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Shatter Imposter Syndrome – Day 3

Shatter Imposter Syndrome

Day 3

Welcome to Day 3! Over the last couple of days, we’ve been deepening our understanding of imposter syndrome, and its relationship to our feelings and our lives. Now its time to – get ready – break down the barriers that we’ve created because of imposter syndrome! This is it! We’re doing it!

Let’s Shatter Imposter Syndrome!


Lets recap on what we know so far. We know that imposter syndrome is feeling like a fraud, like a phony, like you’re unworthy of your successes; like your achievements are down to external circumstances rather than your skills, competence and ability. 

We know that we might look at someone else’s life, and consider them to be successful; whereas we might look at our own, similar life, and not consider ourselves to be successful. And we know that we might mis-read feelings of apprehension and nervousness as messages that we shouldn’t be doing what we’re doing, when that’s unlikely to be the case. 

So. What does this all mean? This means that we’re starting to understand imposter syndrome and how it makes us feel. This is mega; from here, we can break through the barriers that we’ve created for ourselves. One more time: we can break through the barriers that we’ve created for ourselves. 

Yesterday you had a think about what you would be doing, who with, and when, if there was no imposter syndrome in your life. There was maybe some huge things in there; running president / applying for X factor / representing your country at your favourite sport! etc, but there might have been some smaller things in there too. Let’s start to focus in on teaching yoga, and on the smaller things that you’d do. Maybe putting yourself forward to cover a yoga class for X teacher, or teaching a workshop on Y subject, or signing up for a training on Z. 


We’re starting small, cultivating the skills and ability to shatter imposter syndrome, and then we can apply this confidence and knowledge to bigger tasks; bigger projects; bigger undertakings. 
But before we do that, there’s just a few important things to acknowledge: 

You’re human. Humans make mistakes. 

Part of imposter syndrome is being worried about failing.

First of all, as yoga teachers, we know that worrying re-prioritises everything for survival, so we can’t think creatively, we can’t think long-term, we’re way more focused on the immediacy, which is great for mindfulness but not so great for planning and brainstorming.

So, let’s acknowledge this up front: say in your head or out loud: I’m human. Humans make mistakes.

One more time!

I’m human and humans make mistakes.

Instead of thinking Oh god i’mgoingtofaili’mgoingtofaili’mgoingtofail, can you re-frame this to: I’m going to try this, make some mistakes, but that’s exciting because i’m going to LEARN something! 

Remember that Krishna tells Arjuna that there is action in inaction? There is action, i.e. there is going to be consequences / results, by you doing nothing… so you might as well take the risk and try something that you do want to do. Yes, you might make mistakes. Yes it might turn out completely different to what you hope, but you’ll learn learn learn. Plus, usually things are a little easier second time around.

So let’s say, you’ve decided you’re going to run a yoga for office workers four week course. You’ve wanted to do it for ages, so you’re doing it! You’re doing it! You choose the dates, prep the content, create beautiful images for the social media promo, and the course start date rolls around and you have two people signed up. Rather than thinking of it as a mistake, rather than thinking you’ve failed, reframe your thinking: this is a great opportunity to learn.

Use your two people as an opportunity to quell your nerves and show up each week. Insecurity and confidence are related: Before week 1, you’ll probably feel insecure. But after week 1, when you’ve shared your knowledge, guided your yogis through a lovely course session, and asked for a bit of feedback at the end, they’ll likely say they loved it, and you’ll notice that the insecurity has turned to confidence. This confidence grows week on week, so next time you run the course, you’re excited about it, and you can confidently ‘sell’ places on the course because you really do know it’s of so much value. 

It’s not just you. 

There’s 60 people doing this challenge. 60. By definition, imposters feel that everyone else has got everything sorted, but they’re the one person that doesn’t. They’re the one person that feels like they’ll get found out. But that can’t be the case if lots of people feel like that!

So, recognise, it’s not just you. There’s lots of people held back by imposter syndrome, which makes dealing with the effects of imposter syndrome far easier to deal with. 

