Stacy Fischer, the founder of The W Collective, is joining me on today's show. Her work centers on female founders, teaching them how to create how they want to feel in their business and their life. Today we'll be talking about how we can train our brains to be in control of our thoughts and how this can and should change our world, as well as all the things Stacy is rebelling against.
Tune into the Audio:
Michelle: Hi, Stacy. Welcome to the Rebel Rising podcast.
Stacy: Hi, Michelle.
Michelle: I'm so happy to have you on the show today because the work you're doing with founders and entrepreneurs is so incredible, and I think it's a different way of approaching business altogether, so I'm excited to dive in.
Stacy: I'm excited to be here.
Tell me, what are you rebelling against?
Stacy: Oh, I'm rebelling against a few things.
I'm rebelling mostly against this unconscious flow of life. I really want people to be more awakened to the thoughts that they're having in their heads, the feelings that those are creating, and really start to awaken that and use the power of their own mind to do some good work and some change in this world.
Stacy: And I'm also rebelling against all the fields that hold women back, most people back, but my work is with women, so I'm going to phrase that through the lens of women on this. Really holding women back, and it stops them from launching that great idea or living the dream that they have inside of them.
Really rebelling against that. I talk to women that have these brilliant ideas, but then the fear comes up or the doubt comes up or the “I could never do that,” and their idea is so good and could change so much for them, and they're just stuck on how it's making them feel.
Michelle: A couple of follow-up questions. Why do you think people don't have control over our thoughts?
Why do you think our mind just races around and runs away from us all the time?
Stacy: Yeah. A couple of reasons, one, that's just the way the human brain has evolved.
Our primitive brain and our prefrontal cortex have not kept up with each other.
The primitive brain kind of always wants there to be some danger, and it just kind of looks at that, and it's always kind of searching for how to keep us safe, right? In our evolution, that's the way that the brain has done, but current day, we're not really under the types of danger that we probably were … well, we're clearly not in the kinds of danger that we were as we were evolving, and that brain just hasn't kept up with that.
Stacy: And the other part is we're never taught that, right? We've never been pulled aside and said, “Listen. All of those tens of thousands of thoughts that you had in your brain every day? They're not all true. You don't have to believe them all. You don't have to act on all of them. And they're not necessarily you.
I think that's the really amazing part of us as humans is that we can have a thought about our own thinking.
Stacy: That higher level brain function of we can have a thought of, “Oh, I'm thinking this,” or, “I'm thinking that” and it's not until we start to separate that … because for so long, I think we're just patterned, and then the neural pathway comes of we just believe this thought we keep having. And until you start to become aware of it and start to disrupt and interrupt some of those thought patterns does that awareness even become like, “Oh, I don't even have to believe that,” or, “Do I even believe that?” You really start to question what you're choosing to believe.
I finally realized that I am not my thoughts.
And that was a huge “ah-ha” moment because our thoughts are so seductive, and so we think just because it pops into our head that it has to be right.
Stacy: Yeah. Or that it's true.
Michelle: Yeah. And that is not at all the case. I read something in a psychology magazine once that we have 80,000 thoughts a day or 60,000 thoughts a day and 80% of those are negative. And yet, we give those random thoughts so much attention and emphasis, and then do you think when we pay attention to, “Oh, since I'm thinking this thought that my idea sucks,” or, “I'm never going to be able to do that,” then does that play into the fear the people that you work with have?
Stacy: For sure because your brain doesn't know. Your brain just wants to believe what you're thinking, so it's going to be the one to be like, “That's not true.” Until you introduce the fact to your thought process that that may not be true, your brain is like, “Okay. We're thinking it, so it must be true.”
Michelle: Yes. Yes.
Stacy: It's not the voice of wisdom.
You have to become the voice of wisdom to your brain, not the other way around.
Michelle: Next question.
What advice do you have for people to start becoming more aware of their thoughts?
