Self-Sabotage: Understanding Imposter Syndrome

I have to, but I can’t. Who am I to do this?

Have you ever been excited and inspired to do something, only to get quickly discouraged and the excitement just… fizzles out?
Maybe you get excited when you think about going back to school for another degree. Maybe it’s about applying for a promotion that starts to make you feel energized. Maybe it’s joining in a Ministry opportunity, or a personal goal like getting healthier and fitting back into those old jeans that were once comfy.

Have you ever looked ahead at a goal like one of these and just felt yourself longing for it until your thoughts drown out the hope with self-doubt and criticism?

This is actually a very common struggle. When we talk about self-sabotage, we are referring to an internal conflict that keeps us from meeting our goals. We may have big dreams of things that we want to accomplish, then that little voice in our head criticizes us for having such big dreams.

Who are you to think you can do that? What makes you think you can accomplish that?

That little voice begins to point out every flaw we have that might stand in the way. When I think of this kind of self-sabotage, I think it’s Moses and his encounter with imposter syndrome. As he stood in front of God in the form of a burning bush, Moses began to give God… The creator of all things… A list of reasons why he, Moses, wasn’t qualified to follow God’s instructions.

1. Who am I that I should go?
“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” -Exodus 3:11
When you say to yourself, “I’m a nobody. I don’t deserve this opportunity,” You’re treating yourself like an imposter. You’re treating yourself like you’re not really a child of the King who created you with a purpose. If you are indeed seeking God first (Matt 6:33), and He leads you to something… trust Him that He’s got you covered. He has given you exactly WHAT you need and will continue to give you what you need exactly WHEN you need it. Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Not only are such self-defeating thoughts going against who God created us to be, they are lacking faith in our Heavenly Father who has promised to provide. If He calls you to it – He will provide for whatever you lack.

2. ‎ Who do I say sent me?
“Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” -Exodus 3:13
Do you think you have to have all the answers before you can accomplish something? Do you keep researching and planning and researching and planning and planning and researching and… Just stop. Seriously… just stop. Again, if you are seeking God first, and doing what He has instructed you to do, He will give you the answers you need when you need them. Not only that, but if you don’t have all the answers, it’s perfectly acceptable to give yourself permission to say, “You know… I don’t really know.” We’re not ever going to have ALL the answers. Only God does.

3. ‎ They’re not going to believe me or listen to my voice.
“Then Moses answered and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’ ” -Exodus 4:1
When I was a teenager, I had a relative tell me that my voice just blended into the background and people forgot I was talking. Ouch. That really stuck with me (clearly). Again though, when we dwell on telling ourselves this, that people are not going to listen to us or believe we have the credentials we say we have, we are defeating ourselves before we even start. Again, we are stifling our faith. If God has led us there, He will prepare the way. For those who don’t believe or listen… that’s on them. You are only responsible for your own part of the story.

4. ‎ I am slow of speech and of tongue.
“Then Moses said to the LORD, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” -Exodus 4:10
Do you focus on your flaws? It’s so incredibly easy to do. The thing is – you are going to be much more aware of any perceived flaws than other people will be. In grade school, I went to speech therapy for a while. There were some sounds that were difficult for me to say correctly. There are times I still hear it and it bothers me. I once mentioned this to my husband, who looked at me strangely. He’d not even noticed it. I’ve known him since childhood. We are ALWAYS going to be our own worst critics.

5. Send anyone but me. ‎“But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.” -Exodus 4:13
When we evaluate ourselves and find ourselves lacking, it can be tempting to hunker down, cover our heads, and say, “Let someone else do it, God. I’m not enough.”

Isn’t that what ALL of these excuses are saying? “I’m not enough.”

What does that sound like to you? Isn’t that exactly what we have been talking about here at Every Day Incredible? Those negative, destructive words that find a stronghold deep in our minds and make themselves at home in our wounded hearts?

Isn’t that how our enemy works? Evil is sneaky, ladies.

Acknowledge those thoughts. Are they consistent with who God is, and who you are to God?

No. I can say with confidence that they are not.

I want to challenge you to do something. Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Make a list of all of the excuses that echo in your mind when you think of that goal you have always had a dream of reaching. Every excuse that comes. When you have your list, out from each excuse, I want you to challenge it with what God says is true. What is true about who He is, and who You are to Him. If you have trouble with this, come to the Every Day Ladies Facebook group and we can work on this together.

