After more than a decade of biz coaching work, I’ve noticed that solopreneurs struggle with asshole brain in VERY specific ways that often end in self sabotage. So!
Let’s walk through six really friggin common ways asshole brain will mess with you and your work.
I’ve been living with depression and its kissing cousin, asshole brain, for more than 2 decades now. PLEASE let yourself learn from this work without shame or guilt! Each subset links to a podcast episode or article of mine that will help you explore each aspect of overcoming asshole brain a bit further.
Asshole Brain will tell you to give up.
It will tell you to abandon…everything. Absolutely everything.
The specifics may include: your career, your work, your marriage, your internal goals, your boundaries, your hopes, your friends, and your fiercest talents.
Asshole brain always has a word about what you’re doing, why it absolutely sucks, and why you should give up. ALWAYS.
What if you go all in instead? <– This is the tale of losing many thousands of dollars on a business event, and why that was not the worst thing that ever happened to me.
More subtly, asshole brain will try to get you to walk away from the work you’re doing at this moment.
You sat down to work on that project or painting or piece of writing.
You’re finally answering those emails and DMs and voicemails and messages and texts.
You’re all set to begin tackling that organization project or those systems you need to set up or to create an email list to connect with your peeps.
But suddenly! The laundry! The phone! The need to doomscroll! The kids’ needs that aren’t at all urgent but WOW IT’S BETTER THAN DOING THIS!
Also you’re hungry! You’re tired! You need to ‘just check in on’ social media before you can begin! The toilet needs to be cleaned URGENTLY! And on and on it goes.
Asshole brain fights for control of your thoughts by letting you get to the knife’s edge of doing your work in the world — and then it pipes up about THE URGENT NEED TO BE DOING ANYTHING ELSE.
But. What if you get fierce about your priorities and identify the actions that actually move the needle of YOUR business forward? Lemme show you how to get started.
Should you find ways to do your work consistently, asshole brain does NOT want you to be seen.
When you enter into doing work that’s public in some way — say, for example, you’re a business owner who puts anything at all on the internet 😉 — asshole brain will curl into the mental equivalent of an armadillo under threat.
Nothing goes in or out.
Remain still and hope for the best.
You’re basically in vulnerability bunker mode.
This armadillo phase results in hiding, freaking out, procrastinating, and possibly buying other people’s tools/prompts/done-for-you kits so you can have something to say. It might also end with repeating what ‘works’ even if it doesn’t enrich your soul in any capacity.
::cough aggressive sales funnels and tripwires cough::
Unfortunately, being truly seen is the only sustainable way to feel as if we belong anywhere.
If vulnerability gives you the heebie jeebies, listen to or read Vulnerability 101. I’ll walk you through ways to begin to be vulnerable online. (It’s something I’ve been doing for 11 years now!)
If your particular fear of being seen involves having an email list and sending zero communications per year, check out How to F*#*ing Communicate! This short class and workbook combo will help you figure out what to send, and when, with less stress and fewer freakouts. Promise.
Oooh another one! Asshole brain remembers every bit of training that you’re veering from when you decide to try something new. It wants you to do everything ‘right.’
Those college classes that weren’t helpful but were ‘official’ in some way? It remembers.
The courses and coaches and teachers and mentors who have had an opinion about your work over the years? It remembers.
Asshole brain will beat you up about all the ways you’re veering from the path, even as it also declares the VERY SAME PATH stupid and useless and then concludes that you should just give up anyway. (SEE HOW SNEAKY THIS MOTHERFUCKER IS????)
You don’t have to do anything the way everyone else is doing it. You don’t have to whip up business offerings that look like what everyone else is making.
You don’t even give a fuck about what your past mentors have said. <– I once paid $20,000 to take part in a mastermind and, over the course of the years following, to UNlearn everything I had learned in that space. Unlearning has been a deeply difficult and ultimately satisfying pursuit, ’cause now I can help you Go Your Own Way in business.
Should you succeed in making a thing! Asshole brain will try to negate the work you’re doing because it isn’t ‘official’ in some way.
Maybe you’re trying something new.
Maybe you’ve recently taken up a hobby.
Maybe you finished creating your next business product and it’s ready for launch.
Maybe you have written nonfiction all your life and you’d just like to write a single poem.
