As I write this I am listening in to my interview on 106.7fm Kennet Radio with Carolyn Luckygirl for her Feel Good Friday radio show.
I’m shaking with nerves, my heart is pounding, my face is flushed and I feel slightly sick.
Maybe that surprises you when I show up on live video, blog regularly, have been called a ‘professional provocateur’ but I still get nervous as hell showing up.
Every time I walk into an in-person event I get butterflies.
I listen again to every single podcast interview I appear on and critique myself.
I have recordings of my appearances on BBC 2, Radio 5 Live and more that are sitting in the archives because I’m still quite nervous to share them.
Why is that?
Because I have struggled with imposter syndrome my entire life and these moments in the spotlight can create a huge flare up of those imposter thoughts.
Does that mean I stop showing up?
Does it hell.
I do it even more. And it doesn’t necessarily get easier but it does become more comfortable - and when that happens I turn the volume up louder, get louder and brighter and put myself even further out there for all to hear and see.
Imposter syndrome is that nasty little voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough, that you don’t belong, that no-one really likes you. Imposter syndrome is the blue monster on your shoulder singing Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ in acapella on repeat.
I have adopted my little monster on my shoulder as an extension of my fight or flight syndrome; i know that imposter syndrome will flare up most when I am doing something new or that stretches me, or when I’m feeling unwell, unsure or unclear. When I’m not standing strong and secure in myself, it’s voice gets louder and tries to tempt me back on to solid, familiar, ground.
That, in and of itself is no bad thing, because after all our fight or flight response is one of the things that has kept human beings safe over millenia…
But being safe and being fulfilled are often opposing concepts.
So how do I manage imposter syndrome when, like a small child flinging themselves headlong towards the biggest, brightest, loudest ride at the funfair, I am always putting myself directly in the path that my imposter syndrome monster wants me to avoid?
Well truth be told, I’ve already told you the answer above.
I’ve adopted my Imposter Syndrome monster. And much like the Elizabeth Gilbert quote about fear riding in the backseat, I acknowledge that it is always going to be there, and I will listen to it’s wise counsel.
However, I am completely free to exercise my own discretion and choice, and frequently will thank my Imposter Syndrome monster and continue along anyway, turning his radio channel right down and turning the music UP.
Imposter syndrome isn’t something to be overcome, in a ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’, ‘strong women are fearless’ ‘live fast die young’ kind of way. It’s something to be rehabilitated.
Because short of a lobotomy, you’re never going to eradicate that voice.
Just as I will say time and time again that the opposite of burnout isn’t energised or emphatic but resilient, you don’t actually want to eradicate that imposter syndrome, self cautioning and counselling voice.
Trust me, I’ve worked with people who have experienced traumatic brain injuries and lost their inhibitions - it’s not an easier life!
So by rehabilitating the voice, listening to it but not being beholden to it, being aware of it but not being a slave to it, you get to take the action that will move you forward. Over time you become aware of when the imposter syndrome voice is about to throw a paddy and how you can get to take greater care of yourself and, in doing so, help to calm the imposter syndrome voice.
As I sit here writing this blog I’m listening to the radio show interview and reminding myself…
No matter what I do, I get to be safe, I get to take a huge amount of care of myself.
I say thank you to the Imposter Syndrome monster and ask him if he wouldn’t mind putting his headphones on whilst he listens to his Idina Menzel version of Creep.
Because I’ve got something better to listen to right now!
PPS Isn’t it time you focused on increasing your resilience to feel happy, just like I did in this blog, instead of getting stuck in struggle and overwhelm all the time? Also, isn’t it time you and I got to see each other face to face, eat cake and be thoroughly spoiled for the day?
On Sunday 13th October I am holding the Serenity Social in-person training day from midday to 5pm in central Birmingham. There will be plenty of 1:1 support time, a ram packed programme of increasing resilience AND happiness (because why choose when you can have it all?) and you will leave the day feeling uplifted and with a plan (I love a good plan!).
It’s the final couple of days to join us at the early bird rate before the price increases to standard ticket access, prices rise on Monday. Click here to reserve your seat at the tablet (only 4 places remaining!): https://searchingforserenity.vipmembervault.com/.../view/17