With each excuse, I encourage you to say, out loud, that you choose to no longer give into believing that excuse because the truth is – then finish that thought with the truth you have written.

 

I look forward to hearing from you in the group. Don’t forget to sign up for the Every Day Incredible Mailing list at EveryDayIncredible.net for freebies, updates, and offers. Check back next week for more thoughts on finding Christ-Centered life balance. I also want to remind you that there are opportunities every day, so make every day incredible!

The Monster in the (Emotional) Closet

 A few weeks ago, we discussed the dangers of “stuffing,” or putting off dealing with emotional events because they seem like they would be too difficult to manage. The problem is that putting off dealing with difficult emotions doesn’t make them go away. The pent-up emotions keep building until you spring an emotional leak. We’ve all had them. They often come out in the forms of anxiety, depression, anger, health problems, or some combination. Simple point – it’s not healthy to let your emotions sit and simmer. We have to deal with them to find a healthy balance.
When we talk about “dealing with issues,” we’re generally talking about unpacking them so you can explore them, name them, and lay the back down so they’re not controlling you.
If you imagine being a kid and looking over to the closet at night because you thought you saw something move…. in the closet, you see something that seems to be peeking around the door, and it’s furry…. so your brain fills in the gaps…. and in your mind, it’s a huge, furry, mean monster with big teeth capable of eating you in just a few bites…. you tell yourself you should go check it out, but then convince yourself it’s just too big and you wouldn’t survive…. but then eventually, either you work up courage, or a parent comes in the room, opens the closet door, and turns on the light.
Then, you see it’s a pair of fuzzy house slippers. and you realize you can totally handle that.
If we stuff emotions in long enough, they grow and grow into these big monsters we tell ourselves we wouldn’t be able to handle if we were to release them from the closet.  In reality, what looked like it could devour us in childhood… maybe as an adult it looks a little different and we can handle it better than we’ve given ourselves credit for.
It’s time for a spring cleaning of your emotional closet.
1. Come up with a plan… what are you going to do with the items in the closet (how are you going to cope with the difficult emotions? What healthy coping skills can you use if you begin to feel overwhelmed?  How can you allow yourself to enjoy the positive in what you find buried under the difficult, etc.?)? As you get started, be sure to pray for wisdom and guidance.
2. Open the closet door and turn on the light. Allow yourself to acknowledge what is IN your emotional closet.
3. Take the items out of the closet, one at a time, taking time to name each item and allow yourself to experience it. Take coping breaks as needed. Use a journal to write about what you find, or talk to a trusted friend, spouse, therapist, or mentor.
4. When you come across something that is overwhelming, stick to your coping plan and recognize that you have the ability to get through it… then celebrate the progress when you do. If you are feeling overwhelmed (or even if you’re not), be sure to find a mental health professional to help you through the process.
5. Keep moving forward, one piece at a time, until you have worked through the piles.
As you do some spring cleaning, you’ll realize you are now looking at all those things piled in that emotional closet from an adult perspective, rather than the child perspective you had when you pushed them all in there. Even emotional baggage that was shoved in the closet as an adult will be a different experience when you look at it after taking a break from it. Give yourself some grace and remember that you can’t expect your past self to have dealt with those emotional piles from your present perspective.
You have the strengths it takes to tackle those monsters in the closet. Once you flip on the light, you may be pleasantly surprised to find a pair of fuzzy house slippers.
Come on over to the Every Day Incredible Ladies facebook group and talk to us about what strengths you think can help you and the other ladies like you as you work on cleaning out your emotional closets!

What Stars and Pirates can Teach Us

20160122_143541_20160131155515202     Recently, I surprised my son by putting up glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling of his room. As we discussed our observations about the stars, I would ask questions such as, “what do you notice about which stars are brighter?” I explained to him that the stars absorb the light so they can shine in the darkness. I quickly realized that the stars are an excellent analogy.

     When we are doing well, life is going along smoothly, and we have time on our hands, that is when focusing on caring for our emotional health is very, very important things to do. If we wait until times are dark, and we’re feeling overwhelmed with depression, grief, anxiety, or anger, we won’t have anything left in our emotional coping storehouse if we haven’t been working to build our supply. It is when we are doing well, that we need to be sure to address the painful or dark emotional experiences. It’s when we are doing well that it’s important to bring those dark emotions to the surface. We need to acknowledge them, name them, cope with them, and send them on their way.

