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I saw a therapist today for the first time
Yup, I went to a therapist today. First time ever.
No, I did not lie down on a couch. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Over the last couple of months, I've been having very odd dreams where certain scenes and scenarios repeat themselves.
There are certain buildings that I've never seen in real life popping up in dreams over and over again. I sometimes find myself in a vehicle on a car lift about 50 feet above the ground, scared shitless. I'm often running away from or toward something. Weird, right?
So I decided to see a therapist to discuss my dreams.
Years ago, the alpha-male version of myself would have looked at someone who went to therapy as weak and fragile, and the thought of going to therapy would have never crossed my mind.
I'm a different person now, and I think it's because I'm an entrepreneur. For better or for worse.
My therapist said that dreams are the mind's way of processing everything around you. Your environment, everything that you do and deal with on a daily basis, and all your fears and anxieties can be manifested in your dreams.
And that's probably what's happening with my dreams. The stress and uncertainty of being a startup founder is the likely cause of my weird dreams. What these dreams mean is TBD.
Whenever I speak with people interested in startups and entrepreneurship, I say that managing your psychology is the hardest part.
Many of these budding entrepreneurs and founders are really smart people who have seen nothing but success in their careers. They've climbed the corporate ladder, obtained raises and promotions, and haven't failed at all.
I've been in their shoes before. So I warn them about how it feels when things aren't working. And things will not work a lot. Things haven't worked for me for five years.
I also tell them how good things feel when things do work, and how you have to celebrate little wins, as insignificant as they may be. This keeps you sane.
There's a great post titled "The case against entrepreneurship", where the Co-founder and former CEO of the mobile game Dots, Paul Murphy, describes how difficult entrepreneurship is. Paul describes a lonely and expensive existence full of problems, fear, and greed.
One of my favorite startup writers is Nate Kontny, CEO of CRM software Highrise. He wrote a recent piece titled "Making it personal" where he describes why he puts so much of his personal life into his content and talks about the lows as well as the highs.
This kind of content - real, raw pieces that highlight the tough parts of entrepreneurship - really resonates with me and my journey. Sure, the "how I grew my business 100% in 30 minutes" or "25 things you need to do before 5AM to be successful" articles are inspiring, but that shit gets old quickly. To the writers of these articles - I'm happy for your success, I really am. Maybe even a little envious. And you are inspiring. But I don't just want to hear about your success, I want to learn about everything you went through, even the tough times, to achieve it.
Anyway, back to therapy.
Entrepreneurship is hard. Tech startups are even harder. I knew that going into it.
Managing your psychology is one of the most important and difficult parts of being an entrepreneur. It's not helpful to keep everything inside and having it build up until you explode.
I'm not at any risk of hurting myself or anyone around me. Many might say that I don't truly need therapy. Maybe they're right. But I think talking to an objective, professionally-trained third party can help get my mind right, and I've chosen to do that.
Let's see how this goes.