I’ve coached students, stay-at-home moms, doctors, coaches, lawyers, scientific researchers, computer technicians, teachers, you name it! Do you know what they all have in common? They compare themselves with others (peers, family, leaders, etc.) and feel like an impostor. Over the last week or so this has been the main topic of my coaching.
I was coaching a coach on their business. They were stuck in impostor syndrome and compared themselves to some high-earning coaches. They said something along the lines of
“they’re just born with those talents and strengths and clearly I’m not.“
This is where I became aggressive…probably more so than in any other coaching session I’ve done. I told this coach,
“You’re being extremely disrespectful and you don’t even realize it.”
They had this look of shock on their face. I explained that by saying what they said, they were disrespecting those high-earning coaches AND THEMSELVES by dismissing all of the hard work they’ve done. This coach then started to cry. They weren’t tears of anger or shame, but of realization. This aggressive call-out was an awakening–an invite to see the truth of what they were really doing by comparing themselves.
I know the success-iceberg is cliche but it is for good reason! We don’t know precisely what is happening in others’ lives (yep, even us empaths and intuitives). We rarely get the whole picture which is why comparison can be so dangerous. It’s insidious…masquerading as hope, goals, examples, etc. This is not an all-or-nothing scenario here–some people are in a place where hope/goals/examples are useful tools. But to others who are so entangled with their self-critics, those things become a weapon.
I like to use the example of a hammer. A hammer is a tool. It is used to build houses. It’s also used to tear houses down. It’s the exact same tool, so how can it be so useful AND so destructive? It all depends on how we utilize it.
Feeling like an impostor is common–most people just don’t like to talk about it. It brings out feelings of insecurity, shame, and “not good enough.” Dare I say that ALL HUMANS have these emotions….? The probable answer is YES!
When you feel like an impostor and/or start comparing yourself with someone else, ask yourself
“how can I show myself some compassion?”
Because we’re human, our brain tries to keep us safe–and in doing so it uses the tools we evolved with AND what we have programmed in since birth. One of the best ways I’ve learned how to show myself compassion is by finding where social programming comes into play. We’re taught since birth to compare ourselves to others:
- Baby/toddler milestones (walking, talking, teething, etc.)
- School at all levels (grade levels, the grading system, testing requirements, etc.)
- Work (annual reviews, performance improvement plans, compensation, etc.)
- Socialization (gender, marriage, status, wealth, etc.)
When you start to recognize how much social or societal programming we have taken on and practiced through our lives, how can you blame and be unkind to yourself?
Forgive yourself for accepting the stories (aka programming) and forgive yourself for forgetting the truth–the core essence of who you are.
You don’t have to change your past in order to create the future you want. You can’t. But what you can do is start remembering who the F*CK you are, show yourself compassion every step of the way, and celebrate as much and as often as you can (this includes gratitude).
Take accountability to remember who you are; what you want; what you stand for; the path you’re on and where you’re going.
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