Stacy: Yeah. It's just that. It is really hearing me and many other teachers when they say, “You are not your thoughts.”
The same way that when you heard that, it gives you that, “What? What do you mean?” I'm the watcher. I like to be the observer or the watcher of your thoughts versus you are not your thoughts. And I didn't start to truly believe that until probably within about the last five years when I was introduced to this work.
You just think this is happening … it goes back to kind of when you ask me what I'm rebelling about, this unconscious flow through life is just happening. X happens, and then Y happens, and then Z happens, and unless you're really looking at each step along the way and questioning what's coming up for you, then you're not aware.
You're not going to make the more conscious choice, and you're not going to be able to create at the level you want to create what your life looks like.
Michelle: Yeah. And it's funny, I know for me, one of the things that helps me is I kind of treat my brain as a character, especially at night when you're tired, for me, it's so easy for my mind to be like, “I'm just going to run free. Run amuck,” and I'm always like, “Brain? What are you thinking right now? Why are thinking that?” And it just snaps me back to, “Okay. I'm on automatic pilot right now,” and I think that's a really important thing is that you always have to come back because in some ways, yeah, you're right, we're trained that's our natural state just to let our thoughts run away with us.
Stacy: Yeah. And I wish I had the answer to what it is about the minute that you go to lay down in bed, and then it's like here come all the ideas and all the things you didn't do and all the reason why it sucked. It's such a funny trick at night. A similar thing, I'm like, “Now, we are going to sleep.”
Michelle: Yes. Yes. Or my other one is when I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and all of the sudden, it's like, “I'm going to think all of these thoughts: did you pay this bill? Did you talk to this client? Did you do this thing? Did the cats have enough food?” And I'm like, “Oh my gosh. I just want to go back to bed.”
Stacy: Yes. When it kicks on like that, right? It's like you have to get up stumble and be like, “Don't wake up. Don't wake up. Don't wake up.”
Michelle: It's like the mantra, “Don't wake up. Don't wake up.”
Michelle: Tell me.
What change do you most want to create in the world with your work?
Stacy: So going with that, with people becoming aware that they are not their thoughts.
I want to see more people talking about the emotions in entrepreneurship.
I had started my first business with my then-roommate, now husband in 2001. And then I started the W Collective, the coaching practice that I have just a couple of years ago. And from 2001 to 2016, I'm guessing, late '16s when I started very different paths to entrepreneurship, which I love because now there are a lot more people entering this adventure and this journey, and there are some brilliant entrepreneurs coming out there.
Stacy: But, one thing that I don't think we are talking about is that negative emotions are going to come up.
It's not all fantastic.
Yes, there are bits and pieces of it that are fantastic and the freedom that comes with it and the way you get to work on your terms. There's also a lot of negative, if you want to call them negative, emotions or just emotions that don't feel as good and things that you're going to bump up against, and I don't think that we talk about that enough.
We don't talk about the fear and the imposter syndrome and the doubt and the ebbs and flows of cash sometimes, that feast or famine cycles that pretty much all kind of startups or entrepreneurs get into. And there are some brilliant, world-changing ideas out there that I feel get stifled. They get stuck because of that great unknown or because of that discomfort that comes up for that.
I would love for there to be more vulnerability and truth about what is hard in the path to entrepreneurship.
Michelle: Amen. I feel like we've been fed this line of bullshit basically where it's like, “Oh, you've always got to be positive, and the law of attraction doesn't work unless you have a positive mindset. Think positive thoughts.” And so then when things don't go well, all of a sudden, you blame yourself and not only that, there are not any good role models for what entrepreneurship actually looks like.
Stacy: Yeah. And you and I have talked a little bit about that before, too. It's this when that hard part comes up, then you think you've done it wrong. I'm not going to be a good enough entrepreneur because it shouldn't feel this way. Yes, it absolutely should feel that way.
