Ep #262: The Desire for No Problems and No Negative Emotions

The Design You Podcast Tobi Fairley | The Desire for No Problems and No Negative Emotions

Have you noticed that we go through life and business believing that the goal is to have zero problems and feel zero negative emotions? I suspect you may not have realized, but if you stop and think about it, you’ll probably see, at some level, you’re believing that it’s possible to arrive at a place of zero problems, or at least very few problems.

Well, I’m here to burst your bubble. It isn’t possible. There will always be problems and negative emotions. We can’t escape them, or get “good enough” to outrun them, and we can’t anticipate or solve every problem ahead of time. Problems are part of life, so instead of being frustrated when they arrive or believing they shouldn’t be happening, I’m giving you something new to try instead.

Tune in this week to discover a better goal to have than zero problems and no negative emotions. I’m discussing why it’s more helpful to believe that every problem has something you can work with, and how to see the steps you can take when a problem does arise instead of wishing you didn’t have it.

If you want to become great at managing your mindset and processing your emotions so you can create more success in your life and business, check out my free five-part mini-course: Success Week.

What You'll Learn From This Episode

  • Why problems are inevitable and they will always come at the worst moments.
  • How we use negative emotion as an excuse to procrastinate, hide, or quit.
  • The value of believing that you can solve any problem that comes your way.
  • Why everything you’ve achieved is the result of overcoming a problem.
  • What you can do to have your own back when problems come up for you.
  • How to see that everything you want to achieve is on the other side of feeling your negative emotions and taking action anyway.

Featured On The Show

Full Episode Transcript

You are listening to The Design You Podcast with Tobi Fairley, episode number 262.

Welcome to The Design You Podcast. A show where interior designers and creatives learn to say no to busy and say yes to more health, wealth and joy, here’s your host, Tobi Fairley.

Hey, hey friends, happy April, woot, woot. I love to say woot, woot as in woo whoo, hallelujah. How is it April already? So we’re in quarter two of 2023, what in the world, how did that happen already? But I personally have a ton of exciting things to show for it, including a new ecommerce site that’s coming very soon. And I’m going to be telling you about pretty soon on an episode so stay tuned for that. But the goal is to get it live at the beginning of May. So we’ll have all kinds of announcements and openings and fun stuff coming your way.

Now, as you may have heard me say, I’m opening this kind of part of my business or side business with my daughter. And per usual with every other thing that I’ve ever created, my mom is definitely there smack in the middle of all of it. She is my bestie, my rock, my right arm, my very favorite creative partner and sounding board. And my daughter’s moving into that position with her as well, but she has been there for me this whole time that I’ve been running my business for almost 25 years helping me make selections and being my sounding board and doing design work.

And she has been instrumental in helping Ellison and me curate our products and design custom products for the store and set up our physical space because we have a tiny, little physical space for our store. Most of it’s going to be online, but all that’s to come, so stay tuned. But anyway we have a little brick and mortar that’s going to be in the town my mom lives in. And one of the reasons we have that is because we’re going to have several lines that require a little brick and mortar presence, which I love.

And it’s also great for putting products, if they’re returned to us and we’re also going to be selling apparel in our shop starting in a few months. And it’s really a great space for trying on clothes and displaying clothes. And I love having the physical space to do all of our reels and promotions and all the things for the stuff we’re selling, so fun. So mom has been instrumental in all of this, all the decisions for the shop online and in person and it’s been so good.

So to say I’m in heaven doing all this fun work with my two favorite people on the entire planet is an understatement. I am a lucky, happy mama, lucky, happy daughter. Life is good, you all.
So let’s get into what I want to talk about today that is actually totally related to the joy I’m feeling, working with my favorite girls. So here it is. Have you noticed that we go through life and we go through business believing that the goal is to have zero problems and feel zero negative emotions? Yeah, that’s exactly what we wish for.

I suspect you haven’t exactly noticed that, but if you stop and think about it you will probably realize that you’re believing at some level that it’s possible to arrive at zero problems or even at least very few problems, 10% problems 90% wonderful. And I’m here to tell you, here to burst your bubble, I’m sorry to say that that is not possible. There will always be problems. We cannot escape them. We can’t get good enough so that they go away or we outrun them. We cannot anticipate all of them. We can’t solve all of them ahead of time so that they don’t come to pass.

Problems are part of life and they will always come at the most inconvenient time when you are super busy or super overwhelmed or super tired, I promise you. They will also happen when everything’s going great, in fact, they will happen no matter what. Sometimes they’ll happen on top of other problems and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, can any more stuff happen right now all at once?” So instead of being frustrated when they arrive or believing they shouldn’t be happening here’s what I want you to start to think about.

The actual goal would be better to be this, instead of hoping that no problems happen, what if we hoped that whatever problems do come up, because they’re going to, that there’s something that we can work with? Meaning there’s steps that we can take to find a solution for them. Now, sometimes in life there’s problems that have no solution and those are the really, really hard things. But most of the things that come up there are steps we can take.

So instead of constantly thinking I wish there were no problems, I wish there were no problems, I wish there were no problems, what’s really been helpful for me is to shift into thinking I want problems that I can do something about. So wanting to avoid all problems is really wanting to avoid growth and here’s why. Because growth rarely happens when things are going well.

Growth happens when things are really hard. We become our most confident, our most skilled, the strongest versions of ourselves by being willing to face problems and learn from them and work to overcome them. That’s the workable piece. So when we look back and we’re proud of ourselves and we’re proud of our success and we look at what we’ve built or created it’s because we overcame problems. We’re never going to arrive at a place or a point in time with no problems, it does not exist.

Similarly we also may not realize that we don’t just long for no problems, but we also long for zero negative emotions. And when we have them we use them, those negative emotions as an excuse to stop or to procrastinate or to shrink or to hide or to quit. Let’s say that again. Let’s think about this. When we have negative emotions we use them as an excuse to stop, to procrastinate, to shrink, to hide and to quit. We use them as a sign that we are doing something wrong or that we’re failing.

We think negative emotions shouldn’t be there and that we shouldn’t feel them, just like we think that problems shouldn’t be there. So whether we’re conscious of it or not, we have a goal to arrive at a place in our lives in the future sometime where we have no negative emotions and no problems, or at least very few negative emotions and very few problems and it makes sense.

We live in a world that tells us that we’re supposed to be happy all the time. And that if we aren’t happy there’s definitely something to fix that, a vacation or some Botox or a fancy purse or a coach or a therapist or a fancy car or a diet. Or something else that we should invest in at this moment that will for sure make us happy again. But the problem is not that we need another way to solve feeling bad.

We have a million ‘solutions’ that aren’t really solutions long term. They’re just sort of a cover, a dopamine hit that gives us a temporary feel good feeling to mask the negative feeling that we don’t like. But we don’t need any more of those, we’ve got a million things to get that dopamine hit with. The bigger issue is that we want to solve every negative emotion every single time it comes up and get rid of it instead of being willing to actually feel the negative emotion and let it be there until we’ve worked through it or until it’s passed.

So again, growth comes in the hard and that means growth comes in problems and it also comes when we’re willing to feel and process negative emotions. I coach people in Design You all the time that want me to help them fix their feelings. And sometimes I get coached on this too. We all want that. We don’t like feeling bad. One example that comes up a lot in coaching goes something like this. “Tobi, I hate selling. I feel insecure and uncomfortable. Can you help me feel confident when selling?”

And I just did a whole podcast last week about selling. And over time you can build that skill set and you can become more confident in selling. But here’s what I help people understand when this comes up. More often than not the confidence that’s going to come from selling is going to happen because they were willing to go ahead and sell while they were feeling uncomfortable because that’s the growth. And showing yourself that you can take action even through negative emotion is the very moment that you build that confidence.

The confidence comes after you sell, sell, sell through all those feelings, through no’s, through rejections, not before. So we’re like, “I want to feel confident before and then I’ll breeze through the selling.” And it doesn’t work that way. It works the opposite of that. You have to be willing to feel the negative feelings, process them, show yourself that it’s not going to kill you, move through the process, survive it. And that’s when you build those more resilient feelings like confidence.

So, many of you have this whole thing backwards and you’re thinking, I’ll start selling when I feel good about it, not, I will start feeling good after I keep selling and show myself that it won’t kill me to get a bunch of no’s. And that if I keep selling through the icky feeling, I’ll probably get a lot of yeses too which will feel way better. So I want to ask you this in this episode today.

What if every single thing you want for your business, including more money and more time and better clients and all those things we want is on the other side of you being willing to feel negative emotions and take action anyway? What if on the other side of you knowing that those problems are going to come no matter what but that you are willing to stay in there and figure out the problems and feel the negative emotions that come with them and grow and learn from them. What if that is the path, which it is, I know from experience, and it comes up again and again.

It didn’t just happen once, it keeps happening, back to all the problems and issues and feels that come with me building this ecommerce site, they’re always going to be there. But what if what you want is on the side of being willing to figure out the problems, not wishing them away and being able to feel the feelings, not wishing them away? How much time do you spend in resistance to or complaining about the fact that the negative emotions exist or that the problems exist in your business or in your life? I suspect a lot.

I hear myself complaining about it even as much as I work on this way more than I want to. I hear myself saying things like, “Why is everything so hard?” If I’ve said that once I’ve said it 50 times in the last month, maybe 500. As if life is supposed to be easy, as if building something in your business is supposed to be easy, as if being successful is supposed to be easy. I’m like, “Why is everything so hard?” I’m confused, yet I’m not really confused because I know life is about problems and life is about negative emotions just like it’s also about joy and positive emotions.

But I hear myself saying things like this a lot like, “Why is it every time something starts going well that something else falls apart? And if that other thing was just going great then I’d have all the space and time in the world to build this new thing.” As if I haven’t experienced this my whole life and my whole 25 years in business and also as if I feel entitled to a life or a business where this doesn’t happen. Why do I feel entitled to a life with no problems and why do I feel entitled to a life with no negative emotions? That’s the better question.

But every time I start one of those narratives about why me and why now and why is this so hard, I usually spend a little if not a whole lot of time in a negative spiral, really creating the feeling of anger that it’s even happening. So I have the negative emotion about the thing and then I make another negative emotion on top of that negative emotion questioning why the thing is happening.

And here’s what I forget in those moments. I could instead spend that time not in resistance to the problem, not in resistance to the negative feelings that come with the problem but actually processing the feelings and solving the problem. And it’s so much easier that way. The resistance on top of and the negative feelings on top of that we create because we’re mad that the problem is happening are really what creates even more suffering than the problem itself most of the time.

So instead of saying, “Why is there a problem now or poor me”, I could be saying instead, “That of course there’s a problem, there’s always going to be problems.” They’re a part of life. They’re part of business. They’re going to come up, what are we going to do about it? Or instead of moving to resistance and thinking why does this feel horrible and why is this happening? I couldn’t instead ask, what is this emotion that’s coming up right now trying to tell me? Or how can I process this emotion to help me move forward?

Or what will sitting with this emotion and feeling it and even journaling about it, teach me or what even will going through this problem and feeling this emotion make possible for me? That’s positive. But here’s what’s the most interesting to me. So we want to ignore or push through or cover up feelings with problems. We’re like, “I don’t want to feel this feeling. I wish this thing wasn’t happening.” So we try to cover them up.

And for me that’s like eating some food, eating some carbs, scrolling the internet, shop retail therapy, buying something, having a drink, that kind of stuff, covering them up, which by the way is not processing them. That’s covering them up or pushing them off. Processing them is actually moving through them and letting them be there. So we want to do that with these problems that come up in our business like I have to deal with an upset client or an upset employee or I have to get a no while selling.

And we don’t want to feel any of those feelings, but the interesting thing is we will stay with and ignore other messages from our body like I’m exhausted or I’m overworking. I’m wearing all the hats. I’m doing the work of three people. And believe we have to keep working to our own detriment. So we will let negative feelings about things like selling move us to procrastinate, but we won’t listen to our own body when it’s sending us other feelings like exhaustion or overwhelm that actually are telling us we need to rest which is fascinating.

Which just shows how illiterate we are when it comes to our emotions, how detached we are from our bodies and our emotions. It’s really fascinating. But wouldn’t it be amazing if our negative feelings about selling actually were the feelings that moved us to push through. Wouldn’t that be so cool? It’s not how it works naturally, but it would be so cool. What if we felt resistance to selling and we’re like, “This is a sign to keep going the way we do when we’re exhausted or when we’re overworked.” If that were the case it would be amazing.

And if every time we felt exhausted we rested, that would also be amazing, but they’re really kind of backwards. But what is the reason for this, why don’t we? Well, it’s because of the thoughts we’re thinking. So in those moments we push through exhaustion we’re thinking something like I have no choice but to work, my clients are waiting on me and I don’t want them to get mad at me. But on the one about selling we’re thinking, I hate selling and I’m not good at it and I hate asking people for money so I’m not going to.

Isn’t it clear at the first thought, I have no choice but to work so my client doesn’t get mad at me, keeps us pushing ourself past exhaustion and so we don’t disappoint people? And then the second one, I hate selling, it feels awkward and terrible and I’m not good at it and I hate asking people for money, makes us stop, also to not bother people. So what I want you to notice is most of the time it’s all about other people. Both of these situations are to our detriment. One makes us exhausted and the other one makes us broke.

What if we changed whose back we have? What if instead of trying to take responsibility for our clients’ emotions, what if we let them handle their own emotions and we started worrying about our own selves and our own health and our own money situation? What if we had our own back? Remember where we started in this conversation, the realization that we hope for zero problems and zero negative emotions, but the better goal would be workable problems and processing your emotions all on a path to growth. So what do you think it would do for your goals if you tried making these shifts and tried having your own back? If you’re like, “Problems are going to come up, it’s no problem, but if I have my own back I’m going to keep selling. And if I have my own back I’m going to rest when I’m exhausted even if the client’s upset in either of those situations.”

That would be a game changer. And be willing to feel the discomfort and be willing to feel like the client might be disappointed and still chose yourself first. What do you think it would do for your business if you made these shifts? Well, I’m here to tell you it’s been a game changer for me and even though I don’t get it right all the time and even though I sometimes get frustrated about problems or feelings and wish they weren’t here. And even though I do find myself saying, “Why is this happening right now or why is everything so hard?”

Because I practice being aware of this I’m usually able to move out of resistance a lot faster than I was before I was aware of these situations and these thoughts and my goal to be 90% happy all the time. When I realized you couldn’t be 90% happy all the time and life was pretty much 50/50 that changed everything. But it also changed my quality of life and my bank account because I started to reverse whose back I had and it really all goes together.

So we started this podcast with a story about my ecommerce. We moved into wanting no problems and no negative emotions which I can assure you I’m having a lot of both as I build the new thing. But I also am trying as hard as I can to stay aware of both of those things. I do that through journaling. I do that through slowing down and making some space, sitting outside sometimes when I feel really overwhelmed and just processing emotions sitting in the sun. Thankfully it’s spring right now so I can go outside.

But it is a game changer to be willing to let both problems and negative emotions be there and reminding myself that my main goal is to have my own back through the problems and through the negative emotions. Okay, so I hope this adds a lot of clarity for those of you who are having some ahas right now, that you’ve also been wishing for a 90/10 life, 90% feeling happy all the time, 90% no problems. And no wonder you’re so frustrated when reality doesn’t match that.

And I hope that we’ve given you some ways to start to think about this differently so that you can start to have your own back and have better results in both your health and your bank account.
Okay, friends, if you want to get really, really great at managing your mindset and processing your emotions to create more success in your life and business, I have something for you. I taught a free course, kind of a mini course not too long ago, it was leading up to one of our Design You launches and it was called Success Week.

And this little five part, because we went live for five days and worked with real people on real issues. This little five part mini course all about learning how to manage your mindset in business was so transformative for the designers that we helped during that week that we decided to make it available as a free resource to all of you. So even though it talks about Design You and you can’t buy Design You anymore right now because we’ve just closed it for the last time. Don’t worry, something else is coming soon.

I still want you to go check out Success Week, head to and go watch this free course because it’s going to blow your mind the way it teaches you to think differently. And there’s some very specific topics of the five parts. One’s about how to think about money. One’s about how to think about time. Those are usually two of the things that cause the most negative emotions. And I think you’re going to be really glad that you’ve gotten better at understanding your thoughts, the feelings they’re creating.

And this will move you closer to being able to process your emotions and to be able to deal with problems when they do arise. So go check it out, You’re going to love it. It’s absolutely free. And I’ll see you back here next week with another great episode of The Design You Podcast. Bye for now you all.

Thank you so much for listening to The Design You Podcast, and if you are ready to dig deep and do the important work we talk about here on the podcast of transforming your mindset and creating a scalable online business model, there has never been a more important time than right now. So, join me and the incredible creative entrepreneurs in my Design You coaching program today. You can get all the details at

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Hi! I'm Tobi

I help creative women (and a few really progressive dudes) design profit-generating, soul-fulfilling businesses that let them own their schedule, upgrade their life and feel more alive than ever!

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