Feelings of apprehension mean that you CARE

As you start to work on your new ideas, you’ll have moments where you just think ‘I can’t do this’ and you’ll want to give up.

Pause.

Breathe.

Like we did on day 1, feel those feelings, notice the sensations in the body. Where is that feeling? What is it, really? Butterflies? An increased heart rate? A headache? Those feelings are now there to remind you, that you are capable, and that you care. How lovely!

Be mindful of the negative bias

Humans are wired to focus on the negative. In many ways, that’s what keeps us safe. If we’re walking down the road, we’re scanning for cars, trip hazards, lampposts etc. The negative bias keeps us safe – however – it tends to spill in to other areas of our life too… i.e. when you’re looking at your offering as a yoga teacher, you don’t want the negative  bias popping up then!

To beat this, simply catch yourself, focus on the thought, and meet it with an opposite. So, you catch yourself thinking ‘you don’t have enough experience for this’ and you meet it with ‘you have experience, skills, passion and dedication. This will be a wonderful offering.’ 

The Imposter Roommate!

As yoga teachers, we know that thoughts aren’t facts. Thoughts are not facts. Just because you find yourself thinking ‘you can’t do this, it’s too big of an undertaking’ does not mean that that is now fact. I know that you can hear it inside your own head, I know it sounds like you. But it’s not you.

Let’s take inspiration from Michael Singer’s book The Untethered Soul and fully externalise this voice. Let’s call it the Imposter Roommate. Whatever you wouldn’t take from your roommate, don’t take it from the Imposter Roommate! 

Push your boundaries

We need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Get comfortable with change, with new things, with putting yourself out there. As you go through your day today, think; what could you do that would be out of your comfort zone, but comfortably so.

We’re not going big, huge, massive.

Yet.

One step at a time.

Maybe you teach a chant at the beginning of one of your regular classes. Maybe you try a little more Sanskrit. Maybe you experiment with more silence… Only you know your challenges… Let’s face them!

Today’s task list: 

Create a fact file of successes

Start off your fact file of successes – this is a document that you can refer back to any time, to provide evidence to yourself that you are successful, and the reason you are successful is because of your ability, skills and / or competence. Yes, some successes might be down to luck, or right time, right place, or who you know… but that does not in any way, devalue your achievement.

Your fact file might include obvious achievements, like educational milestones, like getting a qualification in something. It might include lifetime milestones, like getting married or having a baby or leaving someone that wasn’t right for you. It might be career milestones, like promotions or pay rises. It might be general wins, like managing to organise a girls holiday when the odds were against you, or saving up some money….

Your fact file might be full of things that make people green with envy, or it might be more ‘run of the mill’ things that were hard for you but you achieved them anyway. No one ever needs to see this list. The sole purpose is to provide you with your own evidence base. Remember, imposter syndrome is having a persistent belief in lack of ability, skills or competence. So let’s build an evidence base that you can’t argue with. 

Push the boundaries

In your yoga teaching, get out of your comfort zone, but comfortably so. Only you know where you are now, what boundaries you have in place and where you want to be. Start slow and start small. Pick a boundaries and smash it to the ground! And do it today! When you get a doubting, nagging feeling, simply pause – notice the feeling in your body, acknowledge it, breathe deep and continue!

Remember that one of the ways that imposter syndrome can manifest is as procrastination. So, no dilly-daillying. You probably already know what you want to do, so go go go – do it! 

Journal

You might like to journal this process. Let’s say you want to put on a workshop to help office workers reduce their stress levels. You think of a name, write up the blurb, and just as you’re picking a date, your imposter roommate starts up: This workshop sounds pants, you’re going to have to make it more exciting. Or, you’re charging far too much, no one will pay that with your lack of experience.

You get the picture!

Pause, and write down these thoughts. Sometimes seeing them on paper removes all their power.

Be kind to yourself! Above all, be kind to yourself. Change takes time, and we have the rest of our lives to conquer this.

A Meditation: Let’s Break Down Barriers!

Tomorrow, we’re growing: Growing in discomfort, and growing in progress. Can’t wait to see you then.

With love,

The Yoga Hero Team

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