Dreaded comparison and imposter syndrome and how they were triggered by a change.
Comparison and imposter syndrome feel like old friends of mine. I have done a lot of work on this over the years to manage them. When I say ‘work’ I mean I have talked about it with a coach, grown my awareness around what it is for me and the impact it can have and then I have taken steps to move on from it. I am in good company, because according to a review article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science, an estimated 70% of people experience impostor syndrome at some point.
In many areas of life, I can manage it sooner than I used to, so I was a little surprised when it reared its cheeky head again last month. I was mostly surprised because it showed up around a sport that I have played all my life. What I realise with hindsight that I was going through a transition in this sport, specifically moving into a higher level. I wish I had realised sooner because, boy of boy, did it go to work on me - I was overthinking, comparing myself to others, putting myself down and questioning my abilities, displaying old behaviours around trying to hide myself away – I was a right old stewpot of emotions and confusing behaviours.
I’m often asked whether as a coach I’m all sorted in life. I’ve been told, ‘You’re a coach, coach yourself through it’. My answer is, 'Absolutely not' but I do commit to self-development and work with a growth mindset so that I keep moving forward. For this reason, luckily, I had a few tricks up my sleeve that helped me to move forward:
None of this took the ‘thing’ away completely, but it enabled me to take some control back over myself and the situation.
I love the idea of using imposter syndrome as a competitive advantage. In this case, my competitive advantage was becoming clear what I want for myself and how I plan to get there. That put me in a completely different headspace and allowed me to work on my strengths of being a team player and tenacity.
So that's my personal journey with a recent transition. Whilst this was going on, I asked my 12-year-old what sort of support he’d likely hear from me if he was feeling nervous or unsure of himself. His response held the beauty of 12-year-old wisdom,
‘Well, I am not sure about what you’d say mum, but I what I said to myself when I was nervous about football because of the weather was, ‘Grow up’. I also told myself that people fought a war and lived in trenches in worse weather than this. That got me out of the door’. Then on he went with his day.
This was a clear reminder that when emotions are heighten, we can take a moment to put things in perspective. You’ve got to love the wisdom of children!