“Why do others seem so self-assured whilst I struggle and battle constantly with feeling inadequate and not being good enough?”
In my roles as a life coach and emergency nurse, the most common confession clients and patients would share with me is that they thought they were failures and felt like a fraud in their own lives. My confession to you, is I know how they felt, I feel the same way. There are some days I have to draw on my faith, take courage and remain steadfast in Gods desires for me.
The reality is that those whose self-assurance we are questioning are asking the very same question. I know I have and just as I am encouraging you to do now, they too are drawing on their faith and using a few techniques that help to silence the self-doubt.
I truly know what you are going through, that feeling of inadequacy, the battle with that inner critic, that nagging voice in your head that often says you are not good enough, pretty enough, slim enough, organised enough, clever enough, talented enough, disciplined enough. That word ‘enough’ eludes us and we are set on trying to chase the ‘enough’ we think alludes us. That ‘enough’ monster that encourages you to compare yourself to everyone else, especially those you perceive to be better, prettier or more successful than you.
Not dealing with this allows worry to take over and eventually consume you, fear takes up residence in your soul, and you find yourself in a momentary panic often, that one day soon you will finally be exposed, and everyone will know you are not good enough, unable, unqualified and a failure, deep down you dread being found out and seen as an imposter. In your bid to control all this, you’ve become a control freak and perfection is your medicine to numb the ever increasing fear, everything has to be right. This cripples your ability to accept compliments and feedback, you often feel criticised, your heart has become critical towards others, and you are always coming from a place of defense and feeling constantly attacked by lifes challenges.
You are in a constant heightened state of readiness to protect your crushing secret that ‘you are a fake’. It renders you helpless, removes your ability to do anything without feeling stressed or anxious. This then affects how you do life, your health, your relationships, inside and outside of your home. You hate it, but feel unable to deal with it, as the fear seems so real and you ability to cope with feeling more of failure is too much. You are suffocating. You often feel like you can’t breathe. The anxiety is real.
Life is too short let’s deal with it now … ready?!
What is impostor syndrome
Studies show almost 70 percent of people experience impostor syndrome, or an inability to internalise achievements this is particularly common among people that like to do well and are deemed high-achievers.
At the very core of impostor syndrome is the persistent belief that you’re not good enough, aren’t equipped or are incapable of facing life’s challenges. Even though up to this point the evidence proves you can do it, you are good enough and you do have the skills, ability and are more than capable of living a successful life, having successful relationships inside and outside of your home.
You feel like a fake, a fraud, a failure, an impostor.
These setbacks can interfere with your happiness, health, and relationships. I encourage you to realise and accept that self-doubt is a normal and a very healthy emotion. We all feel it at times. Those you perceive to be super successful, presidents, prime ministers, church ministers, world leaders, church leaders, award winners and your own family and friends.
You see contrary to what you may have been led to believe to this point, I want to tell you is untrue, those very people you look at and see success, assuredness, and confidence, they were not born this way, these are not something we are born with. Thankfully, they are skills we can acquire through surrounding ourselves with confident caring people, the right circle of influence brings out the best in us. Taking control of your mind, body, and spirit with intentional, deliberate and purposeful practices is necessary. It all begins by allowing yourself to become more self-aware, and using this to help you manage your overwhelming feelings of insecurity.
It is time to shut that inner voice up.
Let’s silence that inner critic. Tell it to shut up. To help you get started, here are some tips to fight off those feelings associated with impostor syndrome so you can start feeling more assured, confident and in control today.
- Praise your creator — before you take any further action, give God the glory for your life, your design and His perfect plan for you. Philippians 4:6–7
- Pray for peace — protect your relationship with Jesus and ask God to show you His way and lead you to His will. Philippians 1:6
- Get to know your stress triggers — Impostor syndrome typically shows itself in one of two ways: the diligence camp and the avoidance camp.
Members of the diligence camp will respond to anxiety by trying to control the outcome through perfectionism and overworking.
Members of the avoiders camp, fear being exposed and do things to keep themselves safe, they procrastinate a lot, rarely speak up, or will stay in a job they loathe and hate even though it is stressing them out.
Identifying which stress camp you live in, will allow you to start dismantling defense mechanisms that have been put in place by impostor syndrome and liberate your mind to focus on new solutions.
For example, if you know you want to start voicing your opinion more freely and speak up, make a promise to speak out in the first 15 minutes of a conversation as this will short-circuit your natural tendency to hold back.
Turn the tables
5. Acknowledge your emotions — None of us likes feeling bad, so we try and avoid our negative emotions. It is time to turn the tables and do the opposite of what you have been doing, it is time to learn to cope with difficult emotions like self-doubt, this is exactly how you will increase your mental stamina. Studies show that people who continue to ignore negative emotions are likely to experience more distress and engage in behaviours like anger, aggression, drinking and over-eating significantly more than people who put their feelings into context with words.
When you are able to accurately identify and explain your feelings stress will be reduced and feelings that arise with impostor syndrome will minimise. As you expand your emotional vocabulary you will deal with anxiety and worry more easily when it arises. This skill, known as emotional literacy, is associated with increased resilience and greater self-esteem. You will feel victorious.
Here’s an example, when you feel overwhelmed by changing priorities in the workplace or home, explore it more. Do you feel disappointment as a result of your incorrect false self-perception of being ill-equipped to cope with the change or get the results you believe are required of you? Do you feel embarrassed because you may let others down? Simply identifying your inner experience is an extremely powerful way to keep insecurity from being your boss.
6. Tweak how you speak to yourself — Yep, that inner dialogue, we sometimes refer to as self-talk. When it comes to impostor syndrome, we are often our own worst critic, we become the enemy and do the enemies work for him. By dismissing your accomplishments or criticising your own capabilities, the victory is lost.
For this next week write down all of your thoughts. This is an eye-opener as you start to take note of the dialogue going on inside your mind. Note, what do you notice about how you judge yourself? If your inner conversations with yourself about yourself lacks compassion for you, use positive realistic phrases like, ‘I’m a work in progress and that’s okay. Jesus loves me’ or ‘I am loved by God and doing my best to become better’. This will stop the cycle of insecurity and self-sabotage you are trapping yourself in.
It takes courage to admit you feel insecure. But something I know for sure from my experience running my business and living life myself is that self-doubt is completely normal. If you are struggling and going through impostor syndrome, realise that it doesn’t mean you are broken.
It is a sign of growth.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.