(originally written Aug 3, 2016)
Every now and then most of us experience the feeling that we aren’t as good as others think we are, and that we, ourselves, know we are. For solo-preneurs, such as myself, who do their own marketing and advertising, that feeling can usurp what we know to be true about our skills and abilities.
As I sit here typing this, I’m feeling it just now. I feel like an impostor, a fraud, and I have been feeling this way for a while.
I have dealt with chronic pain and anxiety/panic disorder for a long time (17 years; they came as a package deal; lucky me!), which is how, in short, I came into the field of holistic healing, and which were also fundamental in my creation of the Core4 programs that target those very issues. I had a major breakthrough with the chronic pain last Fall, going from a seven on the pain scale – those were my good days – to a four, which is a far cry from a seven if you have ever dealt with severe pain of any kind. The anxiety has been well managed with upticks being rare.
Yet, like I said, I feel like an impostor just now.
During a physical exam in early November 2015, I suddenly had one of the worst panic attacks I had ever had. I passed out and was unresponsive for “well over a minute” according to the doctor. When I first started to become conscious again, I was laying on the floor and emergency personnel were rushing in; so I was out at least long enough for the call to 911 and their subsequent arrival. (I had laid myself on the floor as soon as I knew I was heading for an impromptu slumber.) It took me well over two hours before I was able to get off the floor and have my son, who happened to be working nearby that day, drive me home. It was a full week before I felt normal again. Since then, I have had a doozie of a time with the anxiety. Never before have I had an exacerbation last so long; though it still rears it head more than I would like, it is again well managed, primarily with self-applied holistic therapies.
The prior October I had a major breakthrough with the chronic pain. I was sitting on the couch, engaged in self-treatment, when Bam!, the pain levels abruptly dropped from seven to four. And stayed there! Until about three weeks ago… The pain slowly crept back in, but in ebbs and flows rather than consistent. Yesterday, however, I woke up feeling like I had been mowed down by a freakin’ convoy (No, I gladly haven’t had any personal experience with being run over by a convoy, but I imagine it would feel quite like I did), and the pain kept going up, up, up as the tears streamed down, down, down. Due to the pain, I was unable to run energy or even use EFT, so I instead employed the rolling back massager, the vibrating back massager, hand massage (at least the areas I could reach by myself), a hot shower, two rounds on the moist heating pad – you can find the most excellent heating pads ever, both dry and moist heat, of all sizes for various body parts at Thermophore.com – pain reducing essential oils, muscle pain rub, and two doses of pain medication and muscle relaxer – yes, I do take prescriptions when I need them. I believe holistic and conservative care are a good combination. – I finally broke through the pain exacerbation around two o’clock this morning. Today, I am in full recovery mode, and feeling much better!* A five or six on the pain scale beats an excruciating dear-God-please-kill-me-now so-far-off-the-scale-it-can-not-be-quantified number any day.
So, yeh, I’m kinda feeling like an impostor in spite of knowing, and having numerous doctors state so, that my improvements during these 17 years have come about because of the work I do on myself. (In year 14 of this whole fiasco, one of my doctors, who I see regularly, and on a day which was particularly bad for me, said, “You’ve done more to heal yourself than the medical community has been able to do for you in 14 years.”) But I know feeling this way won’t last, it never does.
Everyone has doubts about their talents and skills. An artist or writer having a creativity lull may feel like an impostor during that time. A medical specialist who has a high success rate, but who then acquires the same condition she treats, may feel like a fraud. A plumber whose own house regularly bursts leaks may feel like a fake. A golfer who has won the Masters, but then who has several bad games, may feel like a fake. A genuinely loving and compassionate parent who has had a seething day, who then scolds her child for dropping a glass of milk, may feel like an impostor. But those feelings – sometimes they can last weeks or even months – eventually wane and we get on with things.
3 Things to Do to Help Ease Impostor Syndrome
(It’s a real thing! Look it up!)
- Accept that you’re not 100% qualified to (insert whatever it is right here) – and that’s OK!
Seriously. Because no one is! No one. If you’re dealing with impostor syndrome, it’s likely because you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself, because the standards you have set for yourself are entirely too high. For crying out loud, you’re human and perfectly imperfect. So take a step, or ten, back and remember that. Let it really sink in. Say it out loud! “I’m not a 100% qualified because I’m a perfectly imperfect human. Everyone is!”
- Be open about how you feel, because chances are other people feel the same way.
When you talk about feeling like an impostor, you discover that other people – including those you think have their sh*t together – feel the same way about themselves. Opening up in this way will help you realize you’re not alone. In fact, people will tell you, genuinely, how amazing you really are. Other people see you, your skills, talents, knowledge, etc., from different lenses, therefore they are able to see things you don’t.
(A word of caution here: if you tell your buddy you feel like an impostor when you aren’t truly feeling that way, if you’re simply fishing for compliments, then you really are an impostor and will eventually be found out.)
- Just breathe and remind yourself it’s just Impostor Syndrome.
Take a few minutes and do a little mindful breathing. Breathe normally and pay attention to the breath as it moves in and out. There’s nothing else to do. When you’re ready, remind yourself, out loud, that you’re feeling like a fraud because of impostor syndrome. Sometimes just naming a beast takes the power out of it. Keep breathing and reminding yourself of this. Then get back to work!
*Now, two days post-pain flare, the pain levels have dropped back to four. YAY!
Have you ever felt like an impostor? Help us all feel a little more connected by sharing your story in the comments below.
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