Part of the time, it's going to feel really, really good, and part of the time, it's going to feel shitty, and that is the journey.
Michelle: Yes. And I don't think people want to admit publicly or even privately that they feel shitty.
Michelle: And that that's okay.
Stacy: Yeah. I would like to just see that just be a little braver, manage your mind … going back to when we start to look at our thoughts and manage your mind, manage your emotions and put it out into the world. Whatever level that is for you, whether it's you have a little idea that's just going to make you and your family better or your community better, or if you have this massive world-changing idea in your mind, and that's your entrepreneurial journey, please go for it.
The world needs whatever those brilliant ideas are just rattling around in people's brains, and I want to let them know that it's going to feel uncomfortable and there will be some tears and there will be some panic, and it's still 100% worth doing.
Michelle: Yes. Even though there are tears and there are headaches, it's 100% worth doing. I love that, and I think that is so important.
This is a little bit unplanned question, how have you been bringing that into how you're showing up in your business?
Stacy: Yeah. Definitely talking about it more. Similar things of just having the more honest conversations, having the vulnerability around it, and just talking about it more, especially when I get a younger entrepreneur or someone with this brand new business idea that's never done a business before, so I work with some people that have been in business a long time, and they've kind of ridden the roller coaster a few times, if you will. After you've been in business for a while, you're like, “Oh, this is just the way it's supposed to be.” Although, I did have my own little “ah-ha” in January, so not that long ago. I think even my brain wanted to mess with me a little bit, which is also just being human, but I had this realization like, “Oh, it's always going to be this way.”
Stacy: We've had our other company, like I said, since 2001, right? We're going on 18 years, and I keep thinking at one point, I thought it was going to get to this level where it just was, and finally, through even all of my own mind management and all of the really diving into it, I'm like, “Oh, it's just going to be this way,” which was kind of comforting because now I'm like, “I have the tools to manage it. I have the tools to do this work.” I really honestly thought that up until probably just last month that you got to this point where it was just all good.
Michelle: And it's like, “Oh, it's going to all be easy. The cash is always going to be there. It's going to be consistent.” And that's not necessarily true.
Stacy: Correct. It's like this is just part of what we do. We manage our minds, and we look at our emotions, and we decide what we're going to do, and we take the next step. There was actually like I said, there was true comfort in that because I think before, I was resisting it, right, thinking when I get to X level or when I get to this. Now, my brain is like, “We don't get there. This is just our work together.”
Michelle: Yes. We're always going to be doing this work and there's always going to be something else to figure and you know how to do that.
Stacy: Yeah. I think especially if we want to grow what we're building, right? As your business grows and as you grow as a person in relationships and with your teams or your co-founders or whoever you're doing work with, as you grow, in growth, there is that discomfort. That's where having these tools to look at your mind and look at the emotions around entrepreneurship, that's where I think the benefit is.
Michelle: Love it. I love it. You're 3 Word Rebellion is create how you feel.
Can you tell me what that means and how we go about doing it?
Stacy: Yeah. I love this, and I love the evolution of the way that it came out in our work together. I certified through Brook Castillo in the Life Coach School. In the model that we are taught at the Life Coach School, there are circumstances, those are things that just happen in your life, right? That's the facts of life. They're completely neutral until you have a thought about them. Once you have a thought about them, your thought creates your feeling, and your feeling is what's going to drive your action, your inaction, and your reaction. And from that, you get your result or the reality of what you're trying to create, right? It's this self-coaching model, which I know you're a fan of Brooke's and the model.
Michelle: Yes. I am.
Stacy: And it's the best tool to manage pretty much anything that comes up: life, love, business, anything that comes up in your life. It is a great tool to help manage all of that. Mine came out of really looking at that F line of the model, the feelings, that emotional connection. To me, that's the catalyst. I think all lines of the model are valuable, but to me, it was really working with that F line. And after client after client, seeing them bump up against not really being able to explain the emotion they were feeling. They'd be like, “I feel good. I feel happy.” There are hundreds of emotions, why do I get, “I'm scared,” or, “I'm pissed.” It was four or five out of the hundreds of emotions that are available.
