How Loving Myself Forward Helps Me in Business



LYF Meme
© Phyllis Capanna

I’m starting a guided mastermind group with live human beings who have signed up to join me in physical space. These people are working on a project or a business and themselves, and I’ve managed to convince them that I can help them.

The group is starting tomorrow. Yesterday, just to refresh my memory, so long has it been since inception to launch, I re-read all my promo materials. I saw in the videos and posts that I appear to know what I’m talking about. But I’ve never run a mastermind, and I’ve never succeeded in business. I just really believe in myself.

I have a counseling degree, and I dub myself a behavioral pragmatist because of the work I do as an occupational therapist. Between the two types of experience, plus the fact that I’m an INFJ, I’m a quick sizer-upper and I can identify a pivot point like nobody’s business.

A pivot point is basically the place where making a change will have the greatest impact on the whole. But my biggest asset has developed quite recently, in fact, in the face of starting this group.

Long ago, I quit college in order to write. I hadn’t yet developed my super-power of hearing the ring of truth and the thud of self deception, so I accepted that story and expected everyone else to, too. Mostly I wanted them to leave me alone about it. Eventually, of course, they did.

But inside, I felt completely unequal to this thing called life. I was sure I couldn’t make it in academia (I’m still sure, but for an entirely different reason.) I didn’t know the first thing about writing, publishing, or any of that. I just wanted to dream about doing it.

And I wanted to live. I actually wanted to work my shitty job in Kenmore Square, Boston, slinging coffee, sandwiches, cigarettes and lottery tickets to every single person in the city, collect a modest paycheck and hang out with my friends drinking and making up songs. It was the first time I’d had fun since, well, ever.

Phyllis behind the Counter
The author, circa 1977, slinging coffee at Kenmore Deli, Boston, MA. Photographer unknown.

At the start of this new year, I said this would be the year I would have success in my business. By that I meant I’d put out another book (in progress) and do something in real time with real people using my skills, enjoying myself and helping them have better lives, and get paid for it. The first thing I encountered, although it took me a while to recognize it, so familiar to me, so “home,” was that 21-year-old college drop-out who still felt unequal to this thing called life.

What I had to do was finally take care of her. I had to listen to her, and I had to pay attention to those feelings. I had to see how far down those roots had grown, how that one moment of failure and withdrawal had colored so many decisions and failures to make decisions. How I’d labored under the reality that “I won’t be able to do this.”

I faced the fact that many of the things I’ve tried to do in the intervening years have been to compensate for this feeling. They haven’t, because nothing can. There is nothing and no one who can compensate for a feeling inside me of being less-than.

Tweet: There is nothing and no one who can compensate for a feeling of being less-than.

I did some serious crying and spent days with puffy eyes and ragged hair, living this reality down to its core: “I can’t. I’m scared. I’m all alone. I’m going to fail miserably. No one will care.”

I had to appreciate that what I’d been through without having the capacity to acknowledge it, name it, or deal with it in any sort of healthy way, was real. That it colored everything, my love-hate relationship with money, my approach-avoidance with work, success, fulfillment, and identity. That it was still hanging out, waiting to be taken care of. In many ways, I’ve been that 21-year-old all this time, through great ideas, failed ideas and many, many cheap business cards.

As winter turned to spring, I came to a pivot point. I was acutely and painfully aware of the limitations I’ve placed on myself out of a deep-seated feeling of inadequacy. I also started owning that I’ve longed for someone else to come along and tell me who I am and what I’m good at. I’ve hoped that fate or luck would place things in my path to nudge me one way or the other so I wouldn’t have to make a choice for myself, because obviously, I wouldn’t be able to make a good one.

It became obvious that the healing thing would be for me to choose something that my gut said I would be equal to, that I cared about, that would be worth succeeding at, and then do my best to make it happen.

So, I had the idea of the mastermind, and I started before I could talk myself out of it. I set a price that felt fair. Instead of discounts I gave bonuses. I created videos, blog posts and emails. I used all my social media and real life connections. I’ve actually enjoyed telling people about it, because I believe in it. I made calls, I talked with people and helped them come to a decision. I listened to concerns and answered them. I put it out there, again and again, with ease. I’ve had people sign up and pay deposits. They’ve all agreed to be there.

Today’s anxiety is understandable. I’m a seat-of-the-pantser. I don’t know until I do know what the moment will call for and what’s going to come out of my mouth. I’ve prepared some ideas, of course, but I’ve left plenty of room for the unknown. That kind of open-endedness nearly kills me. What if there’s a giant gulf between their expectations and what I have planned to deliver?

Here’s what if: No matter what happens, I’ll work with it. Because that’s my job. From the beginning of the idea until 1 p.m. tomorrow, it’s been about me filling a group. From 1 p.m. on, it’s about them. I’ve done my work. I have nothing to prove. I did my best, and I’ll continue to do my best, because that’s who I am, and because I believe in what I’m doing. I learned that in self-healing school: The best thing you can do for your own self confidence is to believe in what you’re doing.

Tweet: The best thing you can do for your own self confidence is to believe in what you’re doing.

For someone who always secretly hoped I’d fail early so I wouldn’t fail publicly, this is gold. This is growth. I’ll be okay. And then I’ll go on to the next idea, and I’ll have no trouble marketing that one, either, because it will never again be about proving myself so much as it will be about standing for something. And that, I can do.

Tweet: When marketing is about proving yourself or convincing somebody else, it’s a chore. When it’s about standing for something, it’s easy.

Till next week,


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by Phyllis Capanna © 2016 joyreport

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0 thoughts on “How Loving Myself Forward Helps Me in Business

  1. Great to get caught back up with what’s going on in your life, after a hiatus. Love the “the best thing I can do for my self confidence is to believe in myself,” or however you put it. It’s a question of ACTION. And I admire your action. It inspires me to continue with my daily action. We have a puppy now which accounts for the hiatus. It also accounts for scatteredness. For awhile there I didn’t have a life. I’m now writing again during the puppy naps. I’m learning to put my work first and put the puppy down for a nap whether the puppy wants it or not. Action. Keep going. Love, deb.

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