Several years ago, I noticed my brain doing this really weird thing in the middle of the night. It happened so often, I gave it a nickname: “doom spiraling.”
Here’s how it usually went: I’d wake up between the hours of 2 – 4 am and have a feeling of dread in my body. My brain would then start imagining the worst scenarios about everything in my life: my business sustaining a massive tech failure that would render years of work lost forever, my sister’s kids getting hurt accidentally, something terrible happening to me or someone I loved.
On and on these horrendous thoughts would spiral. What struck me most was how REAL and CERTAIN these thoughts felt. After being awake for an hour or two suffering, I’d finally fall asleep. It was what happened when I woke up that taught me one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about Boundary Capacity™ in my entire adult life.
It’s a “missing piece” about boundaries that makes one of the biggest differences in whether or not we’re able to achieve what we say we want in our lives and work.
I can say with confidence that even if you think you have boundaries down PAT. You don’t have this aspect of boundaries down. What is it? Read on.
Here’s what surprised me about “doom spiraling.” Every time I’d fall asleep after a doom spiral, I was certain my life was over as I knew it. But in the morning, I’d wake up and think “but I don’t feel that way right now, I feel fine! Why was I so convinced these horrible things were true at 4 am?”
I didn’t know the answer to that question. What I did know is it was affecting my sleep, which threw off my hormones and made my face break out. So now this doom spiraling was causing problems with my capacity because I didn’t want to be seen on camera, which is a problem when you use video to market your business.
It also affected my mood. Even though I felt better when I woke up after a doom spiral, the thoughts were still in the background. This created an unconscious, constant low-grade anxiety. This wore out my adrenal glands. Dealing with normal challenges in my business suddenly felt harder and the motivation to push forward and get things done was lower than it’d ever been. And let me tell you, building and running a successful business requires HUGE amounts of “get up and go.”
This didn’t bode well for the business goals and revenue.
I always tell clients “When you’re a CEO, your body is like a finely tuned sports car. If the Ferrari isn’t getting good maintenance and fuel, it’s not going to perform like a Ferrari should. Your business or career WILL start to suffer.”
Seeing the negative full-spectrum effects “doom spiraling” was having on me, I set out to solve this problem. One day I found something in my research that simultaneously shocked me and made a lightbulb go off in my head. It was the solution to not only my doom spiraling, but my CEO and business woes.
What I discovered that day totally reshaped what I teach about boundaries when I work with clients on their Boundary Capacity™.
In one of the many research articles I read, there was a snippet that talked about the different regions of your brain that are “asleep” at night. Turns out there’s a region of your brain that protects you from excessive “survival instinct/worst-case scenario” thoughts. And that region of your brain is DORMANT around 2-4 am.
That means you’re totally unprotected from your worst possible thoughts if you wake up at that time of night. There’s no checks and balances. So you’re more likely to believe those “worst case scenario” thoughts and freak out.
No WONDER this kept happening to me. On that day, I learned I couldn’t trust any thoughts that came to me at that time of night. And that meant it was time for me to walk my talk and do some serious expansion of my Boundary Capacity. Except this time, it wasn’t setting boundaries with other people…
It was setting better boundaries with my own mind. Frankly, these are the HARDEST boundaries to set. Because learning how to curb deeply ingrained thought patterns is HARD work. You’re essentially having to build the capacity to see a spiral happening and say ‘NO. I will NOT go down this path today,” and then re-direct. WAAAY easier said than done.
So I started practicing this. You know how in movies, when kids have nightmares, they tell the monster in their dream “you’re not real” and poof the monster disappears? I tried doing exactly that. But in the first week, the doom spiral was too strong to fully be stopped in its tracks. After weeks of practicing, simply saying to myself “look it’s 4am, you can’t trust anything your mind is telling you right now. None of this is real”…something amazing happened…
I finally started to see results. Now I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not waking up every night at 4 am at all. And when I do, I remind myself “these thoughts aren’t real” and I go right back to sleep. It’s a HARD BOUNDARY I’ve set with my own brain, that I’m not going to allow myself to buy what those horrible thoughts are selling.
My health concerns are all resolved. I’m sleeping 7-8 full hours, no more breakouts, energy is through the roof, mood is fabulous. That’s the power of expanding your Boundary Capacity.
So what does this have to do with you? Everything. In fact, I think this ability to set strong boundaries with yourself is what makes the difference between a successful person and one who still doesn’t feel successful.
You may not be waking up at 4 am like I was and “doom spiraling” in that way. But you’re doom spiraling in other ways.
Like my past client, Gina, whose entire team quit in the middle of her launch. She wasn’t meeting her sales benchmarks in the first week of enrollment opening, so she kept “doom spiraling” telling herself her launch was already a failure, even though there were still three weeks left for people to sign up.
She made slow sales in the first week mean: “no one likes me which is why they don’t want to sign up for my program,” “I shouldn’t have raised the price, it’s too high for people now,” “I’m a bad CEO and no one wants what I have to offer.”
She didn’t have good Boundary Capacity (aka no self-boundaries) so she took all the anguish those doom-spiral thoughts made her feel out on her team. She was awful to deal with, so they all quit. Two weeks later, all the sales came in at the last minute and now she had NO team to help her deliver the program to her clients.
Or how about my past client Andrea, who came to me because her business was at a plateau and she couldn’t attract a partner who was supportive of her career. When we dug deeper, I discovered her ex-boyfriend had been jealous of her business growth and broken up with her because of it. Eventually he’d started dating a less ambitious woman and Andrea couldn’t stop herself from stalking all their pictures on Instagram.
Every time she stalked his account, she’d walk away feeling horrible about herself, thinking there was something “wrong” with her for wanting a hugely successful business. She let her brain doom-spiral and told herself her ambition made her “unlovable,” therefore there were “no men available who’d be supportive of her ambition.” It was a lie, but she didn’t possess the capacity to set a boundary with that lie her brain was telling her and NOT believe it.
So now she was subconsciously sabotaging her business growth (to be more lovable and less intimidating) AND assuming there were ZERO men available who’d love that she has a growing and successful career.
She spent two years plateauing in business and lonely until we started working together on her Boundary Capacity. Within six months, she met a man who’d been around her for years. She just couldn’t see him because of her own boundary capacity issues. That same man is now her husband and father of her child. And her business has long ago surpassed her biggest goals.
Do you see why I’m always telling you that having the best business or life “strategist” in the world isn’t going to help you? You can have the perfect launch plan, the perfect team setup, the right strategy…and yet your Boundary Capacity deficits will make it so that none of that matters.
Gina had an amazing launch plan, yet couldn’t keep a team for more than a few months at a time because of capacity issues. Andrea had a perfect life, a great business and yet was plateauing and lonely because of deficits in her self-boundaries.
Having great capacity to STOP your doom spiraling thoughts in their tracks before they derail you is ninja-level skills that the world’s most successful people possess. It’s not their strategies that ensure their success, it’s their capacity to not be derailed while implementing those strategies that creates the success.
It’s not your strategy, it’s your capacity. Every aspect of your capacity you expand and touch supercharges your strategies. And it’s not until you prioritize your capacity as equally as you do your strategy that you start to see the kind of results that are not just of your dreams, but BEYOND what you can even imagine in a dream.
Ps: If you’re ready to do that deeper dive into expanding your Boundary Capacity, we work on this in Capacity Shift™. One participant just successfully negotiated a corporate deal that is going to create six figures this year. Another set clear boundaries in her website application form and she’s no longer getting on sales calls with people who can’t afford her and closing 100% of her sales calls. All because of expanded Boundary Capacity.