By Daniel C. Finley
Are you going through a series of emotional peaks and valleys? Are you experiencing the emotional roller coaster ride perpetuated by market fluctuations, client concerns or economic turmoil just to name a few?
If this sounds familiar, rest assured you are not alone. Many advisers are feeling an increased undercurrent of fear, anxiety and concerns when it comes to the wellbeing of their clients, the market, the economy and their businesses. To manage your emotions, you must first manage the inner adviser inside you.
The inner adviser is that little voice-positive or negative-that dictates your thoughts, feelings and actions. You know, that little voice inside your head which tells you that you will make it, or you will not make it in this business. It's your ability to manage your inner adviser that will get you off the emotional roller coaster ride.
The Four Types of Negative Self-Talk
In The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, author Edmund J. Bourne, Ph.D., simply defines negative self-talk as a series of bad habits that usually perpetuates avoidance. People are not born with a predisposition to fearful negative self-talk; people learn to think this way over time. Bourne writes that self-talk determines our moods and feelings. He describes four common types of negative self-talk, each of which I have found to be prevalent in many advisers during their own emotional rollercoaster rides.
The following illustrates how Bourne's interpretation pertains in the financial services industry with the four most common types of negative self-talk in financial advisers.
The worried adviser promotes anxiety and fear. Usually, this is the most common type of negative inner adviser in people who are prone to anxiety. The worried adviser promotes and creates anxiety by constantly imagining the worst-case scenario. The worried adviser will generally have three dominate tendencies: anticipating the worst, over estimating the odds of something bad happening and easily creating images of failure.
If you catch yourself constantly using statements such as "What if ..." you may be listening to the worried adviser inside of you.
An example of the worried adviser's self- dialogue might be: "I am having a bad month. What if I can't make it in this business and I can't pay the mortgage? What if I lose the house? What will I do then?
The worried adviser tends to live in the land of the endless "what if's ..."
The critical adviser promotes low self-esteem. It's that part of you that is a self-proclaimed judge and jury, but in this case, you are guilty until proven innocent. The critical adviser tends to spend a great deal of time pointing out flaws, limitations and possible mistakes.
The critical adviser seems to compare your accomplishments with that of others around you, but never seems to view you in a positive light, often perpetuating low self-esteem.
You are listening to the critical adviser if you catch yourself constantly using statements such as: "That was dump," or "I am never going to make it. Other advisers are doing better than I am."
An example of the critical adviser's dialogue might be: "You are never going to make it in this business!"
It is interesting to note that this is the most common type of negative self-talk to be personified in your own dialogue as the voice of someone who may have psychologically wounded you in the past, such as a parent, sibling or teacher who criticized you. In other words, you may hear your own voice in your head, but the words were those of someone else who constantly criticized you over long periods of time.
The victimized adviser promotes helplessness, hopelessness and depression. It's that little voice that tells you that there is something wrong with you, and that because of this flaw, you will not be able to overcome the endless obstacles before you as you build your business.
If you catch yourself using statements such as, "I can't because ..." and "I will never be able to because..." you are probably listening to the victimized adviser.
An example of the victimized adviser's dialogue might be: "I can't cold call because cold calling does not work in this environment any more", or "If I had started in this business before there was a do not call list, I could have made it."
The perfectionist adviser promotes stress and burnout. Its main purpose is to push you as close to perfection as possible. Unlike the critical adviser that puts you down, the perfectionist adviser tends to be the negative inner voice that tells you that you should work harder, that you should do better, that you should be first in your class, you should do this or you should do that.
If you find yourself using statements such as, "I should," "I have to," or "I must," then you are probably listening to the perfectionist adviser.
An example of the perfectionist adviser's dialogue might be: "I have to hit my gross commission numbers this month."
3 Steps to Conquering Negative Self-Talk
Conquering negative self-talk is not a matter of just not listening. You simply can't quit the little voice inside your head. You may have been listening to your negative inner advisers for years, even as far back as early childhood. However, you can conquer negative self-talk by countering it with positive self-talk, relief statements and supportive statements to back up a new positive belief system.
Here is simple process for conquering negative self-talk:
1. Become Aware of the First Signs of Negative Self-Talk
At the first signs of negative self-talk, ask yourself, "Is this good for me and my business, or bad for me and my business?"
With continued practice, this type of awareness becomes easier and easier.
2. Question Your Negative Belief Systems
One way to weaken the power of negative belief systems is to use Socratic questions-a form of questioning Socrates used to create a negative argument to rational investigation. By subjecting your negative self-talk or your negative belief systems to rational scrutiny, you break down the belief systems validity.
The following illustrates Socratic questions:
- What is the evidence that this is true?
- Is this always true, each and every time?
- Has this always been true in the past?
- Am I seeing the big picture?
- What is the worst thing that can happen to me?
3. Use Positive Counterstatements
The final step is to substitute your negative self-talk with positive counterstatements. Remember; you cannot eliminate a belief system, but you can replace negative belief system with a positive belief system. The amount of effectiveness that you will have on this process will be determined by how valid your new positive counterstatement can stand up to objective scrutiny. In other words, the stronger you can make a case for your new positive counterstatement, the less likelihood that the old negative self-talk will continue.
Examples of Conquering Negative Self-Talk
The worried adviser
"What if I lose everything trying to build my business?"
Relief Question: "What is the evidence that I will lose everything?"
Positive Counterstatement: "A bad month or bad quarter while financially uncomfortable is not the end of my financial security. I have never lost everything before and will work smart to never be in that type of financial situation."
The critical adviser
"I will not close this account because they always need to think about it. They never want to move their money to me."
Relief Question: "Is this always true? Have I ever closed an account before with any prospect?"
Positive Counterstatement: "Closing an account is merely a function of getting ready for any objections. I can use a proven objection resolutions model to address any objections. Consistently applying it will create success."
The victimized adviser
"I can't make it in this business. I can't cold call because cold calling does not work in this environment any more."
Relief Question: "Is this absolutely true? Is cold calling working for anyone anywhere in the country?"
Positive Counterstatement: "Cold calling is a learned skill that anyone can master. All I have to do is find a successful adviser in my firm who is consistently cold calling and learn their process. Then, I can practice it and increase my cold calling skills."
The perfectionist adviser
"I have to hit my gross goals this month!"
Relief Question: "What is the worst thing that could possibly happen if I don't hit my gross goals for this month? Is that so bad?"
Positive Counterstatement: "Hitting my monthly gross goal is just a function of having a consistently filled pipeline and closing it. I can prospect daily, build a great pipeline and close people. I've done it before!"
Using these strategies for identifying your inner adviser and conquering negative self-talk will help you get off of the emotional rollercoaster.
Daniel C. Finley is the president of Advisor Solutions Inc., a business development consulting and coaching service for financial advisers. A former adviser, he is now a business development consultant, coach, author, speaker, group coaching facilitator and creator of The Advisor Solutions System (a 24-week group coaching program) and The Monday Morning Motivation www.advisorsolutionsinc.com/free.html . He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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