Overcoming Imposter Syndrome in Motherhood
The uncharted territory of your unique motherhood experience can sometimes leave you feeling lost, disconnected, unsure, and scared AF.
Anytime we enter a new phase of life, undergo change, embark on a new adventure, or transform our identity, we typically experience a combination of excitement, fear, and self doubt. It is very common to feel connected to the journey as a path we must continue, as well as feel disconnected from ourselves and what is familiar. We may doubt our abilities, desires, and relationships, and buzz with anxiety that we will eventually be exposed as the "fraud" we fear we are.
Imposter syndrome is the persistent fear that you will be exposed as a fraud and that your current level of skill or knowledge does not measure up to the task at hand. In other words, you have no clue what you are doing and you are effing terrified someone might notice.
You may be experiencing imposter syndrome if the following list of symptoms resonates with you:
1. Difficulty accepting praise
2. Discount your success
3. Do too much (over-functioning)
4. You feel a compulsion to be the best
5. People describe you as a perfectionist
6. Analysis Paralysis
7. Avoid showing confidence
9. Focus on your faults
10. You believe you are not good enough
Mamas, I get it! It took me a long to time figure out what was happening within me. As a new mom, I thought something was deeply wrong with me. I felt completely incompetent to take care of a child and I felt like I was falling apart inside. I was beyond terrified someone would notice my lack of being a natural mother, and worse, would call me out on it and expose the unbearable secret that I didn't always like being a mom and that I had no clue what I was doing.
My fear was supported by my earlier experiences. I grew up with the belief that all mothers LOVED every moment of motherhood, they felt instantly connected with their children, that their connection never wavered, and nothing else should matter but raising your children. As you can see, I didn't set myself up for much success (it's okay, I have learned to have some self compassion for this).
For the first 2 years of motherhood, my ego paid me a daily visit to remind me of how I didn't measure up to the ideal I had previously constructed. I felt anxious around other moms for fear they would see the raw truth that "I wasn't one of them." It wasn't until I heard the term "imposter syndrome" in a psychotherapy supervision group that I finally understood what I was experiencing. It felt so good to have a name to what I felt was happening internally. I felt relief in the best way possible because I knew then it was something I could fix. Almost immediately, however, I felt this hot anger that no one ever told me that this could be my experience as a new mom. No one shared their less than perfect experience of motherhood. I was never exposed to the less than pretty parts of being a mama; or, if I was, I chose to ignore it.
Becoming a mother is as much of a spiritual journey as it is a physical one. Not only do you give birth or adopt and physically acquire a child (aka. your exposed nerve walking outside your body), but you also get reacquainted with all the parts of you that you need to resolve, heal, and accept.
Since this season of our life requires internal inventory and transformation, we have the perfect opportunity to heal these wounded aspects of ourselves that show up as anxiety, self doubt, and lack of confidence.
To become a warrior in the struggle of imposter syndrome, we can follow these strategies below. I have included a PDF document in this blog post that will take you through this process on a deep, transformative level.
1. Build Awareness
Look inside to discover all the juicy secrets of your soul and the mind's limiting beliefs.
2. Challenge beliefs
Once you know what your limiting beliefs are, you need to challenge them; sometimes gently, sometimes forcefully.
3. Shift your feelings
Understand and declare how you want to feel. Map out the way to get there and live out your path every day.
4. Notice and celebrate your successes
When we bring the powerful energy of celebration into our daily life, we attract more of the positive feelings and situations that brought us the joy in the first place.
5. Balance doing and being
So much of life is about doing/action/motion. While we need to enact action consistently to shift us into greater being and self awareness, we also need to rest and receive. We need to receive love and energy at the same or greater amount as we give out. Mamas are notorious for giving more than they receive so we end up depleted. Instead, create more space in your life to receive. Receive through your heart, not your mind. If you are analyzing, you are not being. If you are accepting, you are being.
6. Limit comparisons
NO MORE TOXIC COMPARISONS! Seriously, the greatest robber of joy is comparisons. Instead, honor YOU and your path. It will NOT look like anyone else and that is okay. It is hard to ever feel truly home with yourself if you are comparing your experience to another. Imposter syndrome thrives off of comparisons, they are its life source. Cut off imposter syndrome's life source and it cannot survive.
Mama, your journey is YOUR journey. Lean into the joy of your unique experience by casting out old beliefs of not being enough and move forward with confidence and self-love.