The Inviting Shift Podcast

S2 Episode 3: Conquering Imposter Syndrome and Building Confidence

September 12, 2023 Christina Smith Season 2 Episode 3
The Inviting Shift Podcast
S2 Episode 3: Conquering Imposter Syndrome and Building Confidence
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever felt like you're playing dress up in your own life, waiting for the moment when someone discovers you're not quite as capable as you seem? Here's the secret: You're not alone. That nagging feeling is called Imposter Syndrome, and it's a sneaky beast that loves to creep in just when you're about to step up. But you know what? It doesn't have to rule you. This episode tackles Imposter Syndrome head-on, deciphering its roots in perfectionism, fear of failure, comparing ourselves to others, and more. We also shine a spotlight on how to recognize it, and, most importantly, how to overcome it without letting it derail your actions.

Ready to switch gears from self-doubt to self-compassion? Good, because that's what the next chapter is all about. Confidence is a skill, and like any skill, it can be learned and honed, but it often requires us to wade into uncomfortable waters. Whether you're stepping into a new role or grappling with your inner critic, we'll equip you with practical tools to embrace the discomfort that heralds growth. We've all made mistakes and we've all felt that twinge of being an 'imposter' at times, but acknowledging this, learning from it, and celebrating each step and each stumble can be the key that unlocks your confidence. Tune in and let's tackle this together.

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Speaker 1:

Hi, in this episode of the Inviting Shift podcast, we are going to talk about something that comes up so much every time one of my clients or friends is starting a new goal, and that is imposter syndrome. So I know that we've all heard of this term. We've probably all related to it at some point and wondered is this normal? Should I keep moving forward? Am I a phony or a fake? How can I step into this new role or this new position or this new goal and feel like I belong here? So let's start with is imposter syndrome real? And it is. I mean, there's a lot of scientists that study it, a lot of psychologists, sociologists that study this phenomenon of imposter syndrome. But just because it's a real thing doesn't mean that we have to let it take over. It doesn't have to direct and demand or change our course of action, but we can still feel fake and do things at someone else who is real. So if I am in medical school, I'm learning to become a doctor, I then can act as if I'm in a doctor. This is a little different than fake it till you make it, because fake it kind of reinforces the fact that we feel fake. This is more like, do as, do as if you are already in that position. What would someone of that position do?

Speaker 1:

Imposter syndrome often stems from things like perfectionism, comparison, fear, failure, and people who are afflicted by it tend to attribute their successes to external factors. So this is why we feel fake, because if that thing went well, then well, it's not really what I did, it just happened to fall into line. We start making our success about the things around us. Instead of the lessons, we're learning the skills. We're learning the effort we're putting in the energy, the courage, all of those things. So instead of lifting ourselves up with wow, wasn't I brave to go do that thing, knowing that I didn't know much about it, wasn't I brave to try that thing? We tend to say, oh well, I was just lucky, other people helped me, I'm just lucky that it just worked out in my favor. And that is what's keeping us from feeling real real about it.

Speaker 1:

So why and when do we get this feeling of impostoring? Well, it's any time that we're trying something new, and it can originate from various sources, to experiences, societal pressures or a particularly challenging failure can set the stage for imposter syndrome. So when we feel like we failed, we start seeing ourselves as failures in this role or this position and we start thinking, well, I can't really do this. Obviously, I'm not good at it. I should probably stop, I should change, right.

Speaker 1:

We get that inner conflict of our desire of wanting to do the thing and that part of us that tells us, ah, we're failing. Right. We might call that the inner critic, we might just say it's negative self-talk, but whatever it is, there's something that's going to come up Whenever we go to do something new, when we go for growth. We're going to feel uncomfortable, we're going to feel like an imposter, and what we really want is to be able to step into that identity. Right. And by stepping into that identity, what I mean is, again, if I'm going to be a doctor, then I need to start telling myself I'm in medical school, I'm a doctor in training, right, so I am a doctor. I'm just in training. I'm not a fake doctor, I'm not an imposter doctor, I am becoming a doctor. You're an apprentice to becoming whatever it is that you want, right? So I'm an apprentice doctor. Whatever it is, we want to see the positive side of that, that I am stepping into these shoes and new shoes always uncomfortable, right. So we have to keep trying at it until we break those shoes in and we start actually seeing ourselves as the person that we want to be, as the identity, the role, whatever it is. We don't own it until we really feel like we are showing up that way. So what else I want you to know about imposter syndrome is that you're stepping into new things, and this is a good thing. Congratulations. Pat yourself on the back. This is exciting.