     If we don’t address them, painful, unpleasant emotions have a way of simmering under the surface until the world around us gets dark, and then become terrifyingly suffocating as we sink into the darkness.

     Imagine, for a moment, being in a large body of water. In the daytime, you can see everything around you because the water is clear and everything is illuminated. When it gets dark or the water becomes murky, however, and you can’t see what may be lurking under the surface, it could be quite terrifying. It can be very tempting to make an effort to avoid  unpleasant emotions by “bottling them up,” or “stuffing them in.” Regardless of the phrase you use, the concept is the same. We basically drop those emotions under the surface, out of sight, only to haunt us later when our world once again becomes dark and we’re treading water.

     To give another analogy using my lovable four-year-old, after discussing the stars, we discussed a little stuffed Ty Monstaz creature he has had for a very long time. Patch, the Pirate Monstaz, had
been on a shelf and hadn’t been touched for quite some time. My little guy had not heard Patch’s voice for probably a year or more. What he remembered about the plushie pirate, though, was that when he was smaller, it scared him.

     Even though he was older, and knew the toy probably wouldn’t scare him like it once did, he was still acting like he was scared of it. Granted, it may have simply been an attempt to elicit a sympathetic reaction from mom, but that’s okay too. So, we had a discussion about how things may change as we get older, and it’s important to listen to it again, to see if it was maybe not as scary as he once thought it was. Eventually he agreed, and we did. 

     Once he heard it again, he decided that it wasn’t so scary after all, and has actually been fascinated by it once we googled it to try to figure out the gibberish he spoke before saying, “walk the
plank, mate!” (Hint: to create the gibberish, it seems the company flipped audio recordings backward…. fun!) 

It’s the same way with our emotions. What may seem scary to us at one time may actually not be as bad as we think once we lay it out to examine and deal with it. It’s interesting to note that avoiding anxiety-producing triggers actually serves to strengthen the anxiety rather than helping us cope with it. The more we put off doing something that scares us, the more we actually feel scared of whatever it is we are avoiding. Have you found that to be true? 

     Going back to the glow-in-the-dark stars, they are also a significant analogy of our spiritual health. We need to be soaking in the light when we can so when times are dark, we can still shine. As my son and I looked at the ceiling, it was obvious that the brightest star was the one that had been closest to the light source. It stood apart from all the other stars because it soaked up as much light as possible. Staying close to the light gave it the unique ability to shine brightly into the darkness and make a difference by bringing a smile to the face of a sweet little boy- and his momma.

Matthew 5:13-16

“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a n hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let
your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

 

 

Beating Anxiety: Freedom from Fear and Negativity

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I’ll never forget that Monday morning.  June 17th, 2013.  It was the only morning I had ever experienced quite like it…

Panic.  A complete and total state of fear had somehow overtaken my body during sleep.  That morning, as I rose to consciousness, I was nauseous, sweating, breathing heavier than usual, and somehow hyper-sensitive to the fact that if my feet touched the floor only bad things would happen.

This, boys and girls, was my first go-round with anxiety.

Unfortunately, this first time experiencing the full effect of anxiety’s pleasure-less curb stomp was just that – the first time.

The daily struggle was so intense that for the following 8 months my life was completely shaken.

The beauty of that anxious week-starter was that it required me to reach a low I had never experienced.  From that low, I was able to begin crafting the life that I wanted to experience more than anything:  a closer walk with God, an abundantly loving relationship with my family, freedom from fear, freedom from debt, and enjoying the career I had been blessed with instead of approaching it with crippling fear and the paralyzing concern of making a mistake.

Thankfully, all of the resources I needed to rid my life of anxiety made their way to me in the coming months.

Since then, over 18 months later, I’ve become incredibly passionate about this topic of anxiety.  Although my experience with anxiety was a difficult and unwelcome one, in retrospect I am very thankful for it.  You see, without being forced to confront my anxiety I wouldn’t have discovered books and audio books on goals, affirmations, visualization, achievement, and a plethora (one of my favorite words) of other tools and resources that helped me lay a beat-down on fear.

Now, as I tell myself each morning, “I exist free of fear.”

