the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.
Do you ever feel like you don’t belong, like someone is going to pull you up and say “we see straight through you”. Well, that little voice may seem very real at the time, it is all in your head and that little voice is more common than you may even realise – even the most seasoned professional, the very people you admire can suffer from what we call imposter syndrome.
The other day a Pilates teacher friend of mine shared her new business venture. I already knew the project she was working on and I was so excited for her to be putting her amazing skills out to the World. And, although I was nothing but happy for her, when she showed me what she had produced I had this sinking feeling in my heart that told me that I was no longer needed, that maybe my work was devoid and I actually doubted myself more than I like to admit.
So how does that even happen? How can someone elses work that I value so much from a person I love make me feel less than worthy? How can somebody else’s success have a negative effect on us personally even though our logical mind knows better?
Well, it happens and I am here to admit that I feel it too. No matter how far you are along in your career, that little voice can pop up out of nowhere are whisper in your ear, calling you out as a hoax or stopping you in your tracks. Even with over a decade of experience and tens of thousands of hours helping students succeed, a wildly profitable business, a waitlist of customers on my doorstep, there I was questioning who I was, doubting the legitimacy of my own success.
So what is imposter syndrome, how do we combat this very real feeling of lacking and how do we move forwards with confidence?
Imposter syndrome is our own insecurity and plays out as anxiety. It feeds on our fears and uncertainty and is probably born from our primal being. Fear is a response to our environment that is meant to help us survive and if we understand the science behind fear we can start to move in the right direction.
If we think back to our primal ways, before the industrial revolution, before governments directed us how to think, before we handed over our self to current cultures and modern life, when we lived in community and involved ourselves in the day to day operation of the tribe, our emotions were a very intuitive means that would have told us when we were safe and when to be scared, when to face a situation and when to run.
Fast forward today where we are ruled by corporation, our thoughts and actions are actually pre determined by the junk that feeds our mind and we are fooled into believing that the hamster wheel is a race, each for their own, with our need to get ahead spurred by the fear of being left behind. Since childhood we were praised for success, given medals for beating others and told that hard work would accomplish greatness. Couple that with this moment in time where many of us have had to diversify and pivot, relearning out of our comfort zone, with new challenges and an unknown future, an experience that has plonked us in a game unfamiliar as we move our businesses to compete with the new World we are living in.
So when we see that someone may be getting ahead, even though they are no less on the hamster wheel, exhausted by life and indoctrinated into this modern idea of success, we feel threatened by our own perception of their story, it’s like looking at the perfect life of the instagrammer even though logic tells us that the filter is false and often hides the truth.
Why have we been fooled into believing that if someone else does well at something it must make us less worthy and when did we relinquish our true tribal needs in exchange for a lonely road to the top?
If we look imposter syndrome in the face and see it for what it really is it’s much easier to brush it off as a momentary lapse of unreasonable doubt and move forwards with our true intention.
In the end we all want the same. A safe, peaceful World where we can share our skills for the greater good of humanity. If we work with integrity and speak our purpose, we can lift each other up and realise that if you succeed then I succeed, and if we stand on each others shoulders the possibilities are limitless. If we all shed the anxiety and insecurities, get rid of the false perfection that the current model of socialising has driven us towards; come back to community, return to our truth; we can truly celebrate each other for our unique potential whilst reaching our individual milestones of success.
So next time you feel that small troll voice telling you that you don’t belong, brush that shit off and move on. Pivot from what you are doing, redirect your energy without sidestepping your purpose and do something that reminds you why you’re here.
We all have those moments of self doubt. Sometimes those moments give us time to pause, reflect, reassess and make sure that we are in fact moving in the direction of our intention. Sometimes that imposter syndrome sneaks in to remind us to come back to plan, to take a breath and then step forwards with strength and poise.
Imposter syndrome can be our friend or our foe, just like fear can save us or annihilate us. The secret is in harnessing, in stepping away and looking from a wider perspective, in knowing that there is room for all of us and that we each have our own set of skills, an identity that is so unique and so precious whilst being a part of an ever important community, our very own tribe.
Want to explore your own capabilities further? Join me on this 4 week workshop of self awareness and awaken the Pilates professional in you.
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