Originally posted on www.beyondthefear.com
There are a lot of people out there talking about fear. Why is that? Why do so many people see a need to help others recognize their own talents and self-worth, to guide them through fear and on to confidence? The supply is there because the demand is there; there is a serious epidemic of fear going on, and it starts within ourselves.
There are plenty of extrinsic fears to worry about, but it’s the intrinsic fears that are the most difficult to overcome. In a way, this inherent fear becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that is very tough to escape. We allow our fear to hold us back, keep us safe in the places that we are, and prevent us from gaining the confidence that is required to accomplish something great. We remain ever fearful of believing in our own potential. Instead, we choose to believe that we are inadequate, which protects us from believing the most fearful thing of all: that we could be extraordinary.
This kind of fear has a name: the impostor syndrome.
Have you ever doubted that you were capable of doing a job you were selected to do? Ever felt like you didn’t really deserve that raise or that promotion? Ever held back from raising your hand because your answer couldn’t possibly be correct? Ever felt fraudulent in your success, and that any day now you’d be found out? Chances are that many of you are familiar with the types of fears associated with the impostor syndrome. You could be 100% capable of succeeding, but you doubt that you are even qualified to try. These are the fears that prevent us from recognizing our full potential, the ones that hold us back from standing out or becoming leaders.
Not too long ago, I had a little help confronting and devising a way to battle my own impostor syndrome. I was treated to an hour-long presentation by Andrew Warner, a young entrepreneur who is no stranger to fear. Andrew’s story is an interesting one—an extraordinary one, even—and he’s using it to teach others how to build an active opposition to what he calls “the counter mind.”
Andrew’s motivation and expertise comes from his experience suffering a significant (and very public) business failure, and turning it into an opportunity to learn from other business founders who had succeeded in avoiding the mistakes he had made. Andrew rebuilt his site, mixergy.com, and turned it into a place where he could share the knowledge he gained from hundreds of interviews conducted with successful entrepreneurs.
After telling his audience about succeeding, then failing, then succeeding again, Andrew told us how his experiences have helped him combat his counter mind (negative thinking) and find his true mind (thoughts that are true, useful and wanted). Andrew realized that many people struggle with self doubt and insecurity (that persistent impostor syndrome), so now, along with speaking and giving advice on entrepreneurship, Andrew is also talking about combating intrinsic fears. His method for diffusing the counter mind and expressing the true mind incorporates three steps:
1. Pick one issue that triggers your negative chatter.
2. Pay attention to your counter mind thought. It loses power when you bring focus to it.
3. Question your counter mind thought: Is it true? Does it matter? Use your true mind to challenge the thought.
As those of us in the audience worked on the exercise, Andrew, who is also an ultra runner, gave us an example of his own:
• An issue that triggered negative chatter from his counter mind: Not running.
• The thoughts his counter mind delivered: I’m not an athlete, running is hard, boring, I can’t run without pain.
• The challenge from his true mind that kept him focused on what mattered: Running makes me feel free, strong, energized, and fit.
In addition to the three steps above, Andrew gave us an exercise for strengthening our true minds:
Think of a true mind statement. Sit down with your hands splayed out above your thighs. Repeat the statement as you press your fingers down one by one. Repeat the exercise for seven days, and after this time, you will believe the statement you used.
It’s been a few months since I heard Andrew speak, and I have yet to try out his exercise for a full seven days (although I am actively aware of my chosen true mind statement), but his lessons have remained prominent in my mind. Insecurity, self-doubt, fear of being exposed as a fraud—these are all symptoms of the impostor syndrome that plague so many of us and keep us from recognizing our own potential. People want to succeed, and they want to believe that they deserve it. Andrew’s method of diffusing the counter mind and expressing the true mind is one way to help us build the confidence we need to get from where we are to where we are meant to be.