I saw a fellow yoga teacher in class recently, and she relayed she was there because a client cancelled their regular session. She was excited to have some free time in her day and joked that while she could see the shift as an opportunity to practice self care, not so long ago it would have sent her into a downward spiral of self doubt.
I laughed at the familiarity of both sentiments. I also am grateful for "found" moments - unexpected windows of time that allow me to tackle a project - or simply sit still and breathe. But I am not immune to the waves of insecurity they can trigger: He cancelled our session because he is bored with my teaching. I really should work harder on my sequencing. Who am I kidding - I'm just not that good of a teacher. Why did I ever think I could make this yoga thing work?!
We have all been there. The Impostor Syndrome is very real. No matter how hard working, well qualified, and skilled we may be - no matter how many accolades we have received from family, friends, and colleagues - we feel we are in some way undeserving. We think we have arrived in our position because we were in the right place at the right time - or because someone did us a favor. And we fear we are one small misstep away from being discovered, and dismissed.
These fears go deeper than just our professional identities. How many times have you tried to explain away a compliment with a self-deprecating response? I'm not a particularly good parent I was just blessed with an amazing child. I'm not very smart, I just read a lot. I'm not a great cook, I just follow recipes.
These patterns are harmful - and often deeply ingrained, but that doesn't mean we need to be defined by them. We all have within us the power to rewrite our narrative. Sometimes a simple shift of perspective is all we need. Rather than focusing on our perceived flaws, we can choose to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. We can call upon our inner Stuart Smalley and remind ourselves that, "We are good enough. We are smart enough. And doggone it, people like us!"
It also can be helpful to acknowledge objective facts. It may be true that your uncle made a phone call that got you a job interview, but you have thrived in your subsequent career because of your hard work and determination. You may have convinced yourself you are a horrible hostess, but people continue to come to your home because you make them feel welcome and cared for.
In trying moments, it can be reassuring to take a cue from the people in your life who love and support you and hold tight to the encouragement they offer. Next time you receive a compliment or accolade, sit with it. Allow the sentiment to become familiar. And if all else fails, allow yourself to be "fooled" along with the rest of the world - and enjoy the ride...