On my first day of school, at the age of five, I encountered my first dose of Imposter Syndrome. Of course at that tender age, I had no idea that such a creature existed. But over the course of my life, I would inevitably find out.
Naturally, as you do, I thought I was the only one who felt unprepared for what happened in school. But it wasn’t simply that I was concerned. No I was terrified that I wouldn’t know what to do, how to act, how to ask for anything, know where the toilets were, or what was expected of me.
It wasn’t only that I felt nervous and insecure and felt that the others all belonged and I didn’t, that they were already streets ahead of me, it was that the fact that I felt flawed and not enough and that no amount of learning would ever change that. And worse still, I believed that everyone else could see my inferiority and I would die of shame.
The feeling inside was the deepest fear I have ever felt. I hated anyone looking at me. I wished to become invisible. Some days I just wished to die.
Adolescence escalated those inferiorities, as I did not develop womanly features like all the other girls. When I was 17, I actually looked 12. Naturally, I was shunned by the boys, which in hindsight, was probably a good thing. Five amply endowed girls in my street and beyond all became pregnant in their teens. One of them twice. Poor old Pauline always was a slow learner.
As I learned to cope and hide my insecurities, I developed as many young people do, a persona that was wild, weird, quirky and really out there in my dress sense.
I forced myself to do things like go out in public alone, travel to foreign countries by myself and I learned to fake it till I made it. But that never really happened. I felt the fear and still did it. It wasn’t until many decades later that I completely lost the insecurity and realized that we all have flaws and that radical acceptance of self is what is required.
We all have flaws at the level of personality. None of us are perfect. But somehow we think we are the only ones. It was a magical day when I found out that it’s common, in fact part of the human condition. Whatever that is.
But the truth is that our essence is pure. We are beautiful diamonds, perfect in our imperfections. We don’t need fixing. We need radical acceptance of our imperfections.
Today, vulnerability is the latest buzzword. The idea of showing your imperfections to the world and being OK with that might have helped me a lot when I was younger. But probably not. The fear was too intense.
Feeling like I wasn’t enough and the shame that accompanies that surfaced again in my career as a teacher. Who was I to think that I could be a high school teacher, me who was expelled from school?
But I worked like a crazy person on a mission to save the world as a way of compensating and somehow got away with it, or that’s what it felt like. But I still felt ‘less than’ the other teachers. I know now how ridiculous that is but feelings are feelings.
A job is one thing, but starting a business from scratch puts a whole new perspective on things. Now these old fears and beliefs were really given a good shake up and made a whole new appearance in my life. The crap had never really left my sh#t bucket. It was festering there waiting to ambush me in a whole new way.
And it did. For the whole four years I ran my business, I felt physically sick that I would be found out, that my flaws and inadequacies would be revealed for the whole world to see.
Eventually the stress took its toll and I sold the business. Sure it was successful and yes, even now what I created was so good that it is still being talked about, but I still felt like an Imposter.
How can that be?
What’s in our sh#t bucket can be powerful stuff. It can drive us crazy, make us feel all sorts of things that aren’t real.
Where did mine come from? Who knows? Does it matter? Not really.
All that matters is that you learn how to empty the crap that’s in your bucket. Especially the stuff that says you are not enough, that you are inferior or that makes you feel like a fraud.
My case was extreme. Chances are you have never felt that bad about yourself ever. So why did I share that personal story with you? For three reasons.
The first is that if I could change my own very limiting story in 30 days, then you can certainly change yours.
Every one of us with few exceptions have at some stage felt like they weren’t enough. I’m sure that if you dug deep enough with any one you would find traces of it or a past history of it. Even top notch entrepreneurs who might never have felt that in their career, have probably experienced it in their love life or as a parent.
Virtually no one is exempt. It touches us all. It is only a question of degree. You are not alone if you feel like this.
The third reason I shared my story is that I want to free from you from the limitations this old programming creates.
This is how I emptied my bucket and became free of feeling like an imposter.
I made it a 30 day project. I set a very strong Intention to leave this behind in all the ways it manifested in my life. That meant all the feelings, stories and behaviour patterns that were created.
I decided that every single day for 30 days I would work on releasing the story and the feelings and take on a new belief.
And I also decided that if 30 days wasn’t enough to shoot this monster, then I would continue until it was done.
I wrote a list of the things I wasn’t good enough for. And I refuted them daily.
And affirmed the opposite. And I did it with gusto. No half baked, wishy washy bland affirmations for me.
I made a list of all the people I felt inferior to. And I repeated the above process. I did this until I felt as good as everyone on the list and then some. Because that’s the truth.
I made a list of all the times I had experienced this feeling and decided to let them go. And I choose to feel confident.
There is no right or wrong way to do this. This is more about your Intention than the actual process itself.
It’s about you deciding that the old story is over for you and it’s time to write a new one. It worked fairly quickly for me because I used Tapping. If you know how to use that, then do. It will speed up the process. But even if you don’t, you can decide what you want to keep believing in. We can change our stories.
You can do this. Believing that you are an Imposter in business or that you don’t deserve to have what you want or feeling inferior in any way to anyone is a crazy way to live. And extremely limiting. And it doesn’t have to be like that.
So, what’s stopping you from feeling like you deserve to live a #lifebydesign?
If you need some encouragement and a bit more direction, join us in this Facebook group that is filled with ways to change our mindset and ramp up our personal development journey.
If you need some extra help in sorting out this Imposter Syndrome, or any other block to your success, let’s schedule a Discovery Session to see if we are a fit.
You aren’t a fraud or an Imposter. You never were.