Author: Esther Sarlo, BA, CEO | Founder | Myndful Spark of Mynd Myself
I don’t know about you, but over the course of my life I have had bouts of ‘Imposter Syndrome.’
Can you relate to those moments where thoughts flood in like, “Who do you think you are to be doing that…?” or “You’re not good/smart/thin/pretty/sophisticated/etc. enough to be attempting…” or “They’ll discover that you have no idea what you’re talking about if you open your mouth to speak,” or “You don’t deserve to put yourself first…that’s being selfish,” or…?
If you’ve ever had an experience of thinking like that, you’re in good company. Countless people—particularly women—have admitted to dealing with self-doubt at one time or another (or frequently) in their lives. In fact, my belief is that every person has had some self-doubt in their life at some point or another.
A few amazing people who’ve shared their own “imposter syndrome” thoughts…
In an interview, Arianna Huffington—syndicated columnist, co-founder of The Huffington Post, the founder and CEO of Thrive Global, and the author of fifteen books—shared:
“The greatest obstacle for me has been the voice in my head that I call my obnoxious roommate. I wish someone would invent a tape recorder that we could attach to our brains to record everything we tell ourselves. We would realize how important it is to stop this negative self-talk. It means pushing back against our obnoxious roommate with a dose of wisdom.”
First Hispanic Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayer, said she felt like a fraud and that she didn’t fit in throughout her life. She grew up in the Bronx in a simple home with her single mother and brother, and never thought of herself as a likely candidate for Princeton University. She once said in a speech:
“I have spent my years since Princeton, while at law school and in my various professional jobs, not feeling completely a part of the worlds I inhabit. I am always looking over my shoulder wondering if I measure up.”
Meryl Streep, renowned actor, once said in an interview for USA Weekend:
“You think, ‘Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?’”
Okay…so how about you?!
If these talented, powerful, and successful women have acknowledged wrestling with ‘imposter syndrome,’ I’d like to suggest that it’s an inspiration for you and me to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and keep taking the next steps in our own journeys. I also believe you can choose to quiet the voice that might be whispering (or shouting) inside you right now that’s saying, “Well, if they feel like imposters, then what hope do I have?”
Let’s consider for a moment that there IS hope for you! Hearing what these amazing women have had to deal with can be used as a powerful opportunity to embrace your own amazingness, no matter what self-doubts you need to shift. You have your own unique resources, talents, creativity, and gifts to bring to the world. You don’t have to be a publisher, a judge, an actor, a fortune 500 CEO, etc. to be the most magnificent you possible! You might be one of those…but you don’t have to be.
Whether your goal is to balance your dreams and your family life in a meaningful and intentional way, to pursue your chosen career with single-minded purpose, to create a life of ease and joy for yourself, or something completely different, it all starts with BELIEVING that you’re worthy and that you CAN achieve what you want.
Here’s a provocative statement for you:
It’s possible to believe in yourself…even when you don’t believe in yourself. It does take practice, though.
Does this mean that everything will be magically easy and that you won’t have to deal with doubts? Nope. Does it mean that you can continue prioritizing everyone else’ needs before your own and keep your fingers crossed that somehow, someday, it will all work out? Nope.
Does it mean that you have to decide to and take action to be what you’re meant to be? Yes!
If you haven’t taken action yet, I have an encouraging story for you. Did you know that it took Florence Nightingale, daughter of a wealthy British family who utterly disapproved of her desire to become a nurse and forbade her from pursuing this calling, about seventeen years to get up the courage to finally do what she loved? I just learned that recently…and I think that is an awesome reminder that it is never too late!
Are you ready?
I want to invite you, right now, to stop and take a moment to consider your personal priorities.
- How do you feel?
- Who do you want to be?
- What are your current priorities?
- What are your dreams (either long-forgotten or current)?
- What would you like to change about your priorities?
- What are you doing to take care of your health…body, mind, spirit?
Now, please close your eyes…
Settle your body…
Take a few deep breaths…
Imagine yourself in one of your favourite places…
Take a few more breaths…And think about the above questions as you continue to breathe…
As you return to this space with me, I encourage you to shed any guilt that may have arisen. Any sense of failure, lack, disappointment, or other negative feelings. The purpose of these few moments is to bring you back to a state of awareness of where you are…right now. When you become aware of and present to what’s actually going on…that’s when you can begin to do something about it.
Wherever you are…YOU get to decide your next steps.
However, before you go all out and, as Stephen Leacock wrote, get on your “horse and [ride] madly off in all directions,” it’s important to pick one starting point. When we try and do everything all at once…then we wonder why we can’t sustain it!
What is one thing you can do to shift yourself from being stuck to put yourself into even the tiniest bit of forward momentum? Just one thing!
To get you going, it might be as simple as finding a beautiful image that represents the life you want to create and put this image up on your bathroom mirror or by your desk where you look at it repeatedly throughout your day. Maybe you make a phone call to that person in your life who has offered to coach you. Possibly it’s taking stock of your finances and creating your current financial snapshot so you know exactly where you are and what you can do next. Perhaps it’s making an appointment with a Healthcare Practitioner who can help you navigate your current health journey.
It might seem too simple…but it’s not. Pick one thing and go and do that for a while. See how it goes. Ask for help. Find others in your life who inspire you who can help keep you accountable on your journey.
I’ll end with one more example of a woman who continued to make choices throughout her life to live her calling. Civil rights activist, author, poet and Nobel Laureate, Maya Angelou admitted that at times, she often felt like a fraud, once saying:
“I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”
Invitation to you… No matter what your goals are, I invite you to remember that your health is one of the bedrock foundational pieces to living a good life. Whatever else you do, please include prioritizing your health as a priority.
At Mynd Myself, our tagline is: Because YOU Matter! We believe (and continue to believe) you do.