Feeling Like a Phony. The Imposter Phenomenon

Have you ever felt you wouldn’t be able to figure things out, that you weren’t responsible for your successes, terrified of making mistakes because people would “find out” you really didn’t know what you were doing. Plus, working hard to make sure you looked like you knew what was going on, even while feeling not good enough? Maybe even a little frozen because it feels so fake to claim your knowledge, space, and hope?

This is called the imposter phenomenon and afflicts a number of us at some point in our lives. Especially, those of us who have been given subtle messages about our being, such as, we can do it all without much effort or in contrast that we are not as smart as we really are (Clance & Imes, 1978). According to Bernard, Dollinger, & Ramaniah (2002) “The IP has been defined as an internal experience of intellectual phoniness in high achievers who are unable to internalize their successful experiences” pg 321.

As a result we find ourselves in situations where we feel we are not responsible for our success. Yet our age, experience, education, etc may be telling the world something different. There is incongruence between what the world sees and expects of us and what we believe about ourselves. This creates a sense of falseness or feeling like a fake on the inside.

When we find ourselves in these situations many of us turn up the charm, work harder, and end up in the double bind of proving and dis-proving our worth and brilliance at the same time. This proving/disproving becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy we struggle hard to break free from (Clance & Imes, 1978). Instead of continuing the cycle, there are ways to move beyond our sense of “falseness” and own our competence.

According to Bernard, Dollinger, & Ramaniah (2002), there are two personality traits that interact with feeling like an imposter. One is what’s known as the big five personality trait of neuroticism and the other also a big five trait, conscientiousness.

People with high neuroticism are defined in personality psychology as folks who are more moody and prone to judge situations as negative. They tend to have higher experiences of emotions like sadness, envy, fear, guilt, etc.

This trait combined with feelings of being an imposter are similar to well known dispositions of depression, like attributing success to external sources (i.e. I passed the test because it was easy) but attributing failures to the individual self (i.e. I failed the test because I am stupid).

To work with this trait and increase competence, one must begin to shift personal perception of self and the world. This is not easy. However, by seeking out experiences and opportunities for accurate praise and recognition the person can begin to recognize the truth of their competence. Along the way, it is important to deal with negative emotional states such as depression or anxiety to reap the larger benefits of embracing your true intelligence and brilliance.

Conscientious people tend to be organized, efficient, dependable, and aim for achievement. They like to plan things and have a lot of self-discipline. People scoring low on this scale tend to like spontaneity and sometimes are labeled as unreliable. When it comes to feeling like an imposter, there is negative a correlation with a lack of self-discipline seen in people who score lower on the conscientiousness scale and higher on rates of feeling like a phony. Bernard, Dollinger, and Ramaniah (2002) give a couple of possible reasons. First, it might be that those who lack self-discipline were told and/or expected to achieve with little effort (Clance & Imes, 1978). It might be the case that not only were these people told they were intelligent, bright, talented, and could do or become anything they choose, they also might have experienced ease in achievement especially in earlier life situations (i.e. high school).

Due to these experiences, this group may not have created behavioral patterns that offered structure or opportunities for the positive feelings associated with working hard to reach a goal. As a result, they do not gain a sense of mastery over their personal situations and tend to rely more on environmental factors for success. Others may be working from the notion that effort could equal failure so why try too hard. Which becomes the mantra driving lack of engagement, procrastination, and offering a self fulfilling cycle of self doubt and underachievement.

This leads many people to shrivel and remain small – to risk embarrassment, vulnerability, or judgment of “not knowing enough” is too much, way too costly. So we stay small and stay contained in our “normal” cultural living patterns. We stay complacent rather than push for change in situations we don’t like, and we settle. Then we feel fake, unsuccessful, and limited in our potential. Coupled with the internal feeling like there should be something more, we feel stunted and less than. To break this pattern we need to set goals and follow through, even when it’s hard.


If the concepts above sound like you:

  • Are you negating the reality of others’ opinions telling yourself “if they only knew …” and diminishing their ability to accurately judge the situation?
  • Telling yourself I am not responsible for great ideas,  only for great failures.
  • Or are you stuck in the conundrum between I can and should achieve it all with little to no effort and to show effort would be weak?
  • Stuck believing that if I work hard and fail the cards all come tumbling down and I’ll be found out, so it’s better to self sabotage and let people think “if I would only try I’d be off the charts” rather than try and fail?

