We all have one. We don’t want one. And it’s not all bad ……….
In our effort to avoid shame, embarrassment and failure, we suffocate ourselves with ‘have tos’, ‘musts’, ‘shoulds’, and the omnipresent …… ‘I’m not good enough’.
Even knowing others have their own Imposter, brings us little solace, because, ‘my Imposter is bigger than yours, and anyway ….. mine is real’. And when we acknowledge our Imposter to others, it’s generally received with ‘You’re kidding! How on earth can you think, say and feel that about yourself?’ And you know what, it doesn’t make me feel better.
The truth is, I am the only problem I’ll ever have. Henry Ford noted, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right”. So, how can I partner with my Imposter? How can I embrace anxiety as my friend and teacher? And, how do I know when to tell my Imposter “Thank you, not today”?
Noticing is key. If I notice my behaviour in real-time, I have the opportunity to assess and course-correct it as appropriate – as opposed to relying on the wisdom of hindsight through ‘I should have’; ‘why didn’t I?’; ‘I’m so stupid’; etc. Equally, through noticing I can identify patterns in my behaviour. As an example: I write a daily journal. Each day I start with “I am feeling ……” When I first started this practice, I quickly learnt that almost every day I felt anxious. This was revealing, and helpful. As I don’t want to live my life in a perpetual state of anxiety, what is required of me to shift this state sustainably?
When I notice my anxiety in real-time, it is easier for me to identify what is triggering the anxiety, and how to respond to my Imposter (who is very fast, very smart and very convincing). This helps me to notice my ‘mind talk’ (the voice of my Imposter) and deal with it to verify what is true, false, or what I simply do not know. A ‘don’t know’ is generally influenced by anything in the future.
Put simply, my Imposter thrives on “What will others think?”. The practice of noticing is not to believe that I will eradicate my Imposter. Noticing helps me partner with my Imposter, to continuously learn and remain humble, and not to ‘unravel’ with destructive mind talk that undermines my joy, enthusiasm and wellbeing.
Self-doubt is human. Allowing it to prevent me from living my ‘best life’ is a choice.