Speaker 1:

One of the things I do with most of my clients is celebration. What can we celebrate this week? What did I learn? What did I fail at? Cause? I know that I'm learning something from that failure as well. So how can we celebrate ourselves, even if it's? I had the courage to go do it, even though I knew that I might fail. That is really important for us to celebrate our action steps. It does not matter how it came out. What matters is how did I show up to it, and that's what we work on in the intentional and aligned program is really focusing on.

Speaker 1:

What is it that I control and am I showing up to that in a way that I feel good about, because so many things can impact the outcome of a situation, impact the outcome of a goal. So we don't want to raid ourselves on those external forces that we don't control other people, acts of God, whatever we don't control any of that. So when we focus on what we actually control will have less imposter syndrome. And what I control is how I show up to the situation. Did I show up ready to try the thing? Did I show up with courage? Did I show up being brave and vulnerable and just doing the thing and being open to the learning, rather than it has to show up exactly how I want it to?

Speaker 1:

So the thing with imposter syndrome and that inner conflict is fear. Right, we fear that we're gonna be seen as a fake. Where we fear that other people are gonna know that we're impostering something else. Right, where we feel that people are gonna judge us in some way. And really what's happening is we're judging ourselves. And here's what we need to know is the one major question I always ask my clients when they are doing something new and they have a lot of fear Is this unsafe or is this uncomfortable? And I promise you, most of the time it's just uncomfortable. There's very few choices that we make in our lives that really have to do with immediate safety. I'm not saying that we don't have unsafe places, but what I'm saying is most of our fear is around discomfort, and let me talk about this real quick, because it is actually a feature in our brain that has made humans last this long.

Speaker 1:

Right To make us prosperous is that our brain has that RIS, the Recticular Activity System, and it is always looking for danger. For good reason, right, cause we wanna keep ourselves safe. We wanna make sure that we're not putting our hand in the fire or getting chased by wild animals right. If those things are happening, our brain needs to be able to see it, and so when our brain is always looking for these, any risk, it's a risk detector. Today in our lives, because it is a lot safer, most of us are not getting chased around by wild animals. What our brain does is takes anything that we might deem uncomfortable and puts it in that same risk factor, right? So just because it's uncomfortable, it becomes a risk, and so our brain's looking for how people might judge us, how we might be embarrassed, how we might fail, all of the things that are gonna make us really uncomfortable. That's what our brain is looking for, but there's a difference between safety and comfort, because safety is something that we do wanna take care of. We wanna be weary of that.

Speaker 1:

Discomfort is embarrassment, is failure, is having to start again, things not turning out the way that we want them to right. That's discomfort. None of that is really hurting us right, except for the stories that are being created in our mind about it. It's not physically hurting us, and here's the major point. Discomfort is where the growth is. I don't know about you, but I have never learned a new skill and maybe not never, but most of the time I don't learn a new skill without getting really uncomfortable, without knowing that I don't know what I'm doing and I have to go do it right. That's discomfort, and discomfort is okay. It's okay to be uncomfortable. That's where the growth is. It's just our human habit that we love to be creatures of comfort, right, creatures that stay in these lovely bubbles. But when we stay in those lovely, comfortable bubbles, we're not growing, we're not becoming more, we're not expanding our potential, we're not even reaching our potential. So fear is okay if it's about discomfort. So ask yourself that question when the fear comes up Is this unsafe or is this uncomfortable? And if it's uncomfortable. I hope that you'll look at it and keep moving forward, because that is where the growth is. I want you to really celebrate the fact that you're stepping into that discomfort.

Speaker 1:

So we talked about discomfort. It's a big, major point of imposter syndrome. That is why we're feeling it is because we're uncomfortable and we like to feel confident. Well, what I want you to know about confidence is it's a skill. Confidence is not a feeling that we just one day show up and go oh, I can do this. It is a skill that we employ, and one of the best definitions I have ever heard of it was that that confidence is the skill of doing something, knowing that you may not get it right. So confidence is a practice. It is something that you are going to practice. It is not mean that I come out of medical school and I feel like a doctor. I can go, do all the doctorly things right. I still have my residence, my internship, like all those things right, because we want to practice confidence. Confidence is something that we bring with us. It is not a feeling, it's a skill. And if it's a skill, it means it's something that we can learn and lean into.

