Last night I took part in a webinar for the brilliantly vital Digital Mums who train mums with in-demand digital skills empowering them with tools to seize the digital space.
The inspirational Digital Mum Ruth Thompson of Beyond Busy interviewed me and it was a pleasure to share my experiences with her and the attendees.
…I realise that many people seem to be under the impression I’m ‘Mariah Carey-confident’ (if only)-even Mariah no doubt suffers from lapses, and you might well be surprised to read that even the most talented, qualified and seemingly self-assured amongst us (take Kate Winslet and Tina Fey for starters) have gone on record saying they suffer from the imposter syndrome. So, you’re not alone.
What is the imposter syndrome?
The phenomenon alludes to feeling like a fake when you don’t have reason to.
The term ‘imposter syndrome’ was originally coined by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in their landmark 1978 study of 150 highly successful professional women in various fields where despite great achievement, ranking and salary, many women felt like phonies. And far more than men although can of course suffer too.
Here, I wanted to share the 6 things that help me when I’m feeling down about myself:
- Accept how you feel. Pretty much every human being will suffer from the imposter syndrome. Not all of the time of course, but many have or are currently experiencing it, so if you’re feeling like a fraud, first off make a mental note that at this very second, thousands, in fact millions are probably sharing in your self-doubt too. Many might not even recognise it or admit it if they do, mostly for fear they’re alone in their thoughts. This is the beauty of blogging and social media. We can share personal truths which are in fact, universal. This is vital for both the one sharing and the recipients. We’re stronger together. I personally feel my confidence is knocked the most during deeply emotional times, when I’m sleep deprived, or suffering from PMT and of course I felt at my lowest ebb after suffering a traumatic birth in 2010. If you’re feeling this way, please reach out for medical support and advice and commit to putting self-care first by eating well, taking time out, exercising and resting. I share 50 ways to practice self care here. Don’t forget that fear can be positive too. It often means you want something. I’m constantly scared when I push myself out of my comfort zone. Once I have though, that experience then gives me the confidence to try something else and this equation come into play: action= confidence=opportunity. Kill fear with action. Just do it Nike style!
- Reach out to those you trust. It takes a village to raise a baby right, and it takes a village (virtual or otherwise) to raise a mum/mumboss. If you’re feeling depressed or are suffering from trauma, please reach out to a GP for a referral to a therapist. If you are lacking in confidence generally, speak to those in your inner circle. Ensure however that, that inner circle consists of those you trust implicitly. Distance yourself from faux friends and anyone IRL and online, who makes you feel bad about yourself (you’re good enough at doing that for yourself) and keep those you who you love unconditionally, close-those who have your back. Not Yes Men and Women but people who want the best for you and will always be truthful with you. When you doubt yourself, turn to those in your tribe for honest feedback. I always go to my husband Peter, my manager Neil, my two best friends and my folks. The people in your circle will remind you of how strong you are and the great potential you have. Ask them to list your good qualities as a means to remind yourself. Yes, you might feel like a dingbat but I promise you their words will perk you up. Question why they respect you, and believe in what they have to say. Another useful tip is to reflect on your CV. If you don’t have one, create one. It’s easy when we’re in the swing of life/work or on maternity leave to forget the skills you bring to the table. Remind yourself of your self-worth. You’ll feel stronger for it.
- Know when to take a break. When you feel overwhelmed, take a break. It sounds simple but how many of us actually switch off the computer and chill out when we feel rubbish about ourselves?! How many of us follow others out of some kind of duty, if they don’t make us feel good about ourselves? Check yourself before you wreck yourself and start a spring clean in life and online, right now. Be kind to everyone of course, but don’t feel duty-bound to keep people in your life which only serve to make it more stressful. That’s just not cool.
- Don’t be scared to fail. I never see mistakes as a failure. Cheesy as hell but mistakes are really worthwhile lessons. When things don’t pan out, question why they didn’t and learn from the experience. Ask yourself what you would do differently and action that the next time. I once directed a sci-fi short film that was utterly dire. I wasn’t passionate about the genre but wanted to try it out despite it being a departure creatively for me, and that’s great because you never know if you’ll like something if you don’t try it, right?! A multitude of things went wrong on that shoot (from location set-ups to aeroplanes overhead so bad sound to the wrong crew on board etc etc) yet I learnt more on that shoot than on the award-winning films I directed before it. I also learnt to trust my gut, to let passion lead me, always but to never stop trying out new things. See!
- Show up and over-deliver. When you commit to a job/review/event…anything, show up and over-deliver. People want to work and collaborate with those who are a) good to work with: decent people, those who innovate and of course those who over-deliver. There’s not a single job I’ve not given ‘an Honest Mum extra’ on. People will never forget your commitment and will always recommission you. That appreciation in turn, will give you a confidence boost, making you feel better about yourself.
- Serve others. I interviewed my hero Seth Godin last month and I love his words on how to build confidence,’I don’t think that building confidence is possible, because it comes from a place of fear, and a place of selfishness. When we enter with a posture of insufficiency, it’s not surprising that there’s a lack of confidence.What happens if instead, we start with generosity. If we begin saying, “what can I do, no matter how small?” Each of us is capable of something. And of course, once you do a small thing, you realize that you can actually do a bigger thing. Repeat it until you’re making an impact’. YES one million percent.
- Invest in ‘armour’. So, true to my word as I always over-deliver here’s an extra point for you. Nigella refers to make-up as armour and I say, find yours, whatever it might be. Mine is a red lipstick and I’ve taken to tassle earrings of late, too. ALL the tassle earrings! Truth be told, I felt nervous before the webinar last night but applying some lipstick along with my big earrings, helped me feel ready to face everyone who joined in. And it was FABULOUS!
So that’s it. The 7 things which make a BIG difference to me when I feel pants about myself. Which is often, by the way. The good news is that faking it until you make it, works. The brain is malleable and you can quickly re-programme yourself to believe that you’re not fraud despite all that self-doubt you’re dwelling in- that you deserve opportunities/success/a happy life/good health etc etc. Because you do. You really do.
Mariah knows it, I know it and hopefully now, you know it too!