When I worked at Comcast, every morning our boss would have a “huddle” to discuss any major topics with the team. It was a quick way to touchbase with everyone since we were scattered around the state. And almost every day I would pray that the call was cancelled, if it wasn’t I was riddled with anxiety challenging myself to, “say something smart, say something smart…” The calls were usually short, light-hearted and painless. I had an amazing boss and my co-workers were some of my favorite people… So why did I freak out so much?
That lack of self-confidence, the anxiety and doubts about your thoughts and your achievements, the overall feeling of not good enough…That’s called impostor syndrome, my friend. I thought that once I “made it” then I’d feel like I deserve a seat at the table but confidence is not a destination, it’s a state of mind. I worked hard to get that job and I was good at it but that didn’t matter.
So how do I create that state of mind? Here are my 5 tried and true tactics to derail those feelings.
1- Challenge the chatter. This is the most important step so it has 3 parts.
You have anywhere from 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day and something like 80% are negative. Your brain is prehistoric, so a “negative situation” is equivalent to being eaten by a wolf even though you just need to have a tough conversation.
So how do we get it to stop panicking?
- a- confront your thoughts. In psychology, they call the nasty voices in your heads Gremlins after those slippery suckers from the 1980s film that die from light exposure because often, just exposing our negative thoughts can make them fizzle out. I don’t know about you but I have a chorus in my head from the fat-shaming Gremlins, to the “you’ll never make it” Gremlins to the “that outfit looks stupid” Gremlin, collectively I call them Twig Bitches. Recognizing the Twitches’ songs makes it easier to change the station (like what I did there?).
- b- play chicken with your fears. Other times, I just face my crazy fears head on and ask myself, what’s the worst that can happen? Most of the time it’s highly unlikely or, not so bad. At Comcast, I’d always come up with- you’ll get fired. And even I would roll my eyes at the idea of getting fired for not saying something smart on our morning conference call, like, really?
- c- treat yourself like a bestie. When I hear the mean, unmotivating voices in my head, I’ll ask myself- what would you say to Erin or Sarah or Philippe or your sister or your brother if they told you they felt this way? For me, this is the most effective way to change the narrative in my head. I believe that my friends and family are perfect specimens and the only other job I would do forever other than the one I do now is to spend forever telling them so. Think of your favorite person- your kid, your mom- what would you want them to know about their greatness? Now apply it to yourself.
PRO TIP: Meditate. Start with 2 minutes a day. Meditation is all about focus, if you can teach yourself to focus on your breath or on counting or on a color for extended periods of time, you’re teaching yourself to ignore those Gremlins all together.
2-Be the star of your own show. So when I become a fan- I fangirl out and get obsessive. Recently, it was all things Rachel Hollis. I read her books and loved them so I started following her on every platform and, she became the voice in my head. But she’s (obviously) very different from me and I found myself getting such anxiety because I didn’t do things like her. So I stopped following her. I listen to her podcasts, I’m going to her business conference but for now, that’s all I can handle. I couldn’t keep comparing my beginning to her middle. Or anything about my life to hers, honestly, she has 4 kids, she’s been an entrepreneur for a million years and she loves romance novels. I’m living MY dream, with 1 kid, 1 year down, reading books about complicated women…You’ll miss your big adventure watching everyone else’s.
3-Know your personal why. I was raised to value education and family. Education to my parents equals PhD or MD. Family equals your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, all your aunts, all your uncles and every.single.cousin, 1st to 115th. Trying to abide by those definitions, I am $12k in debt for an MBA I don’t want and I had almost 300 people at my wedding… With that track record, I’ll be broke and disappointed, school is expensive and I invest a.lot into my personal relationships so I figured out my own set of values.
I still value education- I am lifelong learner, and I love to learn from books, people and experiences, not just school. I also still value family, my immediate family primarily and a decent portion of the rest.
Values shouldn’t feel like obligations and the result shouldn’t be acceptance from others. When you live your life by values that you choose, it feels blissful, like you’re living YOUR dream.
4-Celebrate yourself! This life is stressful and you’re doing great, take a minute and tell yourself that. Once the end is in sight for one goal, I’m on to the next. I got my first paid client, now I want my 15th. When I quit my job at Comcast, my boss gave me invaluable advice- she told me to take a minute and celebrate my accomplishments every step of the way. Your accomplishments don’t always come with a big loud bell announcing your victory so if you don’t ring it yourself, you’ll constantly feel like you’re striving, and nothing is ever good enough. What’s the point of working so hard if you can’t enjoy it?
5-Mind your tribe. If when I told you to treat yourself like a “bestie,” you thought, “toughen up, loser.” Then either you need to be a better friend, or you need to get better friends. Friends lift you up, not knock you down. Tough love is a lie, empathy and compassion will take you further than criticism ever will. When I forget, I know I can call any of my friends and they will remind me of the amazing person that I am.
The truth is, you’re already sitting at the table. The only person who needs to believe that you deserve to is you, everyone else will follow suit…
Need help owning your seat? Let’s chat.