imposter syndrome by Bronwyn CleeHave you ever had got caught up in questioning yourself to the point of doubting your knowledge, ability, skill and experience so much that you sabotage yourself? If you have you’ll know what the silent Imposter Syndrome drone in your head sounds like. Shitty self-sabotage crap like: “What if I’m not good enough?” or “What if I can’t meet people’s expectations?” or worse still “Who do I think I am??” and “Why did I ever think this was a good idea?”

Just in case you’re not familiar with it, here’s what Dr Google says:

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. 

Interestingly there are 219,000 searches on this topic with a single search taking place every 43 seconds… That tells me there are quite a few of us out there experiencing the debilitating effects of this nasty syndrome, and maybe, just maybe, you’re one of them.

I confess, I am very familiar with Imposter Syndrome and recently had a trip down memory lane. In fact, I almost convinced myself that agreeing to provide a specialised 2-day training was one of the worst decisions I had made in a long time. It was starting to feel like a massive error of judgement on my part and I even went so far as to teeter on the brink of making myself physically ill. Questioning in my head, I doubted every slide I showed, and each activity I led, right up until lunch break on day 1. And for what?Stress before presentation

No good was gained from this self-sabotaging behaviour. It was completely unnecessary! I was thoroughly prepared, had great materials and had my fabulous mentor encouraging me pre-training. And ultimately, all of that self-doubt didn’t do my presentation any justice. Sure a little bit of self-doubt can keep us on our toes and ensure we are reading our audience and tuning into the ‘room’. But when it’s excessive to the point of getting in the way of great facilitation, it becomes a problem.

Unfortunately, I’m told it is common among other presenters, speakers and trainers that I talk with.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, I did everything I thought I needed to do before entering the training, had every resource organised, IT sorted, room layout arranged to the training needs etc. I even did my Tapping (EFT) beforehand. And yet that niggling voice in my head kept questioning whether:

  1. a) I could meet the expectations of the participants
  2. b) I had enough materials for that cohort
  3. c) I still had it in me.

Oh, and did I mention, just to add another layer of complexity this was the second training of its type I have presented in 14 years?  Mind you the first one was 5 weeks ago and for some reason, I wasn’t as nervous about that one. And I have delivered numerous training that I have written in the last 15 years. But this recent one, for some bizarre reason, nearly took me out.

This led me to pause and reflect on why was that so, and what will make a difference in the future?

Now like I said, this is a common phenomenon and I know I’m not the only person who experiences Imposter Syndrome. However, after this recent experience, I have made the following pacts with myself: I, Bronwyn Clee,

  • do NOT want a repeat of those intense Imposter Syndrome feelings again.
  • want to learn from this experience and figure out how to circumnavigate future occurrences.
  • to be kinder to me!

One of the reasons this recent experience distressed me is that in the lead up to this training, I inadvertently lost quality valuable time being present with our son and his wife who were visiting from NYC.

Another biggie that nearly undid me was the internal stress I created resulting in a huge energy slump toward the end of the training.

And finally, the missed opportunities caused as a result of my focus being on fear rather than trusting myself.

So here’s my pledge to myself, and I’m more than happy for you to steal it if it resonates!

HOW TO HELP YOURSELF

  • In future, I will take more time prior to training to check in with myself and gauge where I’m at.
  • I will monitor what I need to do to better manage myself.
  • If fear comes up around my knowledge, experience and ability to train I will speak with my mentor or trusted friends to do my best to unpack why; what it’s really about; and how I’m going to work with it.
  • I will be kind to myself.
  • I will do all I can to ensure I get good sleep, eat good food, get plenty of rest before and after the training.

Obviously, I would love to say I’m on top of this now and that it won’t ever happen again, however, given my complex trauma history, I can’t guarantee that. You see there were triggers going on for me that I didn’t realise until I got to the other side of this event 2 days later.

And while I learned a lot, and have some great points to reflect on for future training, the biggest thing I take out of this experience is to go back to the basics of Self Care (another topic I’m very passionate about).

By the way, the evaluations from the 2-day Protective Behaviours training were universally positive… And the following week I was a panellist for an Innovative Incubator for Menzies School of Research where I was told my input was invaluable. Why you ask am I sharing this? Well, it serves as a reminder that quite often we are our own worst enemies and that others perceive us quite differently from how we perceive ourselves.