It’s quite common for professional photographers to adopt a victim mindset when their businesses aren’t doing as well as they’d like. They blame their lack of success on every excuse under the sun:
- My equipment isn’t “good enough”
- Other photographers in my market have better connections than me
- Other photographers are using SEO hacks to rank higher than me on Google
- I don’t have the time to create content – and no one reads it anyway!
- The market is saturated with other photographers like me, so what’s the point?
Visit any professional photographer forum and you’ll see plenty of folks bitching and moaning about how the odds are stacked against them to succeed.
I know this to be true because, once upon a time, I was that person.
For the first few years of my business, I would see other New York City photographers building and growing profitable portrait businesses while I was barely hanging on by a thread.
I became a jealous, angry and resentful person who was, quite frankly, a pain in the ass to be around. I was always in a bad mood, constantly playing the blame game while rifling off the laundry list of “reasons” for my lack of success.
The final straw was that I started to become resentful of my personal photographer friends who were further along and more successful than I was. I recognized there was a problem and knew I needed help to get past these derailing thoughts.
Eventually, my come-to-Jesus moment occurred when I enrolled in an Applied Positive Psychology certificate course that essentially smacked me in the face and helped me realize what truly is important when it comes to living a fulfilling life.
I saw a lot of ugly in how I processed other people’s success.
After the 6-month program was completed, I no longer sought to find excuses, because…It’s not about the equipment. It’s not about what other photographers are doing.
It’s all about my mindset.
A POSITIVE MINDSET IS THE FOUNDATION FOR GROWTH
When your mind is clear and unburdened with negative self-talk, this unlocks your ability to think creatively, become proactive and actionable, and dream of new possibilities. This way, it’s so much easier to create a focused and clear plan of execution when it comes to how you market your business, operate all of your backend responsibilities…
…and, oh yeah, create better photos and experiences for those you serve from behind the camera.
You no longer interpret the world and everything that happens in your life through a lens of scarcity – I’ll take whatever clients come my way regardless if they’re a good fit.
Instead, you see abundance – there’s more than enough jobs to go around for everyone, and not everyone who needs photos is a fit to work with me, and that’s okay.
Easier said than done, right?
Although living with an abundance mindset is an intention that takes consistent effort in all areas of your life, you can start to take ownership of your thoughts in a way that fosters a more positive outlook for your photography business through the process of cognitive reframing.
[Related Reading: 12 Daily Work Habits From 12 Successful Photographers]
COGNITIVE REFRAMING FOR THE WIN
Wouldn’t it be amazing to simply hit the “delete” button in our mind the moment that the negative chatter is triggered from a conversation, interaction or simply looking through your social media news feed?
The bad news is we don’t have that kind of technology available – yet, :)
The good news is cognitive reframing offers an extremely practical solution in the face of this challenge, and helps you get back to a more positive and productive mindset.
Cognitive reframing is a psychological intervention that consists of identifying and challenging anxious, angry, and other thoughts that don’t serve you. You replace them with something more positive, logical and realistic. Rather than simply attempting to strong-arm a belief out of your head forever, you’re addressing these thoughts head-on.
Regardless of how irrational these thoughts may be, honor that they showed up in your mind for a reason because avoidance of these negative feelings will make it worse by continuing the negative thought loop. The longer that thought loop runs laps in your mind, the less likely you will be inspired to act.
If you’re not inspired to act, a long day of ruminating over thoughts that were completely made up in your head is bound to keep you unproductive and, ultimately, unhappy. Rather than dealing with client on-boarding, retouching photos, or any of the other tasks you need to complete throughout your workday, your business is stuck in neutral while you spend your time yelling, crying, and/or staring at a blank wall in disgust and shame.
Cognitive reframing helps you get out of your own way.
SO HOW DO YOU COGNITIVELY REFRAME YOUR THOUGHTS?
During one of the Positive Psychology lectures on mindset, we were introduced to a variety of cognitive reframing interventions to leverage in order to help ourselves to avoid entering the emotional dark side.
One of these interventions involved a series of questions you can ask yourself the moment you become aware of the negative mind chatter bubbling up:
- Is this thought useful/not useful?
- Is this thought life enhancing/diminishing?
- Does this thought help me show up in the world the way that I want?
- How does this thought serve me?
Rather than simply going with yes or no, allow yourself to expand on the thought by elaborating on the why behind the answer. It’s in the elaboration that affords you the chance to uncover the root cause of these feelings making their way into your consciousness.
By answering these questions, you’re counter-balancing an irrational thought borne out of emotion with logic and reason. As a result, you’re avoiding an unproductive trip down a negative rabbit hole and opting to stay focused and attentive to the present moment.
The more you ask yourself these questions while in the heat of the emotional moment, the more you’re strengthening your resilience muscles, which helps to ultimately minimize these types of irrational thoughts from happening in the first place.
The more resilient you are, the more abundant your outlook on life will become.
[Related Reading: How Haters are Destroying the Photography Industry – 2019 Update]
KEEP THESE QUESTIONS HANDY!
The next time you come across a photographer who posts about how awesome life and business is going, be intentional about silencing your negative self-talk before it becomes unwieldy and out-of-control.
Acknowledge other photographer’s successes, and use it as motivation for yourself to keep pushing towards meeting and exceeding your own goals with your business.
Your mindset is one of your most important assets.
Learn to harness that power to create magical work and wonderful experiences for those you serve.