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Taming The Midnight Mind Chatter - Discipline Equals Freedom

Updated: Mar 20

Here we will share our stories, and some of yours. We will be real, honest, hopefully inspiring, and give you some epic food for thought!

Blog- Taming The Midnight Mind Chatter - Discipline Equals Freedom

by Julie Robbins

One of the things I have always tried to do in my coaching is get the chatter out of my clients heads.  You know…the incessant chatter, judgment, negative thoughts that we listen to in our heads every day. (and every night!)

If you’re a business owner - or are invested in, or passionate about, something in your life, this chatter is probably worse for you than others.  Why?  Because you are responsible for the success or failure of it, plain and simple.  So everything you do - or don’t do - big or small, is another thing to stress about.

I’ve known so many business owners (my former self included) who have trouble sleeping at night.  Whether it’s taking forever to fall asleep because you can’t stop thinking or that you wake up in the middle of the night and you can't get back to sleep. 

Sometimes the thoughts are about big decisions you have to make, or it may be ideas you have for the business, but often it’s - what I call - the bullshit.  Maybe you recognize some of the bullshit….

  • Something happened with a client/customer and now you keep repeating it in your head wondering how to handle it, how you could have handled it better, doubting yourself, etc.

  • Bills that need to be paid and you’re stressing about where the money is going to come from.

  • An unsavory interaction with a vendor that has you stewing.

  • All the “To Do’s” you have that are overwhelming your brain.

  • An upcoming situation that you're fretting about.

  • Money, money, money.

You get the idea.

I used to have sleepless nights for years.  The stress of not sleeping and overthinking was exhausting and made me not want to own a business anymore.

And then one day it changed.  

I have never been very good at consistency, follow through, or finishing things. 

The word discipline was like a four letter word.  I needed my freedom. 

And then it hit me and practically shouted in my ears…..Discipline equals Freedom!  At first I was very resistant because it sounded completely counter intuitive, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  Why not give some structure to the bullshit?

But, how to make the transition?

I started with making a list of all the things that stressed me out - including the time sucks, the frustrating situations, the worries - in other words, all the thoughts that were keeping me up at night. Ironically, you have to really listen to that mind chatter in your head in order to get rid of it! You have to ask it questions and question its source.

For example - if you're lying up at night picturing the same argument you had with a client about them needing to respect your time over and over again, wondering how you could have handled it differently or what else you could have said - instead look beyond that moment. Ask yourself how you got to that moment to begin with. Was there something you could have put in place that would have prevented this in the first place - perhaps having a cancellation policy in place?

Instead of judging yourself, empower yourself. Look at the same scenario as that of a wise observer, detached from the emotions or outcome of the moment. Just ask yourself what pro-active thing can be done to prevent this from happening in the future?

From here, you create policy. Once you have the policy in place, you can create a system around it.

Using the example from above: You decide that you want a cancellation policy that all clients are to give a minimum of 24 hours notice if they want to cancel their appointment, otherwise they are charged for the time (you can make exceptions, like a medical emergency). Now you can create the system to execute the policy. This could simply be adding your cancellation policy to your existing client agreements that they sign off on.

When you have structure, systems, and policies in place and you have a rock solid way to adhere to them and to pivot when needed, SO much of the bullshit goes away.  

Here’s the key though…once you have become disciplined with your plans, systems and policies, you also need to discipline your mind or your mind will find other bullshit to focus on.   After all, we’ve conditioned ourselves to judge, over analyze situations, and worry endlessly. 

So, now you have to re-train your brain!

When those thoughts start to creep in - you need to stop them in their tracks and train your mind not to go there.  It’s helpful to choose an image or 'saying' in these moments.  For me, it was “I’ve got you covered, you shall NOT pass!” 

That simple statement was very powerful for me.  It meant that I have what I need in place to handle whatever comes my way and I will not allow those negative thoughts to enter - I stop them in their tracks.  In the beginning, I sometimes had to say this several times and/or shift my energy with music or guided meditation.  But after a short while, the thoughts stopped.

AND, even better, it cleared up real estate in my head so I could focus on more joyful and productive things.  And I STARTED SLEEPING… really sleeping.  An unexpected bonus was that I was more confident in what I was doing. 

I am someone who loves spontaneity and freedom.  So it may seem odd that I’m promoting discipline. 

But, the truth is, the time and effort you put towards being disciplined will provide you with so much more time to be spontaneous and free.

If you're curious about putting systems and policies in place, a business map is a great way to start!

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