For some of us, spending time with friends and family during the holidays is a much-needed break from imposter syndrome. Our loved ones are an oasis where we can be ourselves and use our authentic voices without fear or shame.
However, for others of us, the holidays represent yet another place to feel not good enough or like a fraud. Being with all of those people who seem to have it together when you feel like things are going to fall apart at any minute is intimidating and fills you with dread.
If you need help getting through the holidays without letting your imposter syndrome get out of control, here are a few tips:
Practice being present—Imposter syndrome occurs when we let our brains run wild and start listening to the messages it’s sending us. “Alex is so much better at parenting than I am.” “There’s that look of disappointment on mom’s face again. I can never do anything to make her happy.” Etc. These thoughts are a product of an unmanaged mind. We can stop our thoughts and redirect them at any time. When you find yourself slipping into these thoughts, take a breath and redirect your mind in the present. Focus on the smells around you, the colors around you, the ground beneath your feet. Be present and find (or start) a conversation that will engage you. Do not give air time to your imposter syndrome. Like any living thing, it will soon die without that air. *Note: if you’re new to redirecting your mind, it will take lots of practice at first. Just like a toddler being redirected away from the pile of gifts or delicious sweets, you will have to stay on top of it for a while before it accepts your redirection.
Connect with someone in the room with you. Imposter syndrome thrives on isolation. It makes us feel unworthy and convinces us that no one could possibly want to talk to us. This is a lie your brain is telling you to avoid rejection! Your brain wants to keep you and safe, and the safest place to be is in your own brain where no one can hurt you. The longer you listen to its messages, the harder it will be to push them away. To avoid this, preplan a couple of people you know you can connect with. Then connect with one of them as soon as you can. If you’re really feeling brave, share with them how you were feeling about this event. Remember around 80% of us experience some type of imposter syndrome. The chances are good that they will understand how you’re feeling. Vulnerability begets vulnerability and leads to deeper connections. Try it!
Journal about the event ahead of time. Writing your thoughts down on paper can help you “see” them. Once they’ve been seen, you can decide if you want to keep them or try something new on for size. Even a small change in your thoughts can be helpful. For instance, if you write down a thought like, “I hate being around these people,” recognize that this thought is not going to make the situation better—even if it’s true. Come up with a thought that neutralizes the situation instead. “These people are my family.” Or “These people are just my coworkers.” Take the emotion out of the sentence and practice that sentence whenever the other one rears its head.
Dropping imposter syndrome takes a bit of work and commitment, but the reward is improved relationships with those around you and especially with yourself. Take the opportunity of the holiday season to practice some of these tips. Then transfer those skills to the workplace as you learn to drop your imposter syndrome for good.
If you want more tips on journaling effectively, sign up for my free guide on my home page at sonyagreencoaching.com .