Are we in challenging times? Absolutely. Is there a need to reimagine our approach in unfamiliar situations where we’re meant to shine as leaders or influencers? 100%.
Imposter syndrome has woven its way into many aspects of our lives. We find ourselves navigating uncharted waters, and it’s an opportunity to evaluate our past patterns, reframe our ingrained habits, and replace them with clear intentions and ambitious objectives to create our clear vision. This process will redefine our roles in our careers and in our thought leadership.
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Our prior approaches may have brought us to this point, but they won’t propel us forward.
We are ingrained with subconscious, reflexive reactions to perceived threats, whether physical or emotional. Imposter syndrome often plunges us into such a mental state, but it doesn’t need to define us.
Consider this scenario: You’ve had a long day at work, and it’s 9 pm. You’re heading out for a quick meal. As you approach your car, you spot a person lying across the hood, bleeding but conscious. Your initial reaction speaks volumes about your habitual response to unfamiliar situations. Do you:
- Immediately engage with the person, driven by a desire to help and be of value?
- Begin searching for a potential culprit, aiming to ensure safety by investigating?
- Dial 911 or seek assistance from others, preferring to avoid danger by bringing more resources to the scene?
This happened to me in February 2019. It was a bitterly cold night in Chicago, and I was preoccupied as I drove to meet a client downtown. I parked at Soho House Chicago, opened my car door while reaching for my bag on the passenger seat, and a cyclist collided with my door, flipping over it and hitting the ground. It’s called “getting doored.”
My immediate response was to rush to his aid, asking, “Are you okay?” Clearly, he wasn’t. He was bleeding, had a split lip, and had lost part of his front tooth.
I was devastated and questioned how I could have been so absent-minded, so preoccupied with my own thoughts that I had harmed another person. I needed extensive coaching to process this with my coach. Remarkably, the man I hit was incredibly kind and humble; he couldn’t have been more understanding. He was on his way to his second job, which was dog walking. Dog walking people! Could I have hit a nicer guy?!
If you are someone who struggles with imposter syndrome, your body provides five warning signs when you’re in a stress response, about to fall into your habitual reactions.
To identify your imposter syndrome warning signs, observe your body:
- Are your arm muscles tense, or are your fists clenched? That’s the fight response.
- Do you feel compelled to escape or avoid the situation? That’s the flight response.
- Are you holding your breath or experiencing a frozen sensation in your body?
- Does your head feel light or foggy?
- Or do you find yourself prioritizing others over yourself? That’s the fawn response.
The good news is that you can break free from these default stress responses with a few simple actions:
- For the fight response, release the pent-up energy from your body to dissipate the stress.
- In the flight response, adopt a wide, stable stance, grounding your feet firmly.
- If you’re frozen, wiggle and jump to regain a sense of presence in your body.
- To combat the faint response, open your eyes widely.
- If you’re feeling fuzzy, make eye contact and smile to connect with someone.
- And for the fawn response, literally embrace and squeeze yourself, shifting from overthinking to body awareness.
The silver lining is that we have a choice. Despite the ever-changing landscape, even during uncertain times, or new situations, we can anchor ourselves in our desired feelings and actions. It’s a moment to become fully aware of our habitual responses and consciously shape our future rather than being constrained by past patterns.
You’ve had career and business success.
Are you showing up as you? Or hiding behind someone else’s version of who you think you should be?
Download this free, life-changing chapter from Find Your Clear Vision to learn how to create self-awareness, think outside the box, and confidently handle the unknown. It’s time to stop breaking down and start breaking through.