Did you know that I used to eat fire?
I’d been working as a circus entertainer and dancer for some time, performing fire shows regularly at a venue in Sydney. Then I moved down to Melbourne, and was booked for a gig in a new venue, performing at a product launch.
I applied my stage makeup, packed my props, and walked to the stop to get a tram into the city for the gig. As I stood waiting for the tram to arrive, the nerves and doubt that I’d been trying to suppress took total hold of me... Who was I to think that my stage show was good enough for this venue and event? Who was I to think I had enough skill? Who was I to believe that I was good enough to do this; to live out my dream of performing on stage? I burst into tears. I could barely breathe. I was absolutely terrified, panicking and overwhelmed. I phoned my sister and wailed down the line, “I can’t do it! I’ve never performed in this venue. I’m not good enough to do this.’ The voice of reason, she assured me that I could. ‘But you’ve done this plenty of times before. And it’s what you want to do.’
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I’ve experienced repeats of this scenario many, many times throughout my life:
>>> I’d resist showing up to the full time circus course I was enrolled in, taking a couple of days off every single week! Everyone else there was a real circus performer. I wasn’t. The voice in my head would compare me to the other students, and tell me that I was too dorky, too overweight, too unfit, too unskilled, too old, too much of a loser to be there.
>>> I never felt like I belonged at university. I’d look around at the other media students, feeling as though they deserved to be there but I somehow didn’t. They belonged there. I was just an imposter, posing as a uni student, with no right being there. I felt anxious, like I could be ‘found out’ as a fraud at anytime.
>>> I still feel like an imposter when I lead meditation classes. Although I’m naturally good at it, and it should be a relaxing experience, it actually triggers serious anxiety and doubt in me. Who am I to teach this? Who am I to lead others? I panic, and secretly hope no one will show up. I find myself having to use EFT (this is a tool I teach in my signature course ‘Release & Rise: Transform Your Trauma’, for women and men who have experienced toxic parenting), do breathing exercises and coach myself through the intense self-doubt and fear before class. Every. Single. Time.
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I was so surprised when my partner, a very talented musician who has been playing music almost all of his life, admitted that he feels nervous before every time he plays. He still feels like an imposter.
And as a high profile 1:1 Reiki client of mine and I worked through her imposter syndrome recently, she commented that she had noticed no one was immune to it:
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Although our minds love to tell us that if we just had that additional qualification, if we had a bit more experience, if we did an additional bit of study… then we’d feel good enough; feeling like an imposter has nothing to do with those things. An extra piece of paper or a new title will not change the way you feel inside.
You don’t need another skill. You don’t need more training. You don’t need another book.
You need to work on your inner self; your mindset and your beliefs.
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Here are some tips for overcoming your Imposter Syndrome:
1. Realise that self-doubt is normal, and everyone experiences it. You are NOT the only person feeling this way. It can be a normal part of being human.
2. Understand that it’s not something you can make disappear forever; but you can learn to recognise it and it’s effects, and use tools to manage it’s impact on your life. Healing and self-discovery is a lifelong journey.
3. Use positive self-talk, affirmations. You do belong there. Start to retrain your subconscious mind so that it empowers you, supports you, and backs you up.
The easiest way to do this is by using a recording such as my Self-Love Affirmations.
4. I like to use this exercise: list 3 ways you’ve added value to the world so far that day. It can be as simple as having conversed with the barista as you waited for your coffee, you held the door open for someone that morning, you showed up to work and therefore added value for your employer and their business…
5. Admit how you are feeling, what you are afraid of. There is so much healing release and power in expressing your own vulnerability. Start talking to others about what you’re feeling… because often, everyone else is feeling the same damn way. Others can help you overcome your challenges, and you can help them overcome theirs.
6. Avoid comparison. We are all completely unique, marvellous individuals. A rose would never compare itself to a daisy and deem itself unworthy because it’s shape is wrong. Eyes in your own lane, just focus on you. Acknowledge how far you’ve come. Focus on your strengths and abilities and achievements. I have regular reminders on my phone throughout the day: ‘I am so proud of you’. You need to hear these things, and you especially need to hear them from yourself, your own biggest critic and judge.
7. Seek out support.
Imposter Syndrome is something I work with many of my 1:1 Reiki and Reading clients to heal.
If you experienced critical or otherwise toxic parenting, my signature offering ‘Release & Rise: Transform Your Trauma’ delves into the origins of your Imposter Syndrome (and so many other challenges common to women with that background) and gives you the tools and support you need to overcome it.