Impostor Syndrome


Many of us deal with doubt as a daily affliction. Fear all dressed up and disguised as a humbling and self-deprecating inner critic - and not the funny kind. The inner impostor can flare up when you're scrolling through your instagram feed, or about to hold a big meeting, or even when floating around a dinner party.

This syndrome of lack and impostorship can take all shapes and forms as it's a sneaky and powerfully magnetic thought form of the subconscious mind.  Poking holes in our confidence and desire for more, questioning: do you really know what you're talking about when it comes to teaching? Are you truly worthy of being a leader? And even the, how dare you want that? Do you really think you of all people deserve it?

The interesting thing about this inner critic though, is we all have one. I'm recognizing that feeling sometimes like a professionally-costumed actor instead of a "qualified" teacher/entrepreneur/coach/etc. is part of this game of being human.  In calling out this impostor shadow and shining the light of awareness on any of these feelings, they be heard, healed, and released by the simple art of attention. 

Recently, I had a lovely coffee date recently with an impressively successful girlboss and local entrepreneur. Beyond the multiple locations, beyond the growth and incredible brand, beyond the expert managing of people and product, she shared with me that she sometimes feels like an impostor. Like who the hell is she to have all this, do all this, be all this. 

I couldn't believe it. She - a brick-and-mortar, successful businessperson with real investors and such - was still wrestling the syndrome. And then I had my first session with a new business coach I'm working with, and she too shared the same sentiments. We all feel this way to a degree, it's how we handle and manage those feelings that define us, and define our mark on this world. 

So, today I share with you four strategies to tame the beast of inadequacy, uncertainty, and impostorness. They are easy, dare i say enjoyable, and I can speak from experience when I say they are powerful. May you find them just the sous chef you need to transform any inner lemons into a lovely, sparkling, nettle-infused lemonade. 

GET INTO YOUR BODY | Though we hear it often, this magical being just recently reminded me of the importance of body awareness. Our mind is a wonderful resource, but it can quickly spin out of control and take the drivers seat, as opposed to being controlled by the much more experienced driver of the heart or soul. One quick way to get out of the head is to come back to your 5 senses. Wherever you are, take a few breaths. What do you feel beneath you? What do you see around you? What are the sounds? Smells? Tastes? You are alive in this moment, that gives you a RIGHT to enjoy the experience fully.  The birthright of a body can negate the germs of an impostor sickness any day. 

QUESTION THE CRITIC | When we can find some centeredness in the body, it's a wonderful experiment to consider where these thoughts are coming from. Who is that voice inside your head telling you you're not good enough? Chances are, it's not you but some parent/grandparent/other-adult-you-looked-up-to that's somehow locked-into your psyche that you'll never do enough/be enough/have enough/ be worthy enough of love/success/happiness. Though the blame game is a waste of time and energy, to crystallize and remind ourselves that any feelings of lack were initially externally driven is empowering. From there we can work on tending to and healing the inner child through meditations, authentic affirmation practice, and resources like this or this.

TEACH WHAT YOU KNOW | This message was relayed by a powerhouse kundalini teacher, Tej who personally studied with Yogi Bhajan for decades.  As a new teacher myself, you could imagine the impostor syndrome that could flare up out of comparison with such a living great. But Tej recently shared this practical and pointed advice: "teach what you know, and teach people to relax." I cannot tell you how these words have guided me every time I've questioned my right to be sharing the work. I realize immediately, it's not a right but a duty. People are starving for connection to self, to greater energy, breath, and real relaxation. And if I have any semblance of how to do that (and you better believe I do) I must share the wealth.

CREATE | There is no better antidote to any feeling of insecurity or lack then creation. All that comparison, all those haunting impostor-filled thoughts are often nothing more than inverted or clogged-up creativity in oneself.  That cynical voice will be forced to silence itself when you loose yourself in the creation of something beautiful. It could be a love note to someone, or a really incredible pot of soup, or by all means a blog, a workshop, or work of art. But create, create, create. It doesn't have to be good. It just has to be something you yourself have done. That process of shifting energy is true alchemy. And it will help you access that inherent greatness within.