Speaker 1:

I want to give you a couple of examples of imposter syndrome. So back when I was like 18 or 19, I started working in restaurants, right, and it started as I was a hostess. Then I moved to a restaurant where we just handed out food. We didn't have to actually take orders and everything and each one of those steps were a little bit uncomfortable. And then when I got to the point where I was a full server and I worked in a restaurant where the servers made their own drinks for their tables too, so I was bartending too my goodness, it was overwhelming the amount of stuff that I had to learn, right. And I remember one night I dumped a tray of nachos on some woman's wool sweater. Right? Did I feel like an imposter server? Of course I did. Was I an imposter server? No, I was a server that was making mistakes and luckily she was okay about it.

Speaker 1:

But I just want us to understand that we're going to mess up a lot and that's okay. That doesn't make us not that role. It doesn't make us an imposter because we mess up sometimes. That is part of the learning. And my biggest example of this is like, when we think of children, do we call them imposter adults, right? Of course not. They have to learn how to walk. They have to learn how to tie their shoes. They have to learn how to read, right. All of those things are hard. We don't say, oh, but they're just their imposter adults, right? They don't feel imposterous and that's because the child archetype is all about learning and curiosity. So the child doesn't normally get upset when they can't tie their shoes the first time. They just keep playing with those laces until they figure it out right. So they're not an imposter shoe tire, they are learning how to do that. That doesn't make us fake, right? It means that we're learning, and if we're not messing up, sometimes I have to wonder how much we're actually learning. So we're going to mess up and that's okay. We're not impostering other people. We are who we are and we're on our journey.

Speaker 1:

So there are a few things that I want you to really think about when it comes to imposter syndrome, just some perspectives that I think are really, really important that we all make mistakes. Remember we're human, we're imperfect. We're going to make mistakes, even when we know better. Sometimes we're not going to do better. Sometimes we're going to mess things up. We're going to forget that one step that we knew that we should do, and that's okay. That's how we learn. That's how we get better. A master doesn't become a master without having made dozens and if not hundreds, of mistakes, right. So learning is making mistakes. That is how we learn. Even if our parents did something perfect before us, we can't just model them and become perfect. We're going to make a lot of the same mistakes. It's just the way that our humanness works.

Speaker 1:

Again, discomfort and safety are two different things. Ask yourself that magic question Is this unsafe or is this uncomfortable? Discomfort is where the growth is. Confidence is a skill. We talked about this, but I want you to really get this in. Confidence is a skill. It's not just a feeling that pops up. Confidence is something that we build within ourselves and one of the ways that we can build that within ourselves patting ourselves on the back and going great job.

Speaker 1:

I know we failed today, but you really put your heart into it. You really showed up to it like you wanted to, christina. So we I'm appreciative. I really love this right. I am really celebrating myself for putting myself out there even if it's in workout the way that I wanted to. It's so important to celebrate ourselves.

Speaker 1:

And I want you to know that everyone started off as an apprentice, right? Everyone started off as a learner. The Nobel Peace Prize winners, albert Einstein, any field that there are experts in they all started from the same spot. So they weren't impostoring their futures, they were just learning how to move through their journey and stepping into that discomfort and that growth. So what can we do instead? What can we do instead of feeling this imposter syndrome, or what can we do when we're feeling this imposter syndrome, so that we can move forward?

Speaker 1:

The first thing is, I want you to feel the fear and discomfort. It's okay to feel it. Ignoring it usually makes it worse, because then there's something in, there's like static in the back of your mind that's going I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm scared. I don't think this is right. Right, all that inner conflict, that inner critic, all of that will come up. So instead, just feel the fear, acknowledge it to yourself, even honor it. Wow, fear, that must mean that I'm doing something new and something scary, and it feels really uncomfortable. It also means that I'm gonna grow out of this, I'm gonna learn something out of this, I'm gonna feel good about myself when I'm done with this because I took the courage to try it right. So feel and acknowledge that discomfort. It's okay that we're feeling fear. Fear is not gonna hurt us. It's just stories that we're making up in our head about how other people will judge us, how we'll judge ourselves, whether the thing will turn out the way that we want or not.

