overcome basic anxieties and depression.
Who you surround yourself with also takes a massive toll on your anxiety levels. To keep yourself from falling back into old negative patterns, don’t call anyone who sympathizes with you when you’re anxious, thus multiplying the negative thoughts. If you think about lack — of money, love, respect — you’ll always lack. Conversely, if you talk about beauty, it’ll find you.
Who do you talk to about the positive things in your life? Don’t wallow in negativity if you can help it. Think along the lines of: How can I help you? How can I be a positive force in your life? Share positivity and help mitigate anxiety. Every one of us has a story and needs help in some way. Sometimes, you go down before you go up, and you can pick someone else up on the way and pull each other up together.
Personal development is about the self: self-awareness, self-management, and relational management. It’s a never-ending process, a constant upheaval of old, negative thoughts and a resurgence of new, productive ones.
Have faith that you will find your way out of your anxieties. You don’t have to wait until the anxiety is gone to start moving forward because something will always carry you despite your failures or fears. Your belief is centered on faith, and faith is centered on trust. Belief is the foundation, something that can be shaky or secure. By having faith in your entrepreneurial spirit and in that inner voice that guides you, you can achieve great things.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Drs Producoes
Dianna Kokoszka is the former CEO of KW MAPS Coaching and Training at Keller Williams Realty International and author of Becoming More: You Can't Get to Better Until You Get to Different.