Do you remember that moment when you didn’t feel like you were good enough for the opportunity given to you even though you deserved every bit of it? The moment when you felt totally undeserving and figured it would be found out that you are a fraud and really don’t know what you are doing or saying? - A feeling better known as the imposter syndrome.
You might wonder why I said the imposter syndrome is actually good for you.
Did you notice I asked if you remember "that moment" as opposed to if you’ve "had a moment"? That’s because these feelings are common and you're not alone. Most people have experienced this even though there is no reason to the contrary.
In a few days we’ll be celebrating international women’s day. We’ve come so far from when the first IWD march was held well over a century ago and there’s still a lot more to be achieved.
As women push boundaries in different aspects of social economic, cultural and political life the imposter syndrome will threaten to keep us silent and limit our abilities.
When people talk about the imposter syndrome they talk about it from a point of feeling afraid and limited; what I propose that you do instead starting today is to see the imposter syndrome as your cue.
See it as your cue to take a leap and step out. Instead of seeing it as a limitation, see the imposter syndrome as a reminder that you’re doing something big and changing your world.
When you feel your stomach churning like you’re about to choke on your own vomit as a result of nervousness or when you feel light headed because your frenzied anxiety has got hold of your mind; wrap your hands around those feelings and welcome it.
Thank it for reminding you about how brave you are and how you’re choosing the harder and better option to step out.
I like how Tara Mohr explained fear in her book Playing Big. She explained that the fear we experience can be divided into two based on biblical Hebrew. We can experience fear based on pahad - “projected or imagined fear,” the “fear whose objects are imagined”. This fear can be categorised as over reactive, irrational, lizard brain fear or fear of rejection”.
Or yirah, which is “the fear that overcomes us when we suddenly find ourselves in possession of considerably more energy than we are used to, inhabiting a larger space than we are used to inhabiting. It is also the feeling we feel when we are in the presence of the divine”.
This is the kind of fear we experience when step up to accomplish something bigger than ourselves or pursue our truths or dare into new ways of being and doing.
Instead of experiencing those feelings as negative feelings, experience them as positive excitement. Chanel those feelings as your cue to step out and show the world what you’ve got and take the coveted spot you deserve, and enjoy the process.
Instead of viewing it as negative and a limitation, the imposter syndrome is really a sign that you are stepping outside your comfort zone instead of living in it - growth and success live outside your comfort zone. It’s an indication that you are brave and doing important work which matters to you and others.
Have you considered that you don’t get the imposter syndrome when you’re in “business as usual mode”. You don’t experience it when you are in your comfort zone. You only experience it when you step out, push boundaries or challenge the status quo for yourself and others.
As women, we have great work to do and not just have we NEED to cover more ground; as a result, the imposter syndrome phenomenon may very well be a constant companion.
Like the after taste that lingers way after you’ve had a sour drink; whenever we push boundaries, which we want to and we should, the imposter syndrome will seduce us like Amy Cuddy puts it with “hush money” to keep us quiet and stay low but don't accept it.
As you celebrate international women’s day and go beyond that to push for new territories, let feelings of the imposter syndrome be your call to live bigger, play bigger and bolder. Let those feelings be your cue; a reminder that you are doing something that is both meaningful to you and your world.
You may ask if that would take the fear away; unfortunately not, but instead of seeing it from a negative perspective as something that threatens to limit you and destroy you, see it instead as the positive trigger that it is.
I dare to argue that if you don’t experience those feelings of fear every now and again, you’re settling for safe and comfortable and there’s a place for that but not today.
In the months and years to come, as women, we will push boundaries, challenge the status quo and make advancement beyond what we know today, and in doing so, those feelings of imposterism may show up for the ride more often than not.
Instead of cowering in fear, thank them for the reminder that you are doing something which is life changing, something that will make a difference to your life and others. Instead of settling for the safe and quiet choose faith and brave.
Do you want to step up and live bolder, play bigger. Find out here
To women who are changing and will change their world!
I hope this article has helped you. Leave me a comment telling me about it or share your words of wisdom.
My aim is to shed light on the issues that affect women, equipping her to be confident, happy and successful.
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