And if you are reading this – I want the same thing for you.  My goal for Every Day Incredible is that anybody struggling with fear and anxiety or challenges in their life would have access to resources and encouragement that will enable them to punch fear in the mouth, make a decision to craft the life they have been dreaming of, raise both fists in the air, and scream in an obnoxiously loud fashion, “I REFUSE TO BE DENIED!!!”

In summary, 4 ways to beat anxiety are:

  1. Be positive…

I decided early on in my dealings with anxiety that nothing good would come for me as a result of being negative.  I mean, one of the fundamental things we picked up in math was that a negative X a positive = a negative, right?  I remind myself of this regularly these days when the mental weeds pop up in my mind.  If those same mental weeds are popping up in your mind, try this:  Read Jeremiah 29:11, claim positivity (yes, out loud), and begin thinking of not only the exciting things that tomorrow holds – really give yourself a chance to dwell upon and be excited about the positive things that your life holds for you right now that you may be overlooking.

2.  Believe you are, you can, and you will…

As I’ve listened to Brian Tracy say in “The Psychology of Achievement” many times, “nobody is better than you, nobody is smarter than you… you have more potential in you than you could ever tap into in 100 lifetimes.”  Make a decision right now, make it a do-or-die decision, put it on paper right now (yes, I’m serious), and leave the fear that has plagued you for far too long securely in the rear view.

     3.  Take control…

I came to a pretty simple conclusion a few months into my struggle:  “It’s my life – I’m responsible.  It’s my attitude – nobody else can change it.”  Although, initially, there were days that this affirmation didn’t have the result I was hoping for, eventually it made all the difference in my anxiety-fractured world.  When I accepted that this struggle was mine and mine alone to deal with, I got confrontational with it.  I talked to it (yes, out loud).  Sometimes in the house (not sure if anybody heard me?), sometimes in the car (yes, I’m pretty sure passers-by saw me and wondered…), but always reminding whatever fear occupied me that the party was over.  I made a decision that I was once again taking over the role of party host, and that this body and this earthly existence were given to me by my God Almighty along with a very detailed instruction manual that reminds me to “FEAR NOT” many, many times within its pages.

     4.  Have freedom… from fear, negativity, and those who inspire fear and negativity in your life. 

I’ll focus on the last part of that bullet point.  I have formulated a humble but accurate opinion that negativity is as or more contagious than any illness or disease we will ever experience as human beings.  As a part of my recovery, I engineered a Negativity Radar (c) (TM) (Patent Pending).  It’s awesome.  It’s a box-like structure that is Stanley Thermos green, remotely wired to my psyche and emotions, and it beeps within my innards when my spidey-senses ((c) 2015 Peter Parker Enterprises, LLC) start to tingle and advises that I’m within the realm of negativity’s dark presence.  Often times, this “presence” comes in the form of other people.  And often it takes the shape of them verbalizing their life’s minor inconveniences or poor decision results that manifest themselves as problems in their lives.  Sometimes it’s opinions – you know, “ahh, the little guy can’t get ahead”, “you’ll never be debt free”, “you’ll always have a car payment”, “you can’t start a business in this economy”, “insert misc. negatively-spouted garbage that’s a waste of gray matter here”, or whatever else they can pour on you like Nickelodeon slime to suffocate your life’s awesomeness.  Do yourself a favor and create some space when you notice your radar getting active.  When your radar is jamming some old-school funk, like blasting “Ladies Night” by Kool and the Gang – don’t create space.  Run away.  Far away, as in Luke Skywalker leaving Tatooine, far away.  Get out of town as it relates to those people.  “But dude, some of those people are family!”  I concur.  “Hey man, they might be offended.”  Yes, they’ll be offended and you’ll be in the break room at work doing the robot as you wait for the Keurig to finish your donut shop blend.  I’ve done it (the separation and the robot).  It’s hard (the separation more than the robot – but both have their complexities).  It feels weird at first.  You’ll get used to it. Some will take it personally. For sure.  Yes, in all cases… but choose the robot.

As you work to conquer anxiety and live life free of fear, remember that life gives us opportunities every day, so make every day incredible!

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Affiliate Disclosure: I am grateful to be of service and bring you content free of charge. In order to do this, please note that when you click links and purchase items from this page, in most (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission. This does not change the price you would pay, but does help support this ministry. Thank you for your support! Additionally, please note that the information provided at Every Day Incredible is not intended to replace individual treatment with a professional mental health provider. If you are not currently working with a mental health provider, you are encouraged to find one that is a good fit for you.