This is when asshole brain will remind you that you’re a [JOB TITLE HERE], not a [MAKER OF THE THING YOU JUST MADE].
It will also get really hung up on titles and certifications and degrees and ways that you can’t possibly be qualified to do the thing you just friggin did.
What if you let your deep knowing drive the bus? What if you didn’t listen to the voices that say you’re not qualified or certified or capable of doing the things you’ve already done? We can work around being ‘official’ when we’re in touch with our intuition.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, in which you are basically frozen in place! Asshole brain wants you to THINK about your work more than it wants you to DO your work.
When you think about writing the book or painting the painting or building the website or helping the clients or opening the studio or renting the office, you’re fine. Pin 3,000 photos of your dream office to Pinterest and your brain is SO FUCKING HAPPY. You’re SAFE. You’re in Imagination Land, flitting from flatlay inspiration to new website template idea to paint colors to furniture choices to planning your perfect bookshelf.
Action makes asshole brain freak out.
When you call to make an appointment for touring the office or write another 1,000 words for your novel or investigate website hosting or send out the invitations to the open house, asshole brain goes into full blown freakout mode.
Making and sharing your truest work is vulnerable. And asshole brain doesn’t want to be vulnerable. (See: vulnerability 101 — you can do this!)
If you’re the thinking-about-it-thinking-about-it-thinking-about-it type, what’s the smallest bit of action that needs to happen in order to move your work forward? You’re capable of taking those steps.
If overthinking is a HUGE problem for you… The M-School podcast series will help you place some structure around your daily work, as well as help you reframe your weekly schedule in a way that’s both enduring and flexible. (M stands for Magic, and I’m fairly certin you’ll love everything about M-School!)
If procrastination, the need to go back to school or be ‘official,’ the constant critique of ‘you’re doing it wrong,’ amped up distractions, and the ever-present ‘just give up’ chant don’t take you out of the game, asshole brain gets more subtle.
In some cases, you’ll prioritize others’ work over your own. You’ll find no time for your ‘real’ work and let other people’s needs take over your schedule.
This is easy to do if you’ve got kids! You could take 30 minutes to work on that thing, or you could cut out early and go back to the ever-present needs of tiny beings. This becomes a habit, et voila! You’ve never got time to do YOUR work again.
Similarly, you might prioritize grant seeking or fundraising for your clients or beloved organizations, not yourself. You might convince yourself that you’re not that big a deal, and anyway the deadline for that grant is close at hand. You’ve got no time. You’ve got no chance. (AND there we are, back at ‘you should probably give up.’ Asshole brain is predictable that way!)
I used to spend HOURS ghostwriting for clients each day before I would work on my own blog or podcast or books or classes. It was only by consciously shifting my schedule to be mine first, others second that I shifted out of this mode of asshole brain.
In other cases, asshole brain might convince you that your career doesn’t allow for this — whether this is a promotion, a demotion, starting a business, stepping away from your business, or shifting gears into a new realm. Also it will say you should probably go back to school, thus delaying this shift for a number of years. It might even go on about how you should be at the next level (which doesn’t exist), and how your failure to be at the ‘next level’ means you should give up.
OH MY GOD IT’S SO CYCLICAL, ISN’T IT? WE’RE RIGHT BACK AT THE BEGINNING, WITH YOU GIVING UP. ::facepalm::
Asshole brain’s ultimate goal is to keep you safe. This often means saying whatever it takes to keep you small, stuck, taking no risks, spinning in overwhelm (here’s how to stop the overwhelm), overthinking your every move, and generally freaking out.
This should be the part where I have an AMAZING OFFER that will SOLVE YOUR LIFE. Alas! Asshole brain isn’t one of those things you can outrun or outmaneuver in a single move.
The work of overcoming your particular flavor of asshole brain is a lifelong endeavor. (Read: it’s a real pain in the ass.)
You can do this.
You can refuse to believe the worst things your brain says about you.
You can make shifts that help you get your work done with less static from your thoughts.
You can learn to be vulnerable with your work.
You can begin to communicate regularly about your business with your clients.
You can allow yourself to dream, to grow, and to expand without losing months to procrastination or overwhelm.
You. Can. Do. This.
If you’d like my help doing it, please check out KK on Tap. We’ll tackle your particular flavor of asshole brain while making strides toward creating your most profitable and meaningful business.
P.S. I love you, keep going.