Food for thought | 03/31/2017
You Shouldn’t Always Listen to Yourself
This winter, when the weather was pretty awful, I needed to find something to let my kids burn off a little energy. I found a climbing gym that caters to all ages, packed them up, and we headed out the door for some fun. It was a pretty great way to spend the day.
The gym had walls for technical climbing, bouldering challenges, and a little room for toddlers to free climb or tumble on the crash pads. It was perfect for a 5, 7, and 9-year-old, but during the day of fun, I couldn’t help but notice something that was endearing and also very telling about all of us.
There was a little ledge in the toddler room that the kids could climb on that connected to a slide. It was a great incentive for the kids to make it to the top, and it was just high enough to freak them out a tiny bit. My five-year-old would start the climb to the top and then adorably get scared over what she was doing about half way up. There was absolutely no difference in the difficulty level from the top to the bottom. The only things changing were the thoughts in her mind.
She was listening to the voice in her head that told her to get down from there, that she wasn’t a climber, that she didn’t belong there. It’s the same voice in my own head that talks to me in one of two ways.
Self doubt sounds like one of two things:
- “You have no business doing any of this. You are not a ”
- or, if I somehow overcome that voice, it says “Oh! Look at you! Don’t you think pretty highly of yourself!”
That voice is my Imposter Self, and I know you have that same Imposter inside of you, too. Even the most talented people in their field deal with Imposter syndrome and have to find ways to change their self-talk from doubt to belief if they want to experience lasting change.
More often than not, self doubt finds us when we start to look around and compare what we’ve done with others – that work is more polished, their offering looks more enticing, his book is getting tons of traction, etc.
The key to stopping self doubt is to ground yourself in your own reality. How do I do that?
Whenever the voice starts getting loud enough to keep me from accomplishing my work, I identify the lie I’m believing. It looks a little something like this:
“I can’t make that thing because real developers write cleaner code.”
“Good writers always choose the right verb tense.”
“Top marketers don’t struggle to figure out new ideas.”
These aren’t true, of course. Developers aren’t infallible. Writers have typos. Marketers struggle to stay fresh.
Just saying the lie out loud removes quite a bit of its power over the moment. The rest of it dissipates when I remind myself that perfection is unattainable – that working hard is sufficient.
What about you? What does the Imposter say to you? How do you deal with him?
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