Blog Posts

April 22, 2019

That Little Voice of Self Doubt (part 3)

In the third and final installment in the 'self doubt' blogging series, I'd like to welcome back PJ Sangalang, BA, MA (Psychology) to talk about the Imposter Syndrome. Thank you SO much PJ for the interesting and insightful post!

The Little Voice grows up into the Impostor Syndrome

As Erin-Brie expertly described the last two posts, even a squeak of self-doubt can mushroom into a louder, more crippling voice, echoing throughout one’s psyche, infecting confidence and skills. “What am I doing here? How did I even get to this esteemed position without someone finding out that I’m not the best at what I do? I feel like such a phony.”

And with that angle, I’d like to extend this conversation to introducing the Imposter Syndrome, a cognitive bias in which someone feels as though they do not deserve their successes, believing their accomplishments are not due to their skills and ability, and believing that they are, in effect, frauds. Subsequently, this mindset leads one to think that all that they have achieved to get to this point—and anything they will accomplish from this point forward—is undeserved. A quote by decorated actress Kate Winslett summarizes this elegantly: “Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this. I’m a fraud.”

It really does feel like an extension, if not altogether a “grown-up” version, of that voice of self-doubt, does it not? It is important to remain confident in one’s internal abilities, believing in the hard work, sacrifice and natural ability that have led you to where you are. As Erin-Brie has noted previously, it is about turning negative, destructive thoughts into positive, constructive ones. Specifically in this case, explaining your successes as being due to you, not something else.

My job entails training and teaching new hires in the company, and in our busier seasons, I have a month to turn bright-eyed, motivated new hires into bright-eyed, motivated independent employees. As you may guess, the first day with the new group is the most nerve-racking, and that abstract self-doubt transforms into phrases such as “What if I mess up? What if I miss something? What if they don’t understand what I’m talking about? What am I even doing here?” Uh-oh.

To solve that, I like to catch myself even before that self-doubt has a chance to talk, and use it as motivation. “You’re not going to mess up and you’re not going to miss anything because you’re prepared. They’ll know what you’re talking about because you’ve dealt with dozens of groups and countless individuals and you’ve dealt with it all. And if you miss something or mess up? You know how to fix it. You’re here and you’ve been here this long because you’ve developed your style to suit different individuals and their own learning styles, with success. You’re no imposter.” To that effect, I don’t even give my doubts a chance to speak, explaining how I have done my best to overcome my obstacles, and in effect motivating myself even further to do a good job by reminding myself that I’ve done so before.

Instead of wallowing in self-doubt, it would be far more constructive to focus on how your abilities got you where you are—and will take you to where you want to go. Think of the things that you have done to get you to your successes. Don’t let that tiny voice of self-doubt grow further. Before it has a chance to speak, tell yourself and the world that “I deserve all this because of me, and of that, I have no doubt!”

Moving you forward, WLS

April 15, 2019

That Little Voice of Self Doubt (part 2)

Why do we have this self doubt? What fuels it?? Perhaps we hear words/statements from long ago playing in our heads; memories from the past that still speak to us in the present. Maybe we were told in childhood or early adulthood that we weren't good enough or that we didn't have the capability to do something. Often we internalize other people's opinions of us, or even worse, the opinions that we perceive they have of us.

Perhaps we feel it is better to be a self-doubter than to appear overly secure. Do you think there is a fine line between confidence and conceit? A fear of appearing conceited or asserting our abilities only to risk failure, creates a vicious cycle of insecurity. We need to feel that it is ok to be proud of our accomplishments and successes. In knowing that we're taking responsibility for creating the life we desire, and in knowing that we are the ones taking action, we can acknowledge that opportunities and successes aren't happening to us merely because we are lucky, but that our skill, hard work and dedication is the driving force. Of course, we are assisted by others in our supportive network, or (depending upon  your beliefs) perhaps spiritually. But it is crucial that we value our own contribution and congratulate and reward ourselves for a job well done.

So, if a little voice in your head is saying "stop, you can't do this!" it's up to you to change your thoughts from negative to positive before the negativity spirals out of control and overwhelms you. Instead, tell yourself something along these lines, "I have the abilities and/or experience to do this. It's ok to make a mistake, everyone does. I've got this."

Think back to positive comments that have been given to you that reinforce the intelligent, capable, fabulous person that you are. Think of some tangible examples of your successes, ability to defeat challenges and to overcome obstacles. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in and support you, not who put you down or diminish your light.

Take ownership and be proud of who you are....and let your light shine.

Moving you forward, WLS

April 8, 2019

That Little Voice of Self Doubt (part 1)

Do you sometimes feel like you don't belong? As though you're 'faking' your way through your career successes, or that you're just having a lucky streak that will end at some point? Think about you own your successes or do you have feelings of inadequacy and a lack of self-confidence?

Truthfully, many successful people feel inadequate. Their feelings of self-doubt are overwhelming and can be all-consuming, but on the outside they look secure and confident. I recall being in court with a senior Crown Attorney while I was articling. When I got up to face the judge, I felt my legs turn to jello. Of course, the words came and all went well. Afterwards, I explained to my colleague how I felt and he made the analogy to a duck - it appears to be gliding across the water effortlessly, while in fact it is paddling like mad underneath!

