The first time I heard the phrase "imposter syndrome" was in the health and fitness community. I thought....hmmmm interesting...and then went about my business. I mean, I knew it happened and I could relate to an extent but I just had never pushed myself to the point outside my comfort zone where I really felt it with regard to fitness or health.
Imposter Syndrome seems to me to be the classic thought process that the other shoe will surely drop when everyone finds out how inept you really are....
Now, despite what I said in the opening paragraph, I do have it in relation to just about every other thing in life to one degree or another. It is based in fear, like so many of the things that plague us all in the modern world of increasing demands and open examination of every aspect of our lives.
It seems logical that the underlying beliefs that make up imposter syndrome build on themselves and at various times have been proven to be accurate, or else we would not fear them. There may have been small instances that should not even matter. Take the one time you did not study for a test like your mom told you to and despite doing well on other tests you end up doing poorly. Suddenly you really are "the slower one" amongst your siblings. You should actually attribute the "failure" to not studying and be done with it but you don't. Instead, you attribute it to the belief that you really ARE slow, that the other tests were simply a fluke, that you were lucky for awhile and now your luck has run out.
There is a theory that our minds remember negative if this then that situations more vividly than positive situations. It is part of the survival mechanism. To me this is a very important part of imposter syndrome as it relates to the challenges of the professional environment and even our personal lives. Much of growing up is learning, through trial and a great deal of error. It is hard to not focus on the errors rather than the successes. Again, it is in our make-up and is how we have survived. It is also a little bit of the power of nurture and environment. I am reminded of another theory that talks about the hypothesis that those of us who say we "don't like people" may feel that way because our core, early experiences with people were negative. Perhaps there was family strife or it just was not a supportive environment, or maybe our interactions with our peers were not the best when young. For whatever reason, we learned that people were not to be trusted, that they were mean and you had to "watch out" or they would hurt you. Again, an example of negative experience shaping an underlying belief system.
Now, the good news is that when we become adults it is up to us what we believe. We can make the choice to work on our internal dialogue and our ideas that we are less than deserving of success. I find it is easier said than done, like most things worth doing, but we owe it to ourselves to try.
Imposter syndrome is why I have always been an adorably witty underachiever (not my label someone called me that once - a professor actually). I sat in the back of the class (always), only participated when my grade depended upon it (ie - you join the discussion or points come off), and preferred to take good notes, listen, observe and then get mostly straight A marks. In my mind, the grade was what it was about, right? If you are going to force me to be verbal by saying my grade depends on it fine, but otherwise you want me to answer the questions correctly on paper and be able to write well. OK, I can do those things now can we move on?
The things I deemed myself not good at (social interaction, getting along with others, caring about people AT ALL, being in the spotlight) I would figure out ways around and most of those ways involved observation and doing the work just as well as those around me who were busy sucking up and NOT doing the work. Being an underachiever protected me from imposter syndrome because, well, I was often not living up to my potential in other people's minds but I was doing just fine in my humble opinion.
Now, I must point out that there is something to be said for knowing yourself well and not getting so wrapped up in achievement that you become a stressed out, hopelessly type A individual. That very scenario is something I have always weighed carefully when the questions of added responsibility, career advancement, even personal changes came up. My lifestyle and my approach always put me squarely where I was comfortable being. In the back of the classroom observing quietly, yet working hard and making myself indispensable in the subconscious of others. How? Frankly, by doing "the work" so damn well and without fanfare.
Then the oddest thing happened. Well, two odd things actually. 1. I had to either buy a horse myself or live without horses in my life. 2. I had to decide whether to accept an interim position running my organization while a most complicated and possibly highly controversial merger of systems is undertaken in my community. My community? Uggggghhhh the very sound of it turns my stomach. LOL.
The first odd thing was hard enough to work through