“Fall in love with your inner imposter.” The words came to me the other day in meditation. I looked around, incredulous, as if I would see the speaker of the message so I could ask them the most pressing question on my mind: But… HOW?
Even after a successful career spanning decades, I suffer from imposter syndrome. Anyone who tells you they don’t may be lying, or they may not be pushing themselves towards big enough goals.
So, what’s a high-performing human to do?
When confronted with confounding problems, either internal or external, I seek a solution within the framework of Gratitudeology™, a word I lovingly added to the modern mindset lexicon.
On the simple end, Gratitudeology is the study, practice, and application of positive psychology.
To examine its more personally relevant complexities, I must reveal a bit about myself…
I struggled with addiction for a decade. It almost killed me. When I came out the other side, I found life in recovery. In doing so, I came to recognize something: an attitude of gratitude is the heartbeat of happiness.
I learned to see the opportunity in my struggles, instead of numbing against them.
A difficult friendship? A chance to practice patience.
A disagreement with a colleague? A chance to practice forgiveness.
A rude commuter on the subway? A chance to practice empathy.
I started praying for my enemies, volunteering for service positions to practice humility, and showing up early for the tasks that freaked me out the most to see if I could contribute and learn instead of being so afraid.
And… magically… life started to get better. Like, a lot better.
I left my two-decade career as a senior-level public relations executive and committed to helping others improve their lives as a full-time wellness expert and mindset mentor, teaching people how to unlock the power of Gratitudeology to fall in love with doing the things they hate the most.
…like showing up, despite a wicked case of Imposter Syndrome.
So…. let’s tackle it.
By separating from your inner imposter, you can see the little bugger for what it is, thank it for showing up to teach you a lesson, and move on… without letting it shake your confidence.
Your inner imposter is likely one of three different character archetypes… in other words, versions of yourself that no longer serve you.
For each archetype, we can have empathy and gratitude for what they’ll teach us about ourselves… but we don’t have to give them the keys to the kingdom.
This is simply a former version of you — perhaps even your inner child — that hasn’t caught up with your current progress & success.
Have you ever heard a story about someone who lost 100 pounds, but when they look in the mirror, they still see a heavy person staring back at them? It’s the same type of dysmorphia — the belief system hasn’t caught up to the reality of your capabilities.
Did you feel intimidated as a child or young adult? Your imposter syndrome may just be a resurfacing of that sentiment. Think back on childhood you: It’s easy to have empathy for someone so small and unsure. Perhaps they just need a tight squeeze from a more confident friend. You can be that friend! Get in there and show up for them. Give them what they need. Don’t argue, or look down in disdain. Approach them with gratitude, saying “Thank you for trying to keep us safe from getting hurt or failing… but we’re all set here.” Then give them a hug and send them on their merry way.
This version of your inner imposter just wants the easy way out. Don’t listen to them… it’s a cop-out!
This version doesn’t want to take big risks (“Too scary! Too hard!”), so they’ll convince you to give up before trying. They know that by saying “We’re not good enough, we should quit” … maybe they won’t have to show up and do the hard thing.
With this version, you’ll need to be a bit more firm. You can give them grace for being afraid. You can chuckle at their desire to skirt responsibility and ambition. You can thank them for helping you recognize that sometimes you still have a proclivity to hide instead of showing up — what a great awareness! Then, you can “name it and claim it” by saying, out loud: “Today, I show up. I don’t hide.”
Change happens in the spaces just outside our comfort zone, so having the chance to push yourself past those edges is actually an awesome opportunity to grow.
This third version is a tricky one because they actually believe you can do the thing… but also hold the belief that when you succeed, you’re going to be judged.
This version wades around in constant fear over what other people think. “Are my friends talking about me? Did people think my last social media post was lame? Does my boss think I sound stupid in this meeting?”
They also fall victim to goal-shaming from family members “Why do you want to do that? Don’t you think that’s a bit of a reach? That will never work. Why do you need to take such risks?”
They’re so frightened by the potential for negative feedback — even if it’s in their head — that they allow it to hold them back from going after their goals.
This version of imposter syndrome often shows up when we have to self-promote or do something that feels difficult or “cringy.” The truth is, there will always be people who try to tear us down or judge our success. Haters are a natural byproduct of taking big risks and clawing our way towards a bigger life, and their ire usually stems from jealousy, or an outdated version of “etiquette” held over from yesteryear (“it’s gauche to discuss money,” “women shouldn’t be brash,” etc.)
The truth? What someone else thinks about you is none of your business, and if you don’t learn to navigate past these sticky feelings, you’ll stay stuck forever. YOU write your story, so don’t waste the plot! Be grateful for your ability to cast yourself as the main character, and own it with pride.
When your Imposter Syndrome wants to get the better of you, check your intentions to remind yourself why you wanted to do the thing you’re trying to do in the first place.
The moment you stop making it about you and instead make it about the people you’re serving, you’ll step out of fear and into faith.
Gratitudeology is a tactical, practical, and spiritual solution. When we’re able to acknowledge and appreciate the parts of our inner imposter that are most triggering, they lose their power over us. Instead, we get to recognize and thank them for being of service to us in our personal growth.
That’s Gratitudeology in action.
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