That Pesky Little Voice
I love and live by this saying by Mahatma Gandhi: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever”. I’m constantly curious, I experience as much as I can, and I’m open to the opportunities life presents to be able to live the most amazing life possible, on my terms, as defined by me. However, I also struggle with that pesky little voice inside my head that tells me I’m not good enough and not worthy of the life I have created for myself. This can cause a lot of internal conflict!
My parents have always called me their butterfly, and my husband calls me his crazy monkey, as I get bored easily and am always looking for my next challenge. In my corporate career, challenging myself meant constantly looking at ways to improve my skill set, and going for opportunities in exciting projects, or promotions. Taking on challenging roles did expand and grow my abilities and experience - but every time I moved into a new position, which when I went for it, I could totally see the possibilities of, and what I could bring to the role, there was always at least a 3-6 month learning curve, and with that came a crisis of confidence; that pesky voice in my head asking if I could actually do the new position - and just by asking the question, the self-doubt started to creep in.
With my confidence leaving the building it left me wondering when, not if, but when, my new manager would realize they had made an awful mistake and find me out to be a fraud - someone who wasn’t capable of doing the job they’d employed me to do. My internal dialogue then catastrophized the situation - my whole career would be in ruins, no-one would ever employ me at this level again - you get the idea?
I wanted to prove myself, and prove that the person hiring me had made the right decision. I ended up working stupidly long hours, which lead to many outcomes from feeling burnt out because my work/life balance had disappeared, or resentful because I was looking at colleagues and wondering why they got to leave on time and have a life outside of work and I didn’t, or, my absolute favorite, and possibly the pinnacle of my career, having an emotional meltdown in the office when that one unfortunate person said the one little thing that triggered me.
The doubt in myself could be crippling and caused so much anxiety. I had sleepless nights worrying about the next day; I was constantly scared that today might be the day that I was proved to be the loser or failure I already believed I was. It was overwhelming and exhausting, and I went through it every time I took on a new role or promotion. Yet, it didn’t stop me from taking on new roles and promotions!
I would like to say this only happened in my career, but, alas, that wouldn’t be true! I collect experiences - I love trying new things. I have an ever-growing bucket list and I want to achieve as much as possible before I die. These things range from learning some circus skills (just because you never know when you may need to run off and join the circus), climbing Ben Nevis overnight, graduating with a Bachelor of Science Open degree in my thirties, running a marathon, delivering public talks and workshops on imposter syndrome (even though this scares me, a lot, every single time), dancing in a flash mob, renewing my wedding vows at the Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas (whilst being serenaded by Elvis), being a volunteer at the London Olympic Games, jumping out of an airplane, abseiling down the Spinnaker Tower, making pots on a pottery wheel, glass blowing, busking for charity, performing in a burlesque show, and writing a book.
I don’t share any of this to brag. If you saw me before any and all of these experiences, you would’ve witnessed a woman filled with self-doubt; someone who’s inner critic was telling her she should give up because things seemed too difficult. I was outside of my comfort zone and I battled with the internal conflict of wanting the experience, but not wanting to look like an idiot, or to fail. For most of these [now] accomplishments, there were tears and tantrums! Yet once achieved, I spent little time celebrating before moving onto the next thing and starting this cycle all over again.
It was only when I made the life-changing career move to become a coach that I found ways to help break this cycle. As I embarked on my own journey of self-analysis and personal development, I realized that what I’ve just described, in both my professional and personal life, is a behavioral pattern, and when I researched this, it has a name - it is called the imposter syndrome. The imposter syndrome is when you feel you are a fraud and that you are not good enough or deserving, regardless of the evidence to the contrary.
My coaching training enhanced my own self-awareness and gave me the opportunity to ‘experiment’ with my behaviors to create effective strategies to improve my own mindset and performance - ultimately becoming the ‘best version’ of myself in any given situation. These techniques included: creating an evidence bank of my own achievements that I could refer back to help quieten the self-doubt; using power poses to help control my physical nerves and trick myself into acting more confident than I may be feeling; telling myself “I love you” every time I saw my reflection; and creating an action plan to be able to feel competent and confident in skills I wanted to strengthen, just to name a few!
By learning to accept myself - my perceived warts and all - and then learning to appreciate my individual journey and how all these small achievements and experiences have made me the person I am today, really started to help me feel genuinely comfortable in my own skin. That inner critical voice has become quieter - but when it starts shouting (which it still does when I am pushing outside my comfort zone), I have my own strategies to quickly put me in a more resourceful state. This means I can fully show up in any situation. As me. No apologies. No trying to fit a mold. No worrying I will get ‘found out’. Just knowing my worth and accepting who I am - and having the strategies to quickly quieten that pesky little voice, if it does try to make itself heard!
Lindsey Hood is an optimistic and gentle Life and Executive Coach for successful women who secretly struggle with imposter syndrome. She passionately believes that you have unlimited potential for change and with the right strategies, you can align your inner and outer worlds to live a full and harmonious life. She wants to help you feel truly confident in your uniqueness, to see yourself as others do, to truly harness your natural skills to create and excel in a life and career you love, knowing your worth and being able to show up in all your wonderful glory!
Free resources to overcoming imposter syndrome and building confidence: www.lindseyhood.net/freeguide