Can you:

  • Go out into the world today and actively look for ways you can find honest feedback about your behaviors?
  • Take the challenge of absorbing the compliments of others as truth AND believe them?
  • Recognize that you did contribute to the success of a project or goal attainment, and honestly evaluate where you contributed to the failure without taking all the blame. Allow others to own their portion of the failure, too (and you know how to do this if you’ve been letting others own the success)
  • Commit to working hard for the sense of personal accomplishment regardless of the outcome?
  • Come to believe that showing effort and trying are not signs of being weak or stupid.

Let us know if you are up for the challenge of owning your competence and success in the comments below.

References:

Bernard, N. S., Dollinger, S. J., and Ramaniah, N. V. (2002). Applying the big five personality factors to the imposter phenomenon. Journal of personality assessment, 78(2), 321-333.

Clance, P.R. & Imes, S. (1978). The imposter phenomenon in high achieving women: Dynamics and therapeutic intervention. Psychotherapy Theory, Research, and Practice, 15(3), 1-8.

Group Ex Etiquette: Becoming part of the group exercise craze

 When I used to teach multiple classes a week – for a time up to 14 each week! – I always had clients coming up to me stating they would like to be in a class but didn’t know what / how to enter and fit in.

Here’s the basics. First, come a little early and let the instructor know you are new. This way they can help you know what equipment you need to have for the day, how to use it, and ask about any injuries or modification you may need.

Second, find a spot where you have enough room to move and can easily see the instructor. I know beginners like to be in the back row, however if you can’t see and you spend the whole class craning to look around a regular you aren’t going to get the best workout and your experience may be less enjoyable or not feel worth the effort and nervousness.

Third, pick a class that interests you and/or bring a friend. Having a buddy can really help take the feeling of being the newbie away. Fourth, have a good time. The point of group exercise classes is to have fun, not necessarily to be the best dancer or have the most flexible body or lift the most weight/do the most reps. If those were to goals you would be in what we call “training” not group exercise “class”.

And very last – don’t let your fear of looking silly or being a greenhorn in the room stop you from trying out something new. We need new and challenging activities not just for our bodies but also for our minds. Who knows the “class” you thought was interesting may become something you enter into “training” for.

Photo Credits: Rubber Tubing Group & Lunging Group

Outlining Your Next Fitness Plan & Sticking with Your Goals.

It’s time to consider what the next steps of your health goals will be. If you started something new with the new year, it’s time to consider how you will evolve it. In December we taught you SMART goal setting, a few weeks ago we started asking the questions to focus your workouts for the next stage of your healthy living. Now it’s time to make a concrete plan for the next level. Are you ready to take control of your life and move toward ownership of your life experiences?

It’s often hard to stick with a new year’s goal as we move past February and into spring. As the seasons change so does our motivation, focus, and routines. It’s time to consider how you will change your patterns to reflect these changes so you stay on track and aren’t waylaid by unexpected obstacles – like time changes and sunny, warmer weather.

What days of the week will you workout? What time of day? What type of activity? With who? How long will you do these activities? Research shows us that people tend to be most successful when they plan 3-4 days of “exercise” per week, engage in activities they find fun and enjoyable (read this may mean hard, even uncomfortable – because accomplishing a challenge is important to motivation), and with friends they feel supported and challenged by.

This is a fun video – I don’t necessarily subscribe to doing the same exercise everyday, yet notice how these 3 people begin talking about themselves and their ability to accomplish their goal just by nature of making it a challenge to complete everyday. That’s what you are after – day 10’s surprising and spontaneous focus on the goal.

How will you incorporate these items into your life moving forward? Now’s the time to make your dreams happen. You have the power within you to determine your life and make things happen. Start small, focus on one small step each day, and watch changes in your self confidence and sense of personal mastery grow.

I challenge you to see what you can accomplish next … make it count!

