Updated: Jul 27
Good afternoon readers!
It's another sunny day for me, and I thought I'd save myself the perspiration and stay inside and write about something that's been on my mind lately.
I like to consider myself a successful person. I've reasonably excelled in school, and am heavily involved in different domains that consistently appreciate my efforts. I have great social groups around me that support my endeavors and inspire my growth. And disregarding the nuanced discussion involving what success even means, I would say that to me these aspects infer success.
So why then do I find my accomplishments so hard to sit with?
It's a paradox really. This mental game that I play. Simultaneously spending all my time wishing and pining for the pinnacle of "success" that others seem to achieve quicker or easier than I. Yet, the second I get an ounce of achievement that I've worked so hard to cultivate my mind seems to immediately pack its bags and anxiously run away.
Some may call this self-sabotage, others may name it unresolved issues, but for me I just think of this action as discomfort. As weird as it is to say, for me being successful can be really uncomfortable. Growing up with feelings of inadequacy, the feelings of being less then, or second best are unfortunately more comfortable than their counterpart. And so, when I've been finding myself increasingly on the other side of the coin it can feel odd and unsettling to see myself in a new light.
I think this is a fundamental challenge, at least for me. And as much as my ideas of inadequacy help propel my success to a degree, there does come a point where it merely blocks further progression.
And so lately, I've been trying visualization to help counter balance these forces.
I am a firm believer that one must really see it to believe it. And there is much research out there displaying the tangible benefits of using your imagination to see your desired future. Because the better one can paint the picture of their future the more specific you can get on what it is your future may consist of. And so I do think visualization is a helpful tool.
Though, the sticking point I've found of this method is that it is NOT now. Quite obvious I know, but it really does make a difference. You can visualize aspects for days, but no physical reinforcement does have an impact on the viability of some of these aspirations. Being frank, I've been visualizing a Bay Watch body since the 8th grade and that doesn't seem to motivate me to go to the gym enough to achieve it.
So then what?
If you can't prepare yourself through imagination what other methods are there to stop us from running from our own desires?
A good question that for once I, myself, really did not have the answer to. And so in my truest Gen Z fashion I went to my most trusted source, and Googled it!
And down did that send me into a rabbit hole of answers. One article lead to a strengths quiz which lead to a robot self-esteem coach that actually made some good points. And, at the end of that rabbit hole, what I found is that there are a lot of ways to decrease one's self-sabotage and increase your self-esteem, and most importantly I found data to show that I am not alone in this habit!
It seems that this feeling of discomfort that I was describing could be best described as Imposter Syndrome where one feels undeserved of their real achievements, and in one prediction up to 82% of people suffer with Imposter Syndrome! (Dr. Dena Bravata.) Though in fairness this was a part of a wide data range which went from 9-82%, my brain obviously jumped at the high possibility of occurrence to make myself feel better.
And, regardless of how many other people experience these feelings of discomfort associated with their achievements, the facts are undoubtedly true, that there are a percentage of others who also feel themselves running from success. And in digging for solutions I found an insightful blog, Fingerprints for Success, which offered concrete suggestions.
According to author Amy Rigby, some of the best ways to overcome self-sabotage and imposter syndrome include instigating resilience through micro-actions that," intentionally and frequently expose yourself to small, low-to-no-risk hardships" (Fingerprintforsuccess.com.) I rather liked this suggestion because it is a way to improve self-esteem and internal toughness in small actions. Far too often, we can think of esteem and mental stories as these firm ideologies that take a large SHOCK to be modified. ( Think: I will become X when Y happens.) And yet, that way of thinking limits our development to surface level outcomes. Whereas, this perspective emphasizes the 'tortoise method' as I would call it, that makes big changes through small actions.
In addition, it suggests ripping the bandaid off for some projects that we've been avoiding...yes the hard, un-fun tasks that we push off and off. I think there is something to the statement that it's hard to think of yourself as a #1 when you know that you still have a basket of unfolded laundry haunting your dreams, and a sea of unfinished projects.
I like the idea that it's hard to be proud of yourself if you are not proud of what you are doing. And it's almost as if I wrote a whole lesson teaching others this fact 2 years ago...
Well, readers I think that is proof enough that we will just keep relearning the same lesson until we actually get it!
Overall, I would say that I have gotten better over time with the amount of success I am able to initiate in my life, but I'm still working on the best ways to handle it. But, with these newly discovered tools and perspective on what it means to be successful, I think that I, as well as you, will be on our way to living a life more satisfied and comfortable no matter our situation.
Until next time :)
I highly recommend the website I investigated for this post, Fingerprints for Success. They offer many highly researched incites into personal development tactics and even have free coaching lessons which help stimulate a variety of personal growth improvements. I choose to start the Personal Power Coach program which will be 8 weeks of working on strengthening my own resilience and self-esteem. I will let you know how it's impacted my development as I advance!
1. Bravata DM, Watts SA, Keefer AL, Madhusudhan DK, Taylor KT, Clark DM, Nelson RS, Cokley KO, Hagg HK. Prevalence, Predictors, and Treatment of Impostor Syndrome: a Systematic Review. J Gen Intern Med. 2020 Apr;35(4):1252-1275. doi: 10.1007/s11606-019-05364-1. Epub 2019 Dec 17. PMID: 31848865; PMCID: PMC7174434.