Notes On…

Motherhood Imposter Syndrome

Motherhood, Notes

I often feel that I’m not as competent at what I do as you might think I am. I doubt myself, talk negatively to myself, convince myself that everyone else’s classes must be much better than mine and lose myself down the rabbit hole of comparisonitis on Instagram every week.

Bloody imposter syndrome. These imposter pants are a killer for your self confidence.

The me you see probably looks confident and comfortable when I’m teaching or talking with you one to one but that doesn’t mean that I’m not flapping away on the inside. I’d described myself as an extroverted introvert which means that I’m generally ok if I’ve prepared everything 510 times! I was terribly shy as a little girl – or I was told I was. I was the one hanging onto my mum’s legs at birthday parties but this might have been my way of weighing up the situation before I dived in. Who knows? The impact of the stories we’re told needs its own Love Note.

Imposter syndrome is defined as the internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. Yep – this is me. Hands up to this one. Up to 82% of us experience this at some time in our lives.

I felt it as a lawyer, I feel it as a mum and I feel it in my various working roles. It varies from day to day. For me, it’s that feeling of being a bit of a fraud, of being ‘found out’ and not being able to celebrate my successes enough. I try my very best not to be like this but I am someone who needs a good dose of reassurance every now and then.

My imposter syndrome keeps me safe because it stops me taking risks. I make sure I have a certificate for everything I do. Are you a serial certificate gatherer as well? I also triple check everything.

What it also does is make me a little bit paranoid and takes away some of my joy. That makes me sad because I work so hard at everything I do that I deserve as much joy as possible. And you deserve lots of joy too. I want us both to stop worrying that we’re not good enough – we are. We’re amazing!

I had a big wobble earlier this week – comparing myself too much with others – which is why I wanted to share this with you today.

Imposter syndrome shows up in lots of ways:
– fearing that other people are evaluating you; as a mum or at work. I’ve let go of much of this one in my classes but I still worry that if I post a yoga pose photo on Facebook someone will question it.
– thinking that if it isn’t perfect, you’ve failed. For me, this comes from expectations I place on myself. I’ve realised the hard way that done is better than perfect.
– noticing your perceived failures but not recognising your successes. When did you last celebrate the fact that your children are loved, clean and fed because of you?
– talking unhelpfully to yourself, ‘I’m a rubbish mum’ or ‘I’m going to be so behind when I get back to work.’ This is completely unhelpful and you can stop it.
– catastrophising (I used to be great at this – so much better at not doing it now). Do you worry about things like your child not being a maths whizz because you’re not good at maths. I did. Whenever one of the girls struggled with maths – I blamed myself. Again, complete waste of energy.
– using critical words like should, must, or ought. For example, ‘I must read to my child every night.’ or ‘I should stop eating chocolate late at night’. Think of what you do want not what you should because should doesn’t come from within.
– finding it difficult to accept compliments or dismissing them very quickly. Oh yes, I’ve worked hard at this one. I accept them now and it feels pretty good.
– comparing your mothering to other mothers’ which isn’t fair on you or them. We are all different. I found mums in the playground to be very scary until I found my safe group to hang around with. Commit to not comparing and don’t hang around with people who do. It’s very bad for your energy. Playground mums made me cry quite often.

I could go on. Rest assured, you are not alone if any of these ring bells with you.

I’m recovering from imposter syndrome. I don’t think it will ever go away entirely because I still doubt myself sometimes and I still pay too much attention to the negative whilst swiftly dismissing all of the positive. I’m always working on me just as you should always be working on you.

There are small things that can help you:
– focus on all the positive there is around you by starting a gratitude journal.
– hang around with nice people.
– talk about it maybe in a Circle, with friends you know really well or to a coach.
– trust yourself and your intuition. Know that you are enough.
– stop looking externally for reassurance. You are the only one who can give yourself this kind of love. Call yourself out when you say unkind things to yourself. Try talking to yourself like you are your own best friend.
– own your successes. Take the compliments and the credit when it’s due. Also, praise others when that’s due.
– stop striving for perfect. It doesn’t exist. Mistakes are an inevitable part of life that you don’t have to beat yourself up about. Learning to accept that things sometimes go wrong can increase resilience and mental wellbeing. I make mistakes all of the time. I have no idea how to parent an 18 year old but I’m trying my best. I’m clueless a lot of the time.
– create a resilience toolkit that helps you when those comparison pants start pulling themselves up again.

You can overcome all those wobbly feelings.

One thing that really helps me with motherhood imposterdom is remembering this; I am the mother my daughters’ need. You might look around and think that everyone else is smashing motherhood whilst you’re flailing but I guarantee you this – you are the perfect mum for your child. You’re not seeing the tough times other people also go through. Trust in yourself and you’ll be the mother your child needs, the work colleague who succeeds in her role and the friend you want to be.

Notes On…