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Motherhood Imposter Syndrome
Motherhood Imposter Syndrome
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.
As Seen In...
What our mums say...
Mandy really encourages everyone
I first attended Mandy’s pregnancy yoga classes when I was pregnant with my first baby, the yoga helped hugely with my pregnancy aches and pains but most of all the support and encouragement from both Mandy and the rest of the group was amazing. Mandy really encourages everyone to engage with each other which wasn’t something that I had experienced in other groups I attended, it meant that I felt safe in asking that daft question or verbalising my fears! I then went on to attend baby massage and postnatal yoga with my first baby and again the support and ability to engage with other new moms was fantastic! I have recently had my second baby and attended pregnancy yoga, whilst I had less concerns and worries about pregnancy and birth the classes gave me a dedicated hour to have just for me...which was so important and you don’t get much time to yourself when you are running around after a toddler! I am now attending postnatal yoga and although this is having to be done via zoom Mandy has continued to provide a safe environment and an opportunity to engage with other Moms! Thank you Mandy you help me keep my sanity!
Every class provides a relaxed and friendly environment
I first attended baby massage classes when my son was 3 months old, and then went on to do mum and baby yoga, and I’m on my 4th block of classes now (my son is now 9 months old!) Every class provides a relaxed and friendly environment, great yoga for post pregnancy, focussing on pelvic floor exercises and breathing, and a general feel good hour where you can forget about the outside world. The cake and tea are a bonus at the end of the classes and I have met some really lovely moms through attending. Mandy has a special gift at teaching and she never fails to create a relaxed environment for the babies, who all seem fixated by her presence. I am so glad I found her classes as Wednesdays are my favourite days of the week! Cannot recommend enough.
I feel empowered as a pregnant woman and as a future mum
I signed up to the class to get to meet local expectant mums with the side benefit of a nice stretch. I did meet some lovely local mums and found it so helpful to have a space where you could talk about any issues and get advice or support. What really surprised me was how much I valued the yoga and stretching but mostly the breathing exercises. It gave me a toolkit of things to do during pregnancy and also in Labour and has made me feel excited for the birth! Mandy’s affirmations during the rest time have really spoken to me and made me feel empowered as a pregnant woman and as a future mum.
The class was so beneficial to me, to have a space just for me to enjoy my pregnancy and learn about the things I can do in birth to help it be a positive event. Thank you!
Mandy is such a positive influence
I went to Mandy's pregnancy yoga class for a block of 8 lessons. I enjoyed it so much that I kept going for another two blocks. You may think you're going for yoga, but it's so much more. Mandy is such a positive influence on how you feel about your pregnancy, birth and parenting. I gained friends, lost any fear of giving birth and am looking forward to joining one of her baby classes with my newborn.
SO glad I'd found Mandy and her classes
I had previously been to a few different yoga classes and found them a bit intense and not what I was looking for. I heard about Mandy's prenatal yoga classes through a friend and it sounded just what I was looking for. From the first session I was SO glad I'd found Mandy and her classes. They are way more than a yoga class - meditation, breathing exercises, relaxation and a chance to chat to other expectant mums and soak in Mandy's wisdom. The jammie dodgers are a welcome bonus to the class too! Since lockdown the classes were via zoom and this worked really well and I still had the same sense of connection and relaxation I got from the in person class. Between classes I also did Mandy's yoga sessions on her website which really helped me stay relaxed and helped my aches and pains. I also made sure I regularly listened to her audio relaxations which helped me stay calm and grounded in those final weeks. Above all of this, Mandy has been a wonderful support and checked in with me after the birth of my daughter and during our hospital stay - Mandy really does go above and beyond and puts out some brilliant online content. I can't thank her enough!
I did want to say thank you. Your classes are fantastic - you explain everything so clearly and know which achy bits to work on. It has made me think that I should find a ‘normal’ (ie not postnatal) yoga class post-lockdown, but finding the time will be a big challenge! I also think that what you do for mums is great and I hope that you will be able to start your classes in person again soon. If I come across any mums to be or new mums I will certainly recommend you, although Arlo was a late (and very happy) addition to our family and most of the mums I know have kids at school now. That’s been another positive for me actually - being able to connect with people going through the baby/pregnancy stage as otherwise it would have been very easy to neglect that side of my life with the demands of having other young children. One of the unforeseen bonuses of Mandy's classes was that my baby always slept for three hours afterwards!
Mandy understands that babies have their own minds...
Mandy was extremely friendly and made me feel at ease so quickly. Which was fantastic as I was nervous being the youngest mum in the room. It was good to introduce everybody and nice for Mandy to explain she understands babies have their own minds so if we wanted to we could feed or change nappies just simply watch.
And she really meant it.
Having tea and cake at the end of each session made you stay and engage with the mums. I loved how Mandy explained all the benefits of the different massages e.g. winds/sinuses Oh and one final thing I loved the goody bag! Couldn’t rate the class highly enough.
Absolutely love her classes
I returned to Mandy's pregnancy yoga classes following my second pregnancy as I absolutely loved her classes first time round and made some solid friendships.
Mandy creates such a welcoming and safe environment. She is passionate about ensuring mums and mums to be have a support network alongside the yoga which is so vital. Her classes provide opportunities for open discussion around pregnancy/childbirth/motherhood and no question is out of bounds!
Following the birth of my daughter, I went on to attend baby massage and baby yoga classes, both of which I can thoroughly recommend. Baby massage has given me some really helpful techniques to manage baby's trapped wind and has also helped me deepen the bond with my little ones. Baby yoga was surprisingly more relaxing than I expected! I have made some amazing friendships that have continued post classes. I would definitely recommend Mandy's classes. She is so honest and puts her heart and soul into her classes.