Feel like you need a little motivation and guidance? Try an online class.300x250 YogaVibes Barre and Core Fusion Save 25% Off Monthly

Be Present and Play Hard

Ok, it’s getting to be crunch time and you are bored with the same ole same ole workout. You hit the trail and see kids playing by the park. They look excited, engaged, and exhausted at the same time. You think to yourself … “if only I had their energy”.

Well, some of their energy comes from being in the moment, happy, and focused. Research as shown people who are focused tend to feel more fulfilled and less overwhelmed with daily life. So if you are feeling a bit burnt out – find a way to play.

Engage your whole body, all your senses in something fun and silly. Who cares if you look a little funny chasing your kids around the playground or laughing hysterically with your head thrown back and feet out riding your bike down the hill. Just trust that if you love what you are doing in the moment and all will fall into place.

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Photo Credits: Kids Playing ~ Journeys Are My Diary & Mindful Monday ~andrewmellen.com

 

The Power of Walking

DO NOT underestimate the power of this activity. It may seem like it doesn’t matter much, something you have to do each day, or “not enough” work for you, but DO NOT underestimate how powerful walking can be for an overall active and healthy lifestyle.



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Aim to get at least 10,000 steps in per day. At this level people tend to be more active overall and live a healthier lifestyle. Walking is a great way to get your body moving, help digestion, elimination, and strengthen your heart and circulatory system.

Find walking boring? Download your favorite podcasts or playlist. Try this workout and walk right in your living room! Enjoy.

When is your best time to workout? Morning? Noon? Night?

When are you feeling most energetic and most active? It can be hard enough to fit exercise in, not to mention trying to fit exercise in when you are tired and feeling worn out.

Some of naturally gravitate toward early morning – others toward evenings. Some of us like to be in bed early others could stay up all night. Which are you? Try out different workout times and see which ones fit best into your life.Running Specialty GroupRunning Specialty Group

Then start to plan your workouts around those times. Keep in mind performing an intense exercise session too close to bedtime can keep you energized and up longer than you’d like. Make sure you give yourself about 2 hours to settle down after a hard workout if you are doing your exercise close to your slumber time.

Finding a Workout Tribe

Working out alone has its benefits and its struggles. Many people prefer working out with a tribe.

Find your tribe by considering what type(s) of workouts do you like to do? What time of day? Where – inside, outside, a class, a small group? Then begin participating in the activities you like where others who like the same activity are.



At first it may feel awkward and weird – remember you might the new person in class, however stick with it and give relationships a little time to develop. It’s also important to put yourself out there at times.

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If you are hanging in the corner making it impossible for others to get to know you, guess what – they won’t. Make sure you smile, make eye contact, and say hello on a regular basis. Making friends takes time and hopefully your time for socializing is limited by the time and effort you put in sweating.

Here’s a little help in case making new friends is the tough part.

If you liked this post try these: engaging your family and friends in your workouts or What to consider when choosing a workout partner.

Meditation & Mindful Movement

There is more and more research coming out about meditation on the benefits on mood, emotional regulation, ability to concentrate and focus, as well as, brain development and changes in those who meditate … for the better even as we age.


Looking for a comfortable meditation seat? Try this one. Keep your resolutions this year with YogaAccessories.com!


If your idea of meditation is sitting quietly, legs crossed, eyes closed, with a weird hand position – think again. There are lots of ways to mediate. One popular way is to move. During mindful movement you pay close attention to all the sensations of the body, the way your body moves in space, your breathing, and your muscles. Begin right now. Notice how your body is being held in space. Do you feel places of tension? Ease? Move your arms up, and then return to your starting position. Turn your hands over and back. Walk forward, sit, stand, turn.


As you perform these movements move slowly and pay attention. What does the area around your body feel like? What’s the sensation of the air on your skin? Notice if your body feels like it is pulsing? How far does that pulsing move away from your physical self? Where does your breath go in the body? Can you move it into places you have not paid attention to yet? Places you feel “stuck” or places of tension?

Spend 1-5min noticing these items then return to whatever activity you were doing. Notice how you have changed by taking a short break. How is your concentration, focus, mood? Make a note – mental or physical and plan to repeat maybe today, maybe tomorrow. Just know you are going to continue to practice this mindful movement.

Want to Read More Like This One? Try: Facing Fear With Movem ent,   The Power of Mindfulness, or Body Mindfulness.  And always a fun one: Fuck That Guided Meditation.

