Archives for category: Shame

I am enough (2)

Do you sometimes doubt your abilities and worry that you are not good enough?  Do you feel inadequate even though what you have achieved suggests otherwise?

If so then you could well be suffering from Imposter Syndrome.  It’s something that has probably always been around but it was given a label in the 1970s to describe the phenomenon in which successful people cannot internalise, or ‘own’, their successes.  It is experienced as a sense of inadequacy and ‘not enough’, even when information suggests this not to be true.  And, interestingly, it is more likely to be experienced by women.

First the good news – if you feel this is something you recognise in yourself then you are not alone.  In fact over 70% of people studied report having experienced it at one time or another in their lives.

And a long list of high achievers have all talked about experiencing these feelings too.  It would seem fame, success and prestigious accolades do not make you immune.

Imposter Syndrome is more than just doubting yourself and we have to unpick it further to be able to tackle it.  I would argue that Imposter Syndrome is a function of perfectionism and shame with these being two sides of the same coin.

Putting a spotlight on perfectionism makes sense – it’s a self destructive belief system in which we think that if we just do everything perfectly we can minimise difficult feelings of unworthiness and shame.  The cycle is addictive as perfect is an impossible standard to strive for.  And, when we get things wrong, or when people judge or blame us, we decide to strive even harder rather than acknowledging the impossible standards that have been set.

But, why shame?  Brené Brown defines shame as the intensely painful feeling that we are flawed and are therefore not worthy of love and belonging.  Maybe you’re surprised to see shame being discussed here.  It isn’t something that is often discussed but it is the driving emotion behind so many of our destructive behaviours in the workplace and, so, can’t be ignored.

I believe Imposter Syndrome is rife in the workplace, particularly for women, due to the masculine workplace culture.  If the workplace rewards ‘masculine’ traits of dominance, control, linear thinking and reason over ‘feminine’ ones such as group decision making, empathy, lateral thinking and intuition, then it’s no wonder women doubt their worthiness.

The lack of senior female roles models who ‘show up’ as themselves does not help.  In the past, and still today perhaps to a lesser extent, women felt that they have to take on masculine workplace characteristics to get ahead and therein lies the issue.  If women continue to bend to that idea that they have to be more ‘male’ to get ahead then that just undermines the value that women can, and should be encouraged to, bring to the workplace.

It’s easy to get caught in a vicious cycle – you don’t show up as yourself because what you bring isn’t valued, and because you’re not showing up as yourself you doubt yourself, and so it goes on.

Look out for our next newsletter in which we show you how to work through Imposter Syndrome.

———————————————————————————————

Our two day Daring Way™ workshop is now on the 16th and 17th March and is specifically for entrepreneurs. Through the course we will examine what gets in the way of us truly going for it as entrepreneurs, where we hold back and where we hide.  We will look at creativity, innovation, trust and empathy – and what might get in the way. Finally we will work through tools and techniques to support you in truly showing up as a business leader.  This setting also provides you with a support network for living brave in your whole lives beyond the two day workshop. Click here for more information.

AIR-retreat (6)

Untitled design (53)

I’ve been hiding in my cave for a couple of weeks. My newsletter hasn’t gone out, I have had to postpone clients and I think I’ve had worse sleep than when my children were 6 weeks old. Returning from holiday to a perfect storm of croup, chicken pox and a tube strike really has created havoc in my family and work life.

Throughout, I’ve had the sense at the back of my mind that this stuff matters. That I needed to write about it. And I’ve procrastinated – partly because of the mind-bending exhaustion. But also because I don’t have any answers for you; I can’t suggest how to sail through this stuff. I don’t want to silver line it for you.

And so I share here some of the misery, exhaustion and feelings of hopelessness – not to seek attention or sympathy – but to reassure you that you are not the only one struggling. This shit isn’t what we share on social media, or even necessarily tell our closest friends. But this shit is sometimes our truth, and our truth always matters.

Sure I tell those closest to me about the horrors of A&E in Ashford on a Friday night, what a pain in the ass it is to lose money from cancelling clients and the frustration of being housebound for five days. I don’t volunteer the information that sometimes I wonder what on earth I’m doing trying to run a business when I’ve got a two and a three year old. That I constantly worry that I’m not a good enough Mother / Wife / Business owner and friend. That there is a ‘who are you to think you can do all of this?’ gremlin’s voice resounding in my head.

Sometimes two weeks will pass in a heavy

One area of my life is always being neglected and typically my children and my business get more of me than my husband and my friends. And during a period of “crisis”, it was just the kids, quite frankly, that were getting anything. And I’m not sure they were getting anything too meaningful out of me. (Notice how I’ve forgotten to include myself in the balance equation too – spending time on myself is, as I’m sure most mothers identify with, right at the bottom of the list when things get tough.)

And you know what, that’s fine isn’t it? Well, not exactly fine, but acceptable. Ok, maybe. I’m reminded of an article about the pressures of having it all. It summarised, in one of my favourite pieces of journalism of late; ‘’ALL’ IS A WHOLE FUCKING HELL OF A LOT’.

And it is. We’re all trying to fit in a hell of a lot of stuff. And I’m so grateful for the varied life that I’m able to lead. Yet it’s no wonder we feel overwhelmed, tired and guilty. For all of the positive, constructive messaging that the media – and myself – sends out about how to make it work, please know that sometimes it feels bloody difficult for everyone. Sometimes you are going to feel absolutely, on your knees, can’t string a sentence together, exhausted. Sometimes you will wonder if it is worth the effort. Sometimes two weeks will pass in a heavy eyed, slightly numb, out of your own body trance and you’ll look back and wonder what on earth happened. Sometimes there’s not enough wine in the world.

Please know that you are not the only one who sometimes feels like this. You can have it all – ‘It’s exhausting and it’s a balancing act and it’s way too much for anyone to handle, ever. That’s also what’s so gratifying about it’.*

(Heather Havrilesky in NY magazine; http://nymag.com/thecut/2015/04/ask-polly-do-i-have-a-baby-or-have-a-career.html?mid=twitter_nymag)