Coaching & advising others for a living is a unique and sometimes strange experience.
Through my coaching business, speaking events, and monthly blog and newsletter, I’m able to share insights I’ve compiled throughout the years. My work seems to be the medium through which all the experiences, stories, anecdotes, and conversations that have impacted me become sage words for those tuned in. Often, when I give advice on situations I’ve personally experienced, I have a surreal feeling that I’m giving advice to an earlier version of myself.
Typically, as I start to appreciate the full-circle catharsis of this advice-giving and celebrate the signs of a life well-lived, feelings of self-doubt rise to the surface.
Offering guidance to others is one of the great purposes of my life, loaded with responsibility and fulfillment second only to that of being a mother and wife. Having a meaning that I care about so deeply can leave me vulnerable to self-reflecting questions of whether I’m even qualified. Who am I to give advice when I don’t have it all figured out? How can I share wise words when (admittedly), I don’t feel very wise at all? Why would anyone listen to me when I struggle to practice what I preach?
These questions pile up and create a crushing fear that if anyone really knew me with all the imperfections and mistakes in my life, they wouldn’t think I’m worthy of my role or suitable to advise anyone. When something you care about so deeply is at risk of being lost, you tend to find ways to cope by hiding, covering, or shedding all sources of vulnerability out of fear of being “found out.”
Lately, these feelings have been floating to the surface more often than not and manifesting in behaviors like repeatedly pushing out my book release date. I have been teasing and hinting at the release of my new book for some time now under the guise that “it’s not ready yet,” but the truth is that I was not ready yet. I was not ready to face the feelings of self-doubt, especially with everything happening in my personal life that made me feel less-than-qualified in my professional life.
The truth is that life has looked quite different from the way I would have liked it to look over the past few months. In January, my father-in-law passed away after succumbing to a fight with cancer. While the loss of a family member is emotionally taxing enough, our family experienced the added pressures of my husband becoming the primary caretaker of his mother who is currently suffering from Alzheimer’s. In a matter of weeks, our lives changed drastically. I know we are among many people who find themselves caring for elderly parents while working and raising children, it is a rewarding and challenging time. While many adjustments are being made, time is always a bit lacking for everything that must be done.
To be fully transparent, I am nervous about sharing this next part. Listening to others’ heartbreak and receiving their stories with empathy is part of my role, but when it comes to my own experiences, I have trouble expressing my feelings in a way that shows true openness. This topic is one to be handled with care, and the best way that I can express myself is by telling our story outright.
After the passing of my father-in-law and my husband assuming the caretaker role of my mother-in-law, my sweet, sensitive 27-year-old son, Hogan, who has been battling mental health issues for the past decade, intentionally overdosed on fentanyl in February. He has given me permission to share his story understanding that it could help other families in similar situations realize that they are not alone. My son survived after four horrifying days in the ICU by no other explanation than a miracle and a mother’s prayers. I am happy to report that Hogan is doing well and is at a treatment center getting the help he needs. He is optimistic and is looking forward to his future for the first time in a long time. I would like to share my deep appreciation for The Healing Sanctuary. This has been the right place for Hogan to heal and learn new tools.
This event has shaken my foundation and evoked earth-shattering emotions. While I have never shied away from telling the truth about the traumas and pains from my past, an event like this feels different. I find it very difficult to pull back the curtain on my family’s inner world because as a coach, I want to show how my outlook and mindsets create a joy-filled life. I thought that if everyone saw what was going on behind the scenes, they would no longer see me as a guiding light of my own philosophies. It took some time for me to understand that choosing to be vulnerable could be helpful to families who struggle with mental health and addiction in a way that makes them realize they have support. This part of my story and the lessons I am learning in this new phase will not be part of my book because you cannot write the story while the story is still happening. I have realized however that I will continue to share the details of Hogan’s story to shed light on an issue that continues to get worse rather than better. I have learned so much and continue to learn about an epidemic that is impacting so many families. I am compelled to do whatever I can to bring awareness to much of the broken system that is helping to create this problem.
I realized recently that my feelings and anxiety over releasing my book were part of a phenomenon I have become familiar with in speaking to my clients. I was experiencing a textbook case of imposter syndrome – an unfounded feeling of self-doubt and unworthiness. Imposter syndrome tells us that we have fooled everyone into thinking that we are qualified and capable and that we are but one mistake or discovery away from being “found out.”