Need some guidance? I LOVE this App:Insight Timer

Why Water? Reasons to Drink More Water Everyday

We are 70% water. When we are dehydrated our bodies begin to struggle. We don’t think as clearly, concentrate well, and we get irritated.

Make sure to drink plenty of water every day. It’s recommended that you drink about 8, 8oz glasses a day and compensate if you drink things like coffee, tea, alcohol as these are all diuretics.

Don’t believe me … that don’t take my word on the benefits of water. Check out this guys journey.


The water in foods and other beverages count, but don’t rely on that alone. Often we eat when we are really thirsty so before you reach for food drink some water to determine if what you really needed was hydration.

Ready to challenge yourself to get started on your fitness goals this year? Try a 7-day free trial with Jillian Michaels and take the guess work out of your fitness – Reach your goals in 2018.

Remember, if you are feeling thirsty you are already getting dehydrated! Drink more. Start Right Now.

Want more reasons to stay hydrated? Read more: Stay Hydrated

 

Realistic Goal Setting

Photo Credit: All in The Mind.

People often underestimate what it will take to be successful in a goal. Many times they have chosen a large goal and then fail to break it into smaller pieces. For example I once had a woman tell me she needed to lose 50lbs in 3 weeks for a wedding and she “was ready to work hard to get this done”. Wonderful goal for this woman. It would allow her to move better in her daily life, play with her children and grandchildren, and have more quality of life in health, however 50lbs in 3 weeks is not healthy weight loss. It didn’t take 3 weeks to put that extra weight on, and it wasn’t going to take just 3 weeks to lose it. Healthy and sustainable weight loss happens around 1-2lbs per week. I worked with this woman to do the math and choose a more realistic weight loss plan for her wedding.

Check out this video on setting and keeping SMART goals.

Next we had to break the goal into steps. When planning for a long term goal it is important to break the goal into smaller  more doable chunks. This allows our inspiration, motivation, and behavior to have a focus point we see as achievable. The human mind isn’t so good at following through on long term goals when it gets mundane and things aren’t changing quickly. We humans are programmed to go with what feels good in this moment and what’s easiest, as we like to conserve energy.

Need some motivation? Check out this online course: “Secrets to Vibrant Health” by the Chopra Center.

Here’s the formula for creating a good goal structure. It’s called SMART goals.

S = specific, if I say I want to be more healthy, what does that really mean? Eating better? Working out? Sleeping more? Healthy relationships? Without a clear vision of what that means it is hard to figure out what behaviors I have to change. Start with your big goal and narrow it down again and again until you have a very specific vision.

M = measurable, again say I want to more healthy, how will I know when I get there? Let’s say I decided it was being at a healthy weight for my body and a healthy body fat percentage. These are two numbers I can measure. I can take a pre and post measurement to find out where I am in the process at anytime. Make your goal measurable.

A = attainable, if I want to be at a healthy weight but choose a number well below my genetics I am setting myself up for misery. I may make the number with hard work but to maintain it I will be stuck in a pattern of behaviors that may be too restrictive. There are many places to consult about your goals. Check reputable sources online, hire a expert in the area of interest, read a book, magazine, or blog related to your goals. You have lots of options for knowledge.

R = realistic, similar to attainable however in this one your willingness to put the effort in matters. It may be attainable for you to lost 50lbs however the length of time (approx 1 year) and level of needed attention to the goal may not be what you want to put your efforts into. When you pick your goal making it realistic is important to your success. You can hold the 50lb, year long goal as the larger goal, but make the one you are working on more about the next month or two. Do the math and break your larger goals into smaller chunks.

Finally, make your goal:

T= time sensitive. This is another important piece to holding inspiration and motivation. Again, when a goal feels so far away it’s hard to stay motivated and continue to find daily inspiration to keep us on track. It’s important to make your goal relate to time. For example: 50lbs may be your larger goal, but you get rewarded every week, when you’ve lost one.

The whole process of SMART goals is important to success, make sure to spend some time today focusing on defining and/or refining your goals.

If you liked this one try: Healthy Weight Loss Goals or You Will Reach Your Fitness Goals