Over the last few months, I have been having a crisis of self belief and self confidence and this is a pattern for me that comes and goes. Its like a monkey on my shoulder.
It has come about for a reason, (also a pattern for me), that is a healthier one. I am incredibly curious about life, about people and about experiences and this last year I have thrown myself into many new situations involving travel, stretch and meeting many different kinds of people.
I changed job and chunked up to working at a regional and national level instead of just a local level. I went freelance part time. I joined Ulab, a movement to make a difference to self, to organisations and to society. I started an online international coaching circle. I completed a life changing NLP trainer programme and have done other in depth courses in Clean Language and Applied emotional intelligence.
.. and yet I still am prone to imposter syndrome. I can feel less clever, less articulate, less qualified, less proficient or whatever, and on occasions I have noticed (and occasionally others have noticed) me withdrawing into myself rather than contributing, for fear of looking daft.
When I notice myself in this particular state, here are some strategies I have found work for me. I hope that in sharing some of them, they will be useful to you too.
Recognising patterns in myself has been helpful. Keeping a journal and writing in it on a daily basis is incredibly helpful in recognising patterns. Once you notice a pattern you can 'pattern interrupt' and do something different - anything - to get a different result. I make an effort to be kind to myself, give myself positive feedback. I say STOP to myself when the negative inner voice starts up. I allow my body to tell me what it needs in terms of relaxation, a walk, some nice food. And I talk to somebody I love and who loves me about what it is that is on my mind..
Just do it. This week when I had to do couple of things that were new to me and where didn't have a clear objective, I just had a go, literally put it out there and took feedback. and the feedback was great, really positive with a few helpful suggestions that made it even better. My tip - don't wait till you have it right or perfect or have all the answers or fully understand it - just put it out there and be clear that whatever it is is a work in progress and that you would like feedback and constructive critique. This builds trust and relationships too as you bring an honesty, openness and a vulnerability that encourages the same in others.
Facts not Mindreads. Do you think people are thinking something about what you are doing (and its usually not so positive)? This is a mind read!
Instead why not ask them? Be honest and be specific about what it is that you want feedback on. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Asking for feedback is incredibly helpful in challenging and testing your own assumptions.
When I told my boss about how I was feeling he was flabbergasted and gave me some wonderful feedback that gave me a different perspective. He understands the areas I feel weaker on and has been incredibly generous in sharing tips and strategies and also how he has often felt the same and what he does to get himself in the best state.
Get in your best state. Recall a time when you felt confident, happy and creative (or whatever resources you need in your situation) and go back to that time as though it is happening right now. What are you seeing, feeling, hearing, tasting and smelling? What are people saying to you, what is the environment like, what are the expressions on peoples faces as they interact with you, how are you interacting with them?
As you are really at the peak of that experience, anchor that. To anchor simply make a replicable gesture such as touching your thumb and little finger together, or touching your elbow - something discrete that you wont do day to day and as the intensity of the feeling subsides, release your anchor. Repeat this process three to five times.
Now future pace. Imagine a time in the future where you will want to be confident, happy and creative (or whatever your resources are). Take yourself to that specific time as though it is happening now. Touch your anchor and see yourself in that picture, feeling confident, happy and creative. Again notice how you are engaging with people and they with you. What are you seeing, feeling, hearing. Are there any tastes or smell?
Release your anchor as the intensity of the experience subsides.
Now imagine a time when you are in a situation that isn't going as you would like it to. Touch your anchor and notice how you are, how people are reacting to you, how your body feels. What are you saying to yourself? What are you hearing from others? Are there any tastes or smells, and again, as the experience reduces in intensity, let go of your anchor.
How does that now feel?
Do keep topping up your anchor by reimagining your experience and touching your anchor. Notice the difference that this makes to how you feel when you use your anchor.
You can also use pictures, smells or objects as anchors. I use two bracelets with messages on as anchors and I wear one or both when I need to. One says 'believe in yourself' and the other, 'do what makes you happy''.