We all have it. That pesky little voice in your head saying you’re not good enough, don’t have the right skills, are behind in your life, and "who are you to think you can go for the promotion, start a business, or write a book anyway?!?"
You’re not alone. Most women (and many men) experience these doubting, imposter thoughts every day. But we think we’re the only one plagued by the inner critic because we don’t talk about it. No one ever walks into work and says to a colleague, “Gee, I feel like a total fraud. Today’s the day they’re going to figure out I don’t actually belong here and escort me out. You?”
Nope. We don’t say these things.
Instead we sit alone and stew in the cocktail party of doubt swirling around in our heads.
And you deserve better than that.
The next time your inner critic shows up and starts throwing punches, follow these five steps to put doubt in its place and reclaim your brilliance.
Slow down and find your quiet.
Our lives are filled with noise. People and devices are constantly talking to us—often at the same time. If we have a minute of down time, we pull out our phones to scroll through social media or check email. We're so used to noise it can be uncomfortable to be in silence, even though we need it.
Meditation is great for getting quiet and reconnecting to your confident self. It can be hard to find the time. Instead, start by doing activities in silence more often. Drive without the radio. Take a walk without listening to a podcast. Cook dinner without the TV blaring. It will be strange the first time you do it. That’s okay–keep going. You’ll be craving these quiet breaks.
Surround yourself with joy.
What makes you truly good and happy? Is there a friend that lights you up? An episode of Modern Family you’ve seen a million times but still gives you a solid belly laugh? Do you feel most like yourself when you’re outside? (That’s my place of joy!)
Do more of everything that brings you joy, especially when the inner critic shows up. Open the floodgates and LET JOY IN.
While you’re opening the gates to everything that brings you joy; take a moment to create boundaries with the people, places, and activities that make you feel less than stellar. The family member that cuts you down. The book club you’ve been in for years, but don’t really enjoy anymore. The volunteer commitment you “should” do, but just makes you feel overwhelmed and crabby.
Saying yes to everything and everyone only feeds the inner critic. We get tired and resentful and our confidence goes down without us even realizing it. Start saying no. Decline invitations. Stop hanging out with people that drag you down. You’ll feel better and you’ll have the time and energy to show up for what’s really important.
Get clear on your superpowers.
When we know what makes us brilliant, we can stand confidently in our strengths and take bold action. Using our strengths helps us get better results, which in turn makes us more confident. It’s a beautiful cycle.
Unsure what your superpowers are? Ask ten people to tell you a story about a time you were at your best. Look for themes in the responses, combine them with what you love and—ta-da! You have your superpowers. Now go out and use them!
Get out of your head and into your body.
When we’re falling fast into a doubt spiral, thinking and reflecting is not the best route. We need to get out of the ruminating chaos happening in our head and focus on our body.
Dancing is a fantastic way to do this, no skills required! Go into a room where no one can see you, play music that makes you feel fantastic, and just DANCE. Move your body wherever it wants to go. Release all the emotions. And have fun!
What helps you to manage your self-doubt?
Leave your tips below to continue the conversation!
Heather Whelpley is a speaker and coach who guides women to get out of their own way so they can love life and change the world. Heather has led workshops with thousands of people on imposter syndrome, perfectionism, and writing your own rules for success. She is currently writing a book on how high achieving women can let go of expectations and create their own rules for life. Prior to owning her business, she worked in corporate leadership development and human resources for ten years. Heather lives in Minneapolis and loves exploring farmers markets, breweries and anything outside. Like the good Minnesotan that she is, this time of year Heather alternates her time between practicing hygge and cross-country skiing.