Stacy: And the more I dug into even my own emotional wellness around some of this, and the way that I would tie my emotions to maybe the circumstances or the thoughts, it was within my own evolution of the work and work through my clients, it was like, “Oh, that's the magic,” at least for me. That F line was the magic. And it's really digging into how we can create how we want to feel. That's actually a thing because our thoughts are creating our feelings, then we just go back to our thoughts, and that's going back to you and I's work together becoming the observer or the watcher of our thoughts and thinking, “Do I even want to think that?”
So if you're thinking a thought that was causing you something painful, we would go back to that thought and dig into and be like,
“Is this a thought that you want to choose to continue to think?”
And if not, what thought can we work on together to get you to create a better emotion that will then drive the action that you want to get the result you want.
Michelle: Yeah. And I think that's the powerful part of the work because if you are feeling, let's say, anxious, you feel anxious, and then you can actually go back and ask yourself, “Okay. So I feel anxious. I feel it in my body. I feel my heart racing. I feel my palms are sweating. What am I thinking that is causing that anxiety to crop up, that anxiousness?” And I think that's really powerful because then you realize it's like, “Oh, well, I'm nonstop worrying right now.” It's like, “Okay. What's a better thought that I can have that can actually help me ease how I'm currently feeling if it's negative.”
Stacy: Yeah. And anxiety is one of those ones that also people have usually felt a long time. So your anxiety can be even more than a thought. That can be such a deep neuro pathway in your brain that sometimes we even just put that as, “Okay. You are anxious.” Let's just assume that anxiety is always going to be there, but not let it stop you.
Stacy: I didn't want it to seem as easy as, “Oh, you're anxious. You just change your thoughts,” because that's not always the truth either. I wish that I could just snap my fingers sometimes and take people's anxiety, my own included, away. But that's not always the case, and I know anxiety is a very real thing for a lot of people, so, yes.
Michelle: The difference between generalized just kind of anxiety or unrest versus having a clinical condition.
Stacy: Correct. But still, you're right, it is the thoughts that you're having. Sometimes those are such old thoughts or deep beliefs that you've been … and a belief is just a thought that you've been thinking a very, very long time, that you have that anxiety. So it is starting to kind of unravel or unweave that subconscious thought of what's causing the anxiety, or also giving you that thought that you could go to kind of ease that so you can still take action.
Where I think the other part of this creating how you feel is having that emotion that then stops you from taking the next best step. That's the other part of the work that's so powerful is, “Okay. I am feeling a little anxious around this.” If anxiety or the anxiousness coming up around whatever you've put in your R line that you want to achieve is stopping you.
What other feelings would at least get you to the next best step?
Stacy: So we're not stopping because that's the thing, too, you get these ideas, and then it doesn't feel good. It feels shitty, or it feels really uncomfortable, so then often times, we just stop. And that's going back to what I'm rebelling against.
I don't want those brilliant ideas to just stop because it feels uncomfortable.
Michelle: Yeah. And I think it's so easy to go into action when we feel overwhelmed or a little worried or anxious or, “Oh my gosh, this idea is too big for me,” that kind of thing. I think it's so easy to just be like, “Oh, well, I'm just not going to do anything. I'm just going to stand still right now and not do it.” And then that becomes the new status quo, and then we never act on our big ideas.
Stacy: Yeah. So stand still and never act, or we go into numbing it out, right? This doesn't feel good, so what can I do to make it feel better. Let me tell you about one of my numbing agents. It is peanut butter cups, or a midday bath, or any number of things. For some people, that's social media or a bottle of wine or a glass of wine or whatever that looks like at the end of the day because it didn't feel good, so what can I do to make it feel better.
