Have these maniacal self-doubt instigators ever won you over?
“Nobody wants me here.”
“I don’t belong.”
“Any moment somebody’s going to see I’m just a fake and I’m really not good at my job.”
Or the famous line from the sadistic mother in Carrie: “They’re all gonna laugh at you.”
These are fallacies from the pit of hell. Unfortunately, too many of us trick ourselves into believing they’re true. Professional women or children of one or more narcissistic parents often suffer with what’s been called Imposter Syndrome:
“…the inability to accept and claim accomplishments no matter what level of success, even with hard-won achievements because there is an irrational fear that you don’t deserve the success or maybe you are just a fraud. Outward signs of accomplishment are seen as just good luck or good timing. An “imposter” feels as if she or he has been deceptive and has made others think he or she is more intelligent or skilled than they really are. While this is true for narcissists who don’t necessarily have the resume to back up the grandiosity, it is not true for hard-won success.” (McBride, Karyl Ph.D, Will I Ever Be Good Enough 2009).
I admit I was plagued by this the better part of my 23 year radio career. Lucky for me sheer ‘time served’ began to chip away at it.
However, it’s still a troublesome companion from time to time, sometimes it even springs up at events where I’m the speaker, emcee or facilitator!
A natural human defense against feelings of inadequacy is to develop a strong exterior or ‘front’ we put forth for the world to see; even though deep down we feel kind of inadequate, alone and afraid. What helped me immensely was moving out of my denial about these dual realties. Something therapist call integration (or something like that).
Here are a few other suggestions I’ve found helpful in the self-esteem battle that eats away at so many of us:
- Praying religiously (is that an oxymoron?) for God to heal my self-esteem. (Fortunately God has ‘gifted’ me with the love of reading inordinate amounts of psychobabble on the internet which has proved helpful too. Something any good doctor will strongly warn you against.)
- Practicing self compassion like author and therapist Kim Fredrickson talks about in her book Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend. In other words, stop beating up on yourself.
- Practicing humility: “I’m not the best, but I’m not the worst either. I’m simply human.” (Stephen Arterburn must have said this!)
- Comparing me to me-instead of someone else: “Where were you this time last year, or 5 years ago etc.?” (Advice from a friend named Ingrid Wilson).
- And finally, when I’m about to enter a place inhabited by actual humans, I remind myself over and over again:
You are not an Imposter. You are not an imposter. You are not an imposter. You are not an imposter. You are not an imposter.