The Imposter Syndrome: just another social phobia we invent for ourselves

According to Wikipedia, “The Impostor Syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize  their accomplishments.  Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.  The Impostor Syndrome, in which competent people find it impossible to believe in their own competence, can be viewed as complementary to the Dunning–Kruger effect, in which incompetent people find it impossible to believe in their own incompetence.”  Interesting.

A friend and I were talking about what social phobias show up for us when we’re under stress.  Years ago I went through the imposter stage, and realize in retrospect just how much time and energy gets wasted when I get wrapped up in my own neuroses.  I used to be like that when I did conferences, and I’ve done many every year for 30 years.  I’d get where even when I know absolutely everyone who’s gonna be at the conference and presenting at the conference, I get spooked.  Like someone is gonna make me prove I am who I am and that I know anything.  LOL It’s just my mind trying to drive me batty, but it forgets that I know I’m in charge.

I even once drove all the way to St. Pete to spend two days visiting the stores in 1997 and once I got there, I could not make myself get out of the van and go into the first store. And the store owners were all people I’d spoken to on the phone monthly for 2-3 years before that and I wanted to meet them! I couldn’t even make myself check into a motel to try again the next morning. I had to drive right back.

Stoopid huh?  Not really, just letting my little mind get the best of me.  It comes and goes. Of course it only comes when there’s REAL danger I might have to actually show up and breathe somewhere other than my own little bubble 🙂  I am always stoked when I can make myself actually show up somewhere.  Sometimes I can drive half way to church and then drive right back because I couldn’t make myself do it.

I’m not really worried that I might disappoint other people by being well, just me and not whoever they think Andrea de Michaelis really is. But I kinda know that I’m the one that projects this unattainable image onto a screen that no one else is watching but me and I get too wrapped up in my own story.

At least I realize that.  I’m never surprised how many popular and very public authors and speakers are like this as well. My advice is always, prepare, pray ahead of time, then just show up and breathe.  If I am who I say I am, that is all it takes.

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