We can choose to numb out, or you can do some harder work and look at your brain a little closer and your thoughts, and then create how you want to feel out of that.
Michelle: Yeah because the numbing out is the easy choice, right? It's just like, “I'm going to scroll through Instagram for the next hour. I'm going to play a game on my phone or watch Netflix all night long,” versus … so you're distracted from that uncomfortable feeling versus being like, “All right. I feel this. I'm feeling it. It's okay. And I can choose a different thought and that will help me feel a little bit different, which will help me then get back into action.”
Michelle: Which helps you achieve the result that you want to achieve.
Stacy: Yes, and then once you start to do this … and it is a practice. This is a daily practice. Doing the thought download, cleaning out your brain each morning, deciding which thoughts you want to keep, which ones are going to help you create your results, and then doing that. It becomes a practice. It's a re-training of the brain.
Michelle: So that's what I wanted to ask you.
What is a thought download?
I keep hearing the term. I see you post about it on Instagram. And I've heard Brooke talk about it, and I'm like, “What is that exactly?”
Stacy: Okay. In the morning, when you get up … so we were talking about when you lay down at night, and I can do them at night sometimes, too. If my brain is in that spin … you know how you and I were talking about sometimes when you decide to go lay down, it's like you said, “Do the cats have food? Did I do this? Did I that?” So I keep a notebook by my bed, and you just dump it all out, all of it. Don't edit it. Don't judge it, just start writing.
So stream of consciousness writing or a thought download, I just think of it as all those thoughts are going from my brain through my arm through the pen into the paper, and then I'm done with them.
Michelle: Okay. That's a great visualization.
Stacy: Yeah. So you can also do it in the morning. Same thing in the morning. I also get up … I do mine a little differently, so I started doing transcendental meditation a couple of years ago. One of the best gifts I've ever given my crazy brain. I think it's the combination of the TM and the thought models that keep me sane at this point, but I do my morning meditation, and then when I come out of meditation, I do my thought download, and from that, I'll model a couple of those thoughts, which one is going to get me the result that I need.
Stacy: Sometimes, you'll notice two or three days, the same thought keeps coming up, right? And it's just as simple as writing and writing and writing 10 minutes, 15. However long it takes … and I think as you practice it … some days, mine are pretty short, and some days it's pages and pages and pages. It just depends on the chaos of your brain for that day, what's coming up, especially if there are outside stressors that are coming on, or if you have … you have a book coming out, right?
Michelle: Yes, I do.
Stacy: Okay. Great. So as you start to do your book thing, I'm guessing your brain would be giving you all these extra thoughts about the book coming out and how it's going to be received and how am I going to do this, right?
Stacy: So I just want you to write all that out, and you may notice the same thought keeps coming up over and over, so that's one … or same feeling. In your thought download, if it's, “I'm feeling panicked,” or, “I'm feeling happy,” or, “I'm feeling overjoyed,” you can also put … it doesn't have to be … this is one mistake that I made when I first started doing this work, I thought that it always had to be something that didn't feel good. You can also take a really good thought or a really good feeling and put that in the model because that's going to drive your actions to get your results even more. Most people are driven by that positive.
Stacy: In the beginning, around my own confusion on that, I thought that it had to be something bad that I was trying to make better. That's not true. Pick any one of them. I mean yours literally could be the thought, “Does that cat have enough food? Do we have enough cat food?” And if you wanted to model that out, it might just be like, “Yes. There it is in the model. Of course, we have enough cat food. I do not need you to keep bringing this up. This is wasted mental energy.”
Stacy: It can be as simple as that, or it could be as panicky as the book drop or my next launch or I forgot … whatever. I mean anything that comes out of the human brain, which is a lot. You just write it all out. Don't edit it, and then pick a thought or a feeling or whatever and plug that into the model, and then go from there.
I call it cleaning up your brain. So for me, it's between the transcendental meditation and the thought models, I just feel like I have a fairly clean brain, but the way that I keep it continually tidy is doing that work pretty much every day.
