How my mental health affects my role as CEO

Hello again,

If you follow me on LinkedIn or Instagram, you already know I’m a sucker for mental health, and I constantly talk about my struggles.

Today I want to share with you how mental health impacts my business.

I always say that Business is personal.

I don’t believe in this old paradigm that says you should wear your professional coat and leave the personal one at the door. It just creates a deeper disconnection within you. And God knows that in this uncertainty roller-coaster, you don’t need more disconnection from yourself!

So I want to share with you how my mental health became an obstacle in my entrepreneurial journey. Warning: it might be triggering!

First and foremost, let me share my definition of mental health.

There is no health without mental health. Period.

I see mental health as your internal state. This includes anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts, self-sabotage, numbness, addiction, perfectionism, workaholism (unhealthy) or boundaries, non-violent communication, self-awareness (healthy) etc.

How you feel on the inside, no matter the external circumstances.

If your mind is not in the right place, the body will follow, and no money, external recognition, or fame will heal it (even though you might think it will).

As a Founder, you often feel alone. No matter how many people are around you and how amazing your team is, nobody can really understand the internal roller-coaster you are going through. Being responsible for those people, trying to move the needle, and searching for resources while navigating your healing journey, family dynamics, and monsters in your closet is not easy.

My trauma work journey started 4 years ago. With a psychologist’s help, I returned to my childhood. I learned how my family and all the events impacted the soon-to-be adult me.

  • I learned that being busy and having a fully packed schedule is not a badge of honor but proof of my lack of boundaries.
  • That perfectionism, although rewarded by society, is a trauma response to not being seen by your family.
  • That people pleasing is a form of manipulating the perception of others that covers the fear of abandonment.
  • That high sensitivity and empathy is not a noble thing when it lacks boundaries, it is just a trauma response to a very unpredictive environment and you now have an internal radar that warns you when your safety is in danger (emotional and physical)
  • And manyyyyy more.

When you start a business, you take all your humanness, including past experiences, trauma responses, fears, and protective mechanisms.

You have a human experience while running a business. The Business is just the container, the context that pushes all your buttons to make you grow. The same is with being a parent, an employee, a fiancee etc.

What you experience in these roles is just the surface.

  • You are not mad at people not respecting your deadlines; you are mad because you don’t feel seen and accepted, and that leads to a spiral down your memory lane for all the times you felt that way.
  • You don’t react to negative feedback just from that moment, but you respond to how it makes you feel and what it reminds you about. Maybe it reminds you of when the only moment your mother paid attention to you was when she criticized you.

You get the point.

When you get an emotional reaction to something, always ask yourself: What is REALLY trying to tell me? What is this reminding me about? Dig deeper beyond the surface.

The purpose of this note was to share with you how my mental health impacts my CEO role, so here you have some specific examples.

Disclaimer: these are not conscious choices, is like having a program that runs in the background.

  • Since I was in a survival state where unpredictable environments were the norm, I feel uncomfortable when things are calm/easy/flowing. I know how to thrive in stress but not how to deal with happiness. Often this leads to self-sabotage and unconsciously trying to recreate the unpredictable environment. I do this by starting fights with my partner, excessively worrying, and looking for problems where they are not.
  • Questioning my decisions all the time or spending a lot of time to make sure I make the right call that often leads to rumination and sleepless nights
  • Trying to accommodate everybody’s needs above my own and adjust my schedule, working hours and so on to make room for them (hello, people pleaser wound!)
  • Feeling like a failure every time things are not going the way I want them to because they trigger my unworthy wound
  • Feeling ashamed when I take time for myself and not work on my Business since I learned that my value lies in the number of hours that I work (hello, hustle culture and helicopter parents!)
  • Being afraid of failure because it triggers abandonment issues and makes me feel like I will end up alone (hello, survival mood!)
  • And so many more

I’m sharing this not from a place of ‘‘poor me’’, but rather from a place of integrating all these AHAs and wanting to make talks like this a norm.

Because even if we are aware of them or not, they are real. It is something we all experience.

And for those of you who might think that this thing with mental health is just for ‘‘snowflakes,’’ I invite you to stop for a second, search within yourself, and question how you do what you do. That’s when you will get it.

My final thought is that the road to freedom is paved with tons of inner work, self-awareness, and life that aligns with who you are, not what you are conditioned to be.

Looking forward to hearing your ideas!

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