“I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’“ ~ Maya Angelou
Do people tell you what a good person you are? Do you ever feel like a fraud when they do?
I’ll give an example from my life. I love teaching yoga. Yoga classes, philosophy, and community members saved me when I was dying inside—and I am honored by the opportunity to share what I learned and experienced with others.
But sometimes, I fear my students think that now, with my blonde ponytail and purple instructor yoga bag, I have it all together. That somehow I have reached enlightenment.
Which is sadly bullsh*t.
I still feel like a bad person inside. Like I’m only one “namaste” away from rising from the deep like a kraken.
The person who used to sneer at other people’s successes and spend cocktail-filled lunches gossiping about her closest friends is still in there; I keep waiting for her to escape and show everyone what a fraud I am.
There is a legitimate term for this. It is called “Imposter Syndrome,” which is defined as feeling unworthy of what we have achieved. (There is even a test you can take online to determine how much you suffer from this syndrome.)
Here are my four best ways to combat Imposter Syndrome.
1. Check your ego.
You are likely blowing up your importance. Your ego is taking over. For example, as a yoga teacher, I am just there to facilitate the class. The students and the universe are doing the real work.
Find a mantra that speaks to you and a quiet place to meditate. When feeling self-doubt, I listen to the mantra song “Om Nama Shivaya” by Deva Premal. The typical interpretation of this mantra is “bow to your true self.” If you know and honor yourself, you will feel more secure within the world. When I sing along to this song, I am instantly calmed.
3. Explore The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz
The book provides four simple guidelines from the Mexican Toltec tradition. Variations of the philosophy summarized in The Four Agreements show up in a variety of wisdom systems, but the simple way they are described and stated here can be helpful to those battling specifically with Imposter Syndrome. They are as follows:
>> Be impeccable with your word: If you watch what you say, and maybe say nothing at all, you are less likely to say something hurtful or unkind.
>> Don’t take anything personally: Most of the time it isn’t about you at all.
>> Don’t make assumptions: Don’t assume you understand what is happening or are important to whatever enterprise you are involved in.
>> Always do your best: As long as you are doing your best, that is enough.
4. Get thee to a yoga class.
Unless you are a psychopath, your fraudulent feelings are symptoms that your “monkey mind” is taking over. The best way to regain control of your mind is to take (not teach) a yoga class. Letting someone guide you through yoga postures and breathing practices allows the body to ground and the mind to access your spirit.
So the next time the kraken is rising and you feel like a fraud, consider how the practices above may be of benefit.
“How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but —mainly—to ourselves.” ~ Julian Barns
Author: Donna Yates Kling
Image: Christal Yuen/Unsplash
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Supervising Editor 1: Catherine Monkman