What was really important in that situation was my internal dialogue. What was I saying to myself to get through? And what did I say to myself afterwards to have the courage to do it over again? I honestly can't recall, but I want to stress how important it is to have positive self-talk. We are our own worst critics and what may appear disastrous in our minds, often goes unnoticed by an outsider! We are often the ones who stop ourselves from progress, from taking new opportunities and challenges. Why? Because we give too much "air time" to the little (or big!) voice of self doubt in our heads.

Self-doubt can negatively affect us in all areas of life. For example, professionally we can limit our opportunities for advancement and socially, we can withdraw and become less engaging with others.

We are not only fearful of failure but can also be fearful of success. We wonder, will a new opportunity be accompanied with difficult challenges? And, can we really do what we are setting out to or will we disappoint ourselves and others?

For the next 2 weeks, we'll further develop this topic. There will be an interesting guest blog post on the "Imposter Sydrome" as well. Stay tuned! See you next week!

Moving you forward, WLS

January 21, 2019

Resolution Solution (part 2)

In last week's post, we discussed making the conscious decision to be more positive and how that can be achieved in a world where we are bombarded by negativity. Today, I want to turn the focus inward to look at our own internal voices.

The noise isn't always outside, we battle internal demons as well. Our "inner critic" is crafty. It rears its ugly head when we're feeling low, afraid, or lacking in confidence. Unchecked, this can lead to disastrous consequences. This internal monster needs to be managed. We need to be able to acknowledge its appearance and recognize the negative voice in your head. Once you're aware of its presence, take action. Tell it where to go! Even saying "Stop! Enough!" may be sufficient to quiet the noise. Lastly, try moving forward using self-affirmations. These will be different for everyone as they should not feel forced, "canned" or fake. Create ones that work for you. Use them...and believe in them.

Another important point in the discussion of positive vs. negative thinking, is the potentially damaging effects of over generalization. Make an effort not to globalize or overgeneralize your thinking. The world isn't black or white...there's a lot of grey in the mix too. Be conscious of the use of the words "always" and "never" (such as: "I always fail when I try to cook this" or "I'm not going to try this activity because I'll never succeed"). Can you work on those statements to frame them more positively? Constantly overgeneralizing can create a vicious cycle. Negative expectations are fuelled by negative thoughts. Negative thoughts create negative energy, attitudes and behaviours....thus creating a negative outcome....not surprising. So try to change your perspective and look for positives in a situation and experience gratitude, because things could always be worse.

Take a look at your focus. Both good and bad things happen to us over the course of a day/week/year, so to what are you giving the most energy? Is it the 'negative drama'? If so, try to highlight the positive. Look for good in the world and feel optimistic about your future. Look for what made you happy, excited, energized, proud, etc. and talk about these things instead. Just like negativity, positive energy is highly contagious. What you put out into the world you tend to receive, so try passing along a happy bug (which, unlike the flu bug, people will be glad to catch along with you).

Moving you forward, WLS

January 14, 2019

Resolution Solution

Are you a resolution maker? Like many others in the world, you may have started this new year with a list of "Must Do's" (such as sleeping more or going the gym) and "Must NOT Do's" (eating fast food, smoking etc).

The great thing about resolutions is they don't have to be written for January 1st. In fact, some people find them to be more effective when they're set at other times of the year. Regardless, they do serve an important purpose. They're helpful in causing you to look at your big picture goals/vision and to examine how satisfied you are with your life today in comparison to the life you desire.

In making these key changes and moving forward, working with a coach can be very effective in helping you explore and further define your goals and to align them with your passions. We can help you to navigate through the complexities of life as you journey towards your goal while overcoming roadblocks that stand in your way. As well, we'll  keep you accountable to the small, manageable steps that you've created en route to your end goal.

In reflecting upon the goals that you may have set this year, was "having a positive outlook and attitude" anywhere on your list? Some of us naturally exude positive energy (and if this describes you - thanks - the world needs more of you around!) A positive outlook is beneficial to us in many ways.

They say that misery loves company, and negativity can inadvertently affect our own feelings and decisions. At times, we fail to differentiate ourselves from others. We need to acknowledge our own uniqueness in perception and experience, and know that we may not feel, interpret or react in the same way.

When negative gossip is being shared try to avoid engaging and instead, share something positive. Change the conversation around and make a positive contribution. Yes, sometimes gossip can be useful. It can make us feel closely connected to those with whom we are sharing and it can create a sense of belonging, understanding, and intimacy. However, it can also be incredibly destructive, unproductive and even harmful to our own well being. Try to shape a negative discussion into a more positive one while exercising good judgment and sensitivity. Even if you see the conversation as useless, negative banter, the speaker may feel differently. To him/her, they may be expressing a significant experience and it may be an emotional issue for them.

In next week's blog, I'll continue this conversation with a discussion on the effects of internal negative "noise", as well as how we can try to avoid making broad (negative) generalizations.

Make it a fantastic week!

Moving you forward, WLS

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