Michelle: Yeah. So start your day with meditation, go to the thought download, and then put things into the model. And I think that's a really important step is what I love about the work that you're doing is that it makes it so logical because our thoughts are just all over the place, and they just are like wild monkeys, right?
But with the model, you can actually just take one thought, plug it in, or one feeling or action and just plug it in anywhere on the model and work from there. And it's weird to say, but it feels like it's giving you more control because it is, right? It's giving you more control over what your mind is doing and what actions you're taking.
Stacy: Yeah. And I think it helps to separate out the facts from the drama because our brains are drama queens, let's be honest. They like to spin it up and spin it up pretty quick. So if it's something that you can feel like, “I'm going to catastrophize this,” then you put it in the model, and you're like, “That's not even a big deal.” Once you look at it, it's really not, but if you're not looking and cleaning it out of what's in there, there's so many of those smaller thoughts or those sticky old thoughts that are just kind of gunked up in our brain that we want to believe because we've been believing them a long time. It's really starting that clean out.
Stacy: And if you don't meditate, you don't have to meditate. I was just kind of giving my morning. I know that some people are like, “Oh, I can't meditate.” Then just write it out. Just do your thought download and dump it out and plug it into the model. And as you practice this a couple of times and you start to see the results, you're like, “Oh, that feels better.” A cleaner brain feels better than a junked up brain.
Michelle: Oh my gosh. Yes. Yes. Yes. And if you're listening to this and you're like, “I want more on this model,” I'll hook you up with some resources for finding out more about the model because it is a very powerful tool. So I have one last question for you.
If every entrepreneur acted on your 3 Word Rebellion create how you feel, what would the world be like?
Stacy: I love that question.
Michelle: Me too.
Stacy: Emotional wellness is what I think it would be like.
We're never really taught about our emotions. I was guilty of this with my kids. I'd be like, “Don't do this, you'll hurt your sister's feelings.” Now, they hate it because my oldest will be like, “She's so annoying,” and I tell her, “Your thoughts about her are annoying.” She doesn't always like having me throw that back at her that it's not her sister, it's her thoughts about her sister that are annoying her. I think overall if every entrepreneur acted on it, it would be that emotional wellness, and it would be in business, and it would be in life, and it would be with your loved ones and your relationships and just the whole human experience.
Stacy: You would just emotionally know how to respond instead of react and start to look at a little bit more of like, “Is this even how I want to be feeling? Is this feeling an option?” And lean in a little bit to the discomfort ones.
I think so many people want to numb out things that don't feel good. If we would just allow them and sit with them and realize that this is part of this adventure, and you're going to be okay on the outside of it.
We don't need to numb them out where we are always only feeling good. We can experience, and you have to, right? That's the ebb and the flow. That's the dark and the light. You have to feel the bad to know what the good feels like, and you have to experience the good to know what the bad is. They exist together.
Michelle: Yeah. If you can't experience the bad, then you can't fully feel the good either.
Stacy: Yeah. It's that yin, yang. You have to have the two sides of that together. And it's within us to be able to create that. Managing our mind, looking at our thoughts, knowing that our thoughts create our feelings, and then taking those feelings and doing the action and the result.
Michelle: Yes. Yes. And knowing that the bad feelings pass. They do. And you'll be feeling something else different soon.
Stacy: And the good feelings pass.
Michelle: Yes. Those pass, too. Well, thank you, Stacy, so much for coming on the podcast. Tell us where people can find you online.
Michelle: Yes. And I highly encourage you to follow Stacy. She's so open in her Instagram stories about this process that we were talking about, the thought downloads, and the self-coaching model that you can learn so much from her by just watching how she shows up every day.
Stacy: Thanks, Michelle.
Michelle: You're welcome. And thank you being on the show.
Stacy: Yeah. It was fun.
Michelle: All right.