Lessons from the edge

Two weeks ago I left home to embark on a bunch of new experiences including being emcee for the national Protective Behaviours Australia Conference. That might not sound like a big deal but it was bloody big ticket item for me. I said yes to this gig 2 years ago, figuring I would be comfortable with my role by the time it came around. I might add, I happen to be the President of PBA so it’s not like I’m new to or don’t know anything about the topic. The thing is, what tripped me up had nothing to do with knowing why the audience were there. It was far worse than that. (more…)

The power of permission

I read a blog recently about writing 500 words a day and the power of it. The blog identified all of the things the writer did before she sat down to write the article and I completely resonated with it. It wasn’t the usual setting up the space stuff, in fact, it was the opposite. And it motivated me to get my butt into gear. After avoiding writing blogs and course work for years, I decided to give myself permission to set myself a 30 day writing challenge on 1st August and here’s what Day One looked like:

Today is the first day of my Write 500 word Challenge. Before I start though, I better mop the floors (even though we have a cleaner), take out the rubbish (even though my husbo does that daily), dust cupboards (stealing more work from our cleaner) and clean the toilet. None of which HAD to be done  but yep, you guessed it, I was in the zone of the blogger who had inspired me. Distracting and Avoiding 101. However I am aware and committed. I know the struggle is real for so many of us. I also know these behaviours are directly linked to A V O I D A N C E. And underneath avoidance is fear of  (more…)

How to learn from imposter syndrome

Have 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.

When are you going to stop beating yourself up?

I am so dumb! I’m never going to be promoted.

I am so ugly! No one will ever want to love me.

I am so silly! How could my boss take my ideas seriously?

I are so fat! I’m never going to look good in a bikini on the beach.

Why is everyone else so happy and I’m not?

Is this all life is about? Feeling fat and miserable?

Why me?

Ever had these kind of silent war games going on in your head? Around and around and around they go like a stuck record. Day in day out, the constant whining of your negative self talk can become so ingrained it becomes your normal. I’m guessing you know exactly what I’m talking about otherwise why would you be reading this blog? I’m also guessing that you’re are very interested in knowing if it’s even possible to stop beating yourself up right?

Well it is, and I am going to tell you exactly how to do that. Before we get started, feel free to make yourself comfortable and put your phone on silent.Get ready to take notes while we change the record playing in your head.

When I first started out back in 2009 I used to teach my clients to consider their negative self talk as a radio station and to take notice of whether it was a station worth listening to. This way  they could learn to listen to their negative self talk and make choices what to do about it. Choices such as is it worth listening to? And if not to take action. Action like fine tune it, turn the volume down, or turn the damn thing off. Well dear reader, over the years I’ve tweaked my approach to this.For very good reasons. I still believe negative self talk is worth listening to from a learning perspective and in fact believe the more we can pay attention to it the more we can learn from it. But turning it off without learning the message is a missed opportunity. So I ask you, when was the last time you listened to your negative self talk? Remember the key word here is listened.

When was the last time you questioned this negative self talk?

My old swami used to say “observe and don’t participate in the monkey mind”. Almost 23 years later I realise that there are layers to this lesson. You see listening to your negative self talk requires you to stop joining the conversation with it. And instead have an enquiring mind. Now back to the lessons in the layers. Imagine these layers are stepping stones to help you understand what’s causing you to beat yourself up. Think of this like an emotional fitness workout. Follow these 5 stepping stones to strengthen your muscle memory and stop beating yourself up:

Step Stone One: Give yourself permission to observe your negative self talk. Just do that and in and of itself you have put a protective interruption in place.

Step Stone Two: Observe the tone and timber of the voice of your negative self talk. Is the voice yours or someone else’s? If it’s someone else’s, have you given this person personal power over you?

Stepping Stone Three: Ask yourself: “Is this negative self talk serving, supporting, nurturing and respectfully challenging me?” and “What am I getting out of this?”

Stepping Stone Four:  Give yourself permission to release and let this negative self talk go.

Stepping Stone Five: Take charge and take action! Because the trick is to come up with some new positive phrases to tell yourself. And to practice this as often as you can. Oh and be prepared to be surprised.

Your negative self talk has probably been trying to get your attention for some time. My intention is that you are now able to see it as an opportunity to learn and grow, to help you make better choices and to ultimately be kinder to yourself. It is impossible to fully receive love from another until you have truly loved, forgiven, accepted, trusted and respected yourself. Isn’t it time to stop worrying about what you think other people are thinking about you? Crazy thing is they probably aren’t thinking about you at all. In fact, they are more likely to be thinking about themselves – just like you.

If you’re new to this do what you can to strengthen your muscle memory with this new information. Practice loving yourself and being kind, caring, nurturing and supporting of YOU. For you to achieve long term change you need to work at this. See it as your new emotional fitness regime. And if it all sounds too daunting to do on your own and you want some help check out our Self Care Coaching packages and watch out for our Fast Track Self Care Quest. No matter what choice you make, please give yourself permission to get better at self care. Because that’s the secret sauce to stop beating yourself up.

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In 2000, Bronwyn Clee, together with others, pioneered the introduction or Restorative Justice practices into schools and community in the Northern Territory.

It is unique blend of experience … that has allowed Bronwyn to be good at communicating the importance of processes, which treat everyone with respect and dignity, and importantly, are capable of making a difference in the lives of those experiencing difficulties.

Bronwyn is a genuine and compassionate person who possesses considerable moral courage. She is prepared to challenge others in a respectful and constructive way.

Terry O'Connell OAM