Speaker 1:

Let go of all those expectations, feel that fear and discomfort, and resolve to move forward anyway, meaning I'm gonna take the next step anyway. So we're gonna get our courage up and go. Yes, I'm gonna practice my skill of confidence by moving forward and taking the next step anyway, right. And then we're gonna find the next right step. That next right step may not be just jumping into the thing. The next right step might be let me do a little bit research and see how other people do it. Let me look up how mistakes that other people made so I can do better. Let me just start coming up with different ideas of how I can move forward. That's all we need is the next step. It does not mean we do not need to see the whole thing right Like how am I gonna become a professional doctor? That would be a lot of steps right, especially if we're just a teenager in high school. So just the next right step.

Speaker 1:

So it might be filling out that application, it might be meditating to get more courage, to get more clarity, whatever that thing is. Find the next right step and then take it right, and then we're gonna celebrate how we showed up to it. So, even if I fail a class in medical school, right, I'm gonna just stick with this metaphor that we have Even if I fail a class in medical school, what does that mean? I have to take that class again, right, and I'm gonna celebrate that. I've learned a lot the first time, so hopefully taking it the second time is going to be a little easier. Or maybe my next right step is getting myself a tutor so that I can take that class again. So we wanna celebrate every little step.

Speaker 1:

Yay me for asking for help, yay me for just trying, even though it didn't come out the way that I wanted to right. Yay me for showing up with courage and compassion for myself, right? Yay me, I want this to become your new phrase Yay me. And then tell yourself why you're so proud of yourself. This is how we moved through imposter syndrome. If we had a really great mentor, constantly telling us how great we were doing. In celebrating every little step and lesson with us, we might be kinder to ourselves. So we have to be that person for ourselves to start celebrating ourselves so that we can see that we're not an imposter. We're doing the things. We're showing up. We are accomplishing little bits of the goal at one time. It just doesn't go as fast as we like, but in the meantime, celebrate yourself. That is how we build confidence of being really proud of ourselves for the things that we control how I show up to it right, so celebrate.

Speaker 1:

And the last thing is get support. It could be a supportive friendship group. If they're not supportive, don't share your dreams with them, but if you do have supportive friends, this is a great place. Getting mentors or coaches is a great way of making sure that you're moving along, that you're staying accountable, that you're looking at the situation from the big picture instead of seeing each failure for each time your goal doesn't come out the way that it wants to be, as like the end all be all. I need to get out of this profession because I'm a fake. So we don't wanna do that. We wanna get support, and getting support might be a support group of people who are achieving the same goal as you or looking at achieving the same goal. Maybe you create a group of medical students that are all feeling the same imposter syndrome or whatever it is that you're going through, that you can get support and with people who really understand what you're going through.

Speaker 1:

So here's the five things Feel the discomfort, notice it, feel the fear, feel the discomfort. The second one is acknowledging it, honoring it and create that courage to keep moving forward right, building that skill of confidence. The third is to find that next right step. What is the next right step that I can take? Even if that's, I just need to meditate 20 minutes each day and let go of the fear and ground myself. I don't care what that step is, but just take the next right step. Four we're gonna celebrate every little step and every little bit of learning. So I'm gonna congratulate myself for having courage, for having confidence to move forward on those steps, even if I'm not feeling like I'm getting them perfect or right. That's not the important part. The important part is that I am keep showing up right, that I keep having that courage, that I keep practicing that skill of confidence.

Speaker 1:

And then five is all about getting support, and if you need support, I wanna be able to help, so feel free to reach out, email me. All of my information is below DM me. However you connect with people, I would love to hear from you because I wanna help you stop feeling like an imposter. You're not an imposter. You're just moving forward on something really big and challenging and hard, and that is beautiful because that's where our growth is in that discomfort. And so step in, lean into that discomfort, knowing that you're gonna be really proud and you're gonna celebrate yourself later. If you have any questions about imposter syndrome, shoot them away. Let's make sure let's have a conversation about it on social media or even privately whatever makes sense to you. I hope that y'all have a great rest of your day.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome With Self-Compassion
Embracing Discomfort, Building Confidence