Imposter syndrome is much more common in the workplace and in life than we think, and those who suffer from it often go to extreme lengths to keep themselves from being discovered as undeserving. The irony is that these people are often seen as high-achievers in the workplace because they overwork or operate as perfectionists to compensate for their feelings of self-doubt. As you can imagine, this keeps the cycle going. Instead of relishing in accomplishments, those who experience imposter syndrome believe they are simply a product of overworking to maintain an illusion and to mislead colleagues. This can create spiraling feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety, and even depression over time.
The anecdote to imposter syndrome is identifying the limiting beliefs that fuel feelings of self-doubt and developing true confidence in our abilities.
In my experience, I now recognize my anxiety over releasing my book as imposter syndrome, and I am working hard to launch it despite the feelings of self-doubt. Below is a guide on how to recognize and overcome imposter syndrome and start the journey of building more confidence at work and in life.
The Limiting Beliefs
Limiting beliefs can often provoke imposter syndrome. We might not realize it, but the scripts that we have in our heads for what we should be doing create unrealistic expectations that hold us back rather than propel us forward. Below are a few examples of limiting beliefs that create feelings of self-doubt:
– Capable people can figure out any problem easily and without trying hard
– I should be able to do everything on my own
– If it isn’t perfect or close to perfect, it is a failure
– Asking for help means I can’t do it on my own
– I should know the answer to every question that pertains to my job
– This should come easier to me
– I made a mistake, therefore I am a failure
As you can imagine, thoughts like these can prevent us from seeking help, trying new things, taking on new responsibilities, and even volunteering our opinions in meetings. Because every thought we have is underscored by these anxieties, it is difficult to partake in behaviors that build the confidence to offset imposter syndrome.
Building confidence especially when dealing with imposter syndrome can feel like an uphill battle. These practices for building confidence might look different for everyone. For some, it could be baby steps whereas for others it could be a sprint. Show yourself some grace and appreciate every bit of progress as you work to build confidence over time.
- Talk about feelings of self-doubt: This one can feel especially vulnerable, but it is important to understand that everyone experiences self-doubt, even the people you admire. Look for opportunities to connect with others and come clean about how you are feeling. Odds are they will contribute their relatable feelings or battles with imposter syndrome.
- Look at your workload: Those who experience imposter syndrome often take on too much to alleviate feelings of guilt. As a result, the quality of your projects could suffer. Select a few tasks that you feel capable of performing and complete them to the best of your ability without overworking. The output will likely be more satisfying and of higher quality.
- Step out of your comfort zone: The hard truth is that confidence is not found within your comfort zone. Even if you need to make slow progress, attempt to push the boundaries of what you feel comfortable doing. This will look different for everyone. For some, it might mean taking on a new responsibility or learning a totally new skill. For others, it might mean speaking up on a call or spontaneously stopping by someone else’s desk instead of sending an email. Identify the moments that make you slightly nervous, and each time you face them you will feel more confident and capable.
- Remember your strengths: It can be easy to focus on our shortcomings, but remember: you wouldn’t be in your role if you were not qualified. Try creating a mental list of your skills, qualities, and achievements that make you uniquely qualified for the role above the pool of people you were selected from. This can pull you out of focusing on the negative and instead lead you to affirm your abilities.
- Build mentor relationships: A mentor/mentee relationship at work can be critical to your success and also to alleviating imposter syndrome. Look for a mentor who you admire and that you can be honest with. It can be your direct manager, but it doesn’t have to be. Be vulnerable and forthright with any doubts about your abilities and admit when you don’t know something that you feel you should. This will work wonders on any anxieties or feelings of guilt and give you an ally you can trust. You should also pay it forward by acting as a mentor. Feeling like you have a positive impact on someone else’s career is an excellent confidence-builder and can feel very rewarding.
I hope that this guide and my story help others understand that feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy, and shame are more commonplace than we may think. Going forward, my son and I have agreed to work on this account together to help share our story and let others battling mental health issues or addiction know that they aren’t alone.
If you or anyone you know are dealing with addiction, mental health issues, or having suicidal ideation please reach out to get support from the below hotlines. And most importantly please know that you are not alone.
National Suicide Hotline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
I invite you on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth, into ever-increasing authenticity and self-love.
I created my personal Map of Me to help guide my decisions from a place of strength. My Map of Me has awakened me to who I really am, and who I want to be. It allows me to live from my design at my highest and best, as well as plan to shore up the weaknesses—and it’s given me the ability to see and appreciate the differences. I believe that all individuals should be authentic, open and able to express themselves fully with confidence—your Map of Me is your guide for
doing just that.