I have spent most of my life working hard to minimize myself. I have always lacked self confidence or a strong belief in myself, I just fake it really well. I suffer greatly from the classic imposter syndrome, knowing that at any moment, I will be exposed for who I really am, and escorted out the door, virtual or otherwise. I have worked hard to overcome this, but there is always a little seed, just waiting to sprout and prove that I don't belong. What has helped me the most, is something I read by Brene Brown. In her book, Rising Strong, she writes about the stories that we tell ourselves that are rooted in self-protection. "Storytelling helps us all impose order on chaos—including emotional chaos. When we're in pain, we create a narrative to help us make sense of it. This story doesn't have to be based on any real information." Recent example, I am in a new position at work. I had a meeting with a customer and my CEO was on the phone while I was in the room at the customer site. The meeting was a tough one, the customer was demanding and unwilling to compromise, there was some tense dialog and while it ultimately ended not a total disaster, I was concerned about the ultimate outcome as well as the relationship with the customer. The story I told myself was that the CEO would think I was terrible in this role, that the meeting had been a debacle, the customer would not grow as expected and he would need to rethink my role.
Later that evening, the CEO called to tell me that the meeting was one of the toughest he had been in, that I handled the meeting and the customer extremely well, he was so happy to have had me in the room with the customer, in this position and on the team. So, what I had actually done was to plan for the worst, just in case. Feeling vulnerable in the new position took me right back to my fear based lack of confidence and old ways of self-protection, you can't hurt me because I've already hurt myself.
This is something that I consistently work on with myself. As long as I can take a breath and focus on the fact that I am just telling myself a story, I can usually find my way to equilibrium and the strength to recognize that I am my own harshest critic. Does this happen to you too, are you a storyteller?