Last weekend as I pawed my way through ‘The Voice of Knowledge‘, a cascade of thoughts started rotating through my head: what does my voice of knowledge lie to me about, how did I become my own biggest critic, what are inauthentic truths that I try and force on myself and how can I be kinder to my own mental space. As it turns out, what I was suffering from at that time is called imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome has kept me from raising my voice at important times, from trying my best at something I’m new at, and to be very honest – is what almost prevented me from writing this post to begin with; who did I think I was to try and explain imposter syndrome, why does it matter what my opinion is, and who the hell actually cares.
So, What Is Imposter Syndrome?
The psychological sibling of feelings like self-doubt, fears of failure and inadequacy, imposter syndrome is what prevents us from pursuing our dreams while instead reinforcing the idea that we are a living in a nightmare we have no control over. Though similar to feelings of low self worth and diminished self confidence, imposter syndrome is the continual feeling of rejection, or of being exposed as a fraud of sorts that doesn’t deserve their roses, no matter how well earned they truly are.
Imposter syndrome is the voice we have that refuses to acknowledge our wins – big or small, nagging us with ideas that we’re not good enough, that what we’ve gotten out of life has been by dumb luck and not our own doing, and that we are undeserving of any good that comes out of our life. Overwhelming and convincing, imposter syndrome pulls us away from our creativity and new ideas, while fortifying a negative feedback loop that screams we simply aren’t good enough and people will see through us to the hypothetical frauds we believe we have become.
Unfortunately, or fortunately – depending on how you choose to look at things – imposter syndrome is much more common than you think, and it’s synonymous with that pestilent ‘Voice of Knowledge’ that Ruiz refers to. Imposter syndrome seeps in when you move into new and novel realms of your life: from getting that new job, raise or promotion to releasing your creative genius into the world; I don’t know a single person who hasn’t been overcome by it at some point in their lives. The problem with imposter syndrome arrises when we use our psyche and ego as an excuse – we stop pursuing our growth and deny our human nature of evolution.
How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome
Remember those cartoons when we were kids, with the angel on one shoulder and devil on another? If you live by your imposter syndrome – you’ve shut the good news out, and have been focusing on the negative for far too long; often forgetting that there’s a large part of you that loves yourself, respects yourself and wants to be heard. If you can’t get back to negotiating between the duality of these feelings, the least you can do for yourself is to shut down the pessimism and marinate in the art of being still. By acknowledging imposter syndrome and calling it out for what it is – we prime ourselves to reframe our mental space in a healthier fashion. If we can learn to adopt a growth mindset – we realize that as we negotiate with and move past what we are not, we reinforce the unique beauty of living as our authentic self. That might sound easier said than done, but I promise – it’s truly just as easy as trapping yourself in your negative emotions.
At the end of the day, we are all the best at being ourselves; meaning that you are the one person in the world that is the best at being them. What we are not, however, is our emotions. We must learn to let them pass over us as clouds to our mental sky, they might cast a shadow – but we are not the shadow, we are the sky that wants to shine as bright as possible. When we listen to our imposter syndrome, we are choosing to not share the beauty of our true nature with the world. Instead of falling back into the feedback loop of imposter syndrome, try these mental tricks instead.
For starters – be kind to yourself and the way you talk to yourself. Would you let a stranger talk to you the way you talk to yourself? If we come at our relationships from a point of love and understanding, we allow ourselves to hold space for our emotions in a more positive light. Start by writing yourself love notes and leave them around your home and office; remind yourself how amazing you are! Be able to separate what is fact from what you’re feeling; they are not the same but our minds are so strong that the two can become intertwined. Understand that to make a mistake is human, and to grow outside of your mistakes is divine.To win the mental war you’ve been waging against yourself, it’s just as important to win the smaller battles. Limit your time on social media; if comparison is the thief of joy, then Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are emotional burglars. They reinforce the attention economy, while taking time and joy – replacing them with feelings of gross inadequacy and depression. Compile a list of your tiny, day to day wins – and know that they’re just as fantastic as larger ones. Start working with a gratitude journal – my personal recommendation is the Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal – or Spirit Animal Cards to establish more positive emotional pathways. It’s on us to ensure that our exterior world has our backs, and best intentions in mind – ensure your support system is full of positivity; we are the synthesis of the five closest relationships that we have – and chances our, they’ve felt a similar way – if we open the lines of communication, we can not only champion our own imposter syndrome but we can help others overcome theirs as well.
Do you recognize when imposter syndrome is setting in?
What tips and tricks have helped you bounce back to your authentic self?
Share some love in the comments below and let’s help each other be the best versions of ourselves that we can be.