Janelle Breese, Featured Collaborator
“You’re a fraud.”
Sound familiar? That insidious phrase had been my constant companion for most of my life.
During the most inopportune times, it interjected itself – piano recitals, job interviews, speaking engagements. Even during dates, it would always grab my attention.
This soft voice of doom blankets all your efforts towards forward momentum in all you try to do, like losing weight; starting a new habit; or, taking your business to a whole new level. The voice suddenly appears – seducing you with a better offer; or, only telling you you’re not good enough.
It shows up with the authority of an army captain. Drilling down into you that “you’re kidding if you think you have what it takes to be successful and no one will take you seriously.” Afterall, you don’t have the credentials to mentor or coach; or, build a business or write. “You’re simply not smart enough,” it will tell you.
It will throw its best well-meaning material at you to stop you from achievement, forcing you to give up your heart’s desire. The more you push forward, the louder it becomes.
However, it’s all good. The truth is you’re perfectly normal. This symphony goes on in most people, including those working towards lofty goals. Therefore, if your internal conductor is playing up a storm, it must mean you’re working on an awesome dream. These thoughts are all part of a funky phenomenon called “Imposter Syndrome.” In Dr. Valerie Young’s book by the same name, she states:
“Everyone loses when bright people play small through needless self-doubt.” ~Dr. Valerie Young, Imposter Syndrome
Self-doubt. It tricks you into playing life small. When this powerful emotion swarms over you, it feels like an elephant standing on your head as you face your audience naked. It is not pretty.
So what can you do to wrestle imposter syndrome and self-doubt to the ground so that you can get on with your life and spiral up to new heights? The following are a few effective steps you can take to get the ball rolling in your favor.
- Remember Your Wins
It’s safe to say you’ve had successes in your life. If all you’ve managed to do is age, you already beat the odds by living, so be happy. For everyone else, list your accomplishments no matter how small. You’ve had them; we’ve all had them.
Go back in your memory and experience how it felt to win – to hear your name announced as the recipient of a prize; or, to receive your diploma, after the months of study. Record them, read them, and smile. You’re brilliant; the evidence is right in front of you.
- Move Your Body
Whenever I feel the stranglehold of doubt about to encircle me, I immediately get up; shout ‘STOP’ out loud; and, do a little dance. That’s right; you have to work it out of your system. Feelings are visceral and need to move through your body. Most people hang on to memories. They replay them over and over, even adding a new perspective for dramatic effect. Don’t do that to yourself. Get up, shout, and work it out.
- Remember, People Care About Different Things
This one helped release the constant torture I placed on myself. Listen carefully. People don’t care that much about the same things as you. They are too busy wrapped up in their drama. Though you may capture their attention for a few seconds or moments, they eventually move on, as they attempt to choose what wine to have with dinner or who’s picking up the kids from soccer. So stop stressing, people often don’t care like you about the same things.
- Allow Another To Pour Into You
If you insist on scaring yourself with self-doubt, find someone you greatly admire or has accomplished what you’re trying to do. Listen to their teachings. We are awash with fantastic information coming through channels such as podcasts, videos, blogs, and books.
I love listening to Ralph Smart on YouTube. He fills me with optimism. I catch his contagious attitude and smile each time as he begins his talk with, “Peeeeeace, infinite waters diving deep once again” or “….breathing in that good ass prana, baby.”
Find someone powerful, fun and enthusiastic; and, let them fill you up with their beautiful energy! You’ll soon forget the burden of self-doubt in no time.
- Sharpen Your Saw
In his highly acclaimed book, 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey extols the virtue of “sharpening your saw.” This approach is a highly constructive way to handle doubt, including stopping the imposter syndrome cold. All you have to do is practice your craft.
Yup, consistent practice spirals up your knowledge base, enhances cellular memory, and boosts your confidence levels. Best of all, it’s all within your control. If you need to feel in control, complete it through practice. Consistent daily practice wins the day.
- Expect Setbacks And Failures
Yes, I know this one is like throwing cold water on you; but, it’s quite the opposite. Most people live their life as if it’s a constant set of surprises. When unexpected things happen, or failures occur, they are shocked to their knees such things dare happen to them. They immediately spiral down to confusion and dread. News flash: failures, setbacks, and surprises happen to all of us. Expect them.
Understand your reactive modes before they roll up to you. Who will you become and how will you handle yourself? What are the options available? And, do you have access to help and support? The more understanding you place on your power and choices available to you in the midst of adversity, the better you will move through it.
The best leaders in the world prepare for what might come. And “if” it comes, they don’t panic. They quickly shift into gear and handle what’s before them. Be prepared.
- Crush Comparison
You’re an intelligent person. Why are you still comparing yourself to other people? And, why do you care what other people think? The most effective leaders don’t have time for this energy draining endeavor. You shouldn’t either.
When you write down and read your goals daily, you don’t have time to compare and worry about “the good opinion of other people.” If you’re indulging in comparison, you have given away your power. You’re running on empty. You’ve left yourself no “gas” to fuel your forward momentum.
If you don’t want to sit out life on the sidelines, drop this comparison! I highly doubt you want to be like someone else. Someone once said to me, “if everyone had the opportunity to take their problems and skills, place them in a circle, and see the challenges of others, we would rush to grab our issues back again.” Once you see all that’s truly going on in the lives of others, you find huge appreciation for your life, skills, accomplishments, and dreams.
- Decide And Go
OMG, are you still waiting? Please, make a decision about something and begin! Time waits for no one. Tick tock honey. The choice doesn’t have to perfect at the moment you make it. Course correct as you go. Did you know, while in the air, planes fly off-course the majority of the time? Somehow, they still land at their appointed destination. Do the same. Take off! You can always correct along the way.
- Create Bold Statements
Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest sportsmen of all time. Though he was famous for his skill as a boxer, his bold and bodacious declarations were even memorable. Without fail, Ali told his fans and detractors alike that he was the “greatest”; and, no one can beat him. He joyfully proclaimed that he “floated like a butterfly, and stung like a bee.” These statements built up his fame and notoriety; but, best of all, he attracted and lived all that he stated. He made his dreams come true, and so can you! Your words have power, use it.
You’re more powerful and deserving than you know. A life lived full of confidence, boldness, bodacious-ness, with chutzpah, is a life well lived. People are waiting for and needing you to show up. They need the gift only you can give them. Help them become a better version of themselves. Move past your doubts and help spiral up lives. It’s one of the greatest callings you can answer.
Janelle Breese, RPC, is an author, speaker, and counselor with expertise in grief, loss, life transitions, and brain injury. She resides with her family in Victoria, BC. She is the author of Life Losses: Healing for a Broken Heart. Visit her website at www.janellebb.com and follow her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/HopeGenerator. Contact her at [email protected].