I think it would be fair to say that everyone of us is experiencing, has experienced, or will experience what is known as ‘imposter syndrome’. What is it? There are a few definitions, the one I will use suggests that it is, the psychological experience of feeling like a fake or a phony despite any genuine success that you have achieved. My goal this week is, if you ever feel this, to help you understand that you are not an imposter, you are just a human.

So, what does that mean? It means you and I are not perfect. In fact, we are far from perfect, and that is okay. It means we make mistakes, we make poor choices, we miss deadlines, we say things we regret, we procrastinate, we feel fear, we mis-interpret what people say, we react, we have regrets, we talk ourselves out of things we know we should do, and we do things we know we shouldn’t do. If you relate to all or any of those, do you know what it means? It means you are human, and you are alive, so celebrate.

The problem is that we rarely celebrate these things. Instead, we regret and then beat ourselves up over them, relentlessly. How do I know? I am the king of self-abuse. I am a Christian and at times think, do, and say things that are at odds with the values that come with that title. I am a speaker and author talking about things that occasionally I don’t even follow myself. I am a man trying to be the best I can, and often slip up. Intermittently, I find myself doing things I know I shouldn’t be doing, yet do them anyway, only to feel immediate regret. I then start the self-abuse cycle. What is wrong with me? Why am I such an imposter?

The problem with self-abuse is that it will keep reinforcing to you that you are an imposter and not good enough. Therefore, you are more likely to fortify the beliefs and repeat the behaviours you continually beat yourself up over. As I was recently going through a period of Andrew-bashing and imposter thinking, I stopped myself. I am better at that these days. The first thing I did was pray to God for forgiveness. The second thing I did was just close my eyes and focus on the great things I have and do every day. The third thing I did was remind myself that it’s okay to be imperfect because I am human. 

My goal is not to fail, but I do at times, and it’s okay. My intention is not to hurt another person, but I know at times I will. For that, I am sorry. There are times when I will not do what I know I should and do what I know I shouldn’t, and that’s just because I am human. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting you go out making poor choices, upsetting people, or giving up on things and justify it by saying, I am just human. What I am saying, as you are living your life and aspiring to be the best you can be, give yourself a break when things don’t go as you would have planned. Life can be messy while you are human and alive.

What are you berating yourself over right now? Is it not doing the exercise you should be? Is it not eating enough of the foods you should eat, or eating foods you know you should eat less of? Is it not spending enough time with important people? Is it something you said that you wished you hadn’t? Is it not doing what you feel you should do? You know what it is for you? In which area do you feel like you are an imposter? As a parent? As a leader? As an influencer? As a student? As an author, speaker, or coach? My question is this, how is that working for you so far? Is feeling less than helping you be more? I am guessing not, so now is the time to give yourself a break.

My podcast this week with Ann Swanson, is called Powerful pauses. It is all about taking the opportunity during the day to pause and be mindful of the things in your life to be grateful for, and the beautiful things all around you. The moment you pause, reflect, and think about what is great in your world, you will see that the negatives in your life fade away in comparison to the positives. When you shift your perspective in those moments, you will see that you are a perfectly flawed human doing the best you can. When that happens, some self-compassion will appear, more optimism will rise in you, and you will automatically start making better choices. Be kind to yourself and remember, you are not an imposter, you are a human.