There is a story that goes about a guy that has a black dog and a white dog. The white dog is lovely and a good dog. The black dog is not good – it is a mean dog and fierce. He is telling someone that he is not happy with the black dog, but it continues to get worse. The person he is telling simply says to starve the black dog and feed the white dog. If you continue to feed the black dog it will get stronger and stronger, but you really want the white dog to get stronger so you need to feed it.
This is an analogy of course – please do not starve any real dogs! This story is actually about the thoughts in your head. If you have good thoughts, you want to feed them, keep thinking them, make them bigger and stronger. Whilst if you have black thoughts, those bad or negative thoughts, you want to ‘starve’ them. That is, don’t give them any further thought or power.
Don’t get me wrong here. It is simple to write these words, but remember this is not theory. I have had plenty of black dog thoughts in my time, especially with health challenges added to business challenges. In my experience, every business owner goes through some ‘black dog’ times. You just can’t help it as in every business, at some point it gets a bit overwhelming.
As a franchisee, the best way to starve the black dog as fast as possible is to ask for help. Work out where the black thoughts are stemming from and then ask for the assistance in that area.
Is it that you need more customers? Talk to your franchise support manager or the marketing manager if you are lucky enough to have one.
Is it something technical in your business? Talk to the operations manager or your technical support team.
I have found for that most people that the black thoughts do not just appear by themselves. Something usually happens to trigger them and then you get caught in the spiral of bad thoughts. It is often when we put an emotion onto something that doesn’t need an emotion.
If you are really feeling those black thoughts, then seek professional help. I’m no psychologist and as much as I can listen, sometimes the person I’m talking too needs help that I just can’t give. Asking for help is the biggest and best thing you can do as a franchisee, but I do understand, especially when you are having negative thoughts and feel on a downward spiral, it can be the hardest thing to do.
Look for ways to find the positives in things. I have a couple of sayings that you can ‘borrow’ that help me.
When things are not going quite the way I want (eg. wrong!), then I will say ‘Everything happens for a reason’ and usually it does. I go after a big deal and it doesn’t come off. I could be sad and disappointed, but what if the next day an even better deal comes across my path, that if I had got the first deal, I couldn’t have taken this new opportunity. So was missing the first deal actually a bad thing? No, I just didn’t know that yet, hence why I say ‘Everything happens for a reason’.
The other thing you can say to yourself is ‘Reset’. Simply imagine that you own a big reset button on your life. When your thoughts get away from you or you have a bad day, imagine at night that you can go to a wall in your house and push a big reset button and then the next day, you start your journey of life again with a great attitude, a positive outlook and a smile on your face, leaving the troubles of the day before behind you.
When things are going wrong, it can be really hard. It is hard to explain in the words of a book what to do when you have these negative thoughts. Everyone’s thoughts are different, everyone’s life is different, everyone’s challenges are different.
Be aware when you can feel the black thoughts rising and start to starve them before they get out of control. Awareness is the key. Often times we allow them to run wild just as we would that black dog. Imagine having a furious, mean dog on the loose. Would you allow that to happen? No, it would probably bite you or perhaps even maul you. This is what your thoughts can do, they can maul you and leave you injured and bleeding. Get those thoughts on a strong, short leash and then train your brain to keep them in control. Don’t ignore them, get them under control and retrain your brain to handle the black thoughts.
Business can be tough, but this is the best thing about being in a franchise. There is help available to eliminate some of those problems that are causing the negative thinking. There are other franchisees that totally understand what is happening for you – look for those that can help, not feed the black thoughts. If the thoughts are really quite out of control or more personal in nature, go find professional help, just as you would if you had been bitten by a dog. If you had been bitten by a dog and you were bleeding from your leg, you wouldn’t allow a neighbour to stitch you up, you’d go to a doctor. Get the proper help from the people that know how to help you – even if it is just to listen so you can ‘vent’ and get those thoughts out of you so you can move on.
Starve the black thoughts, but more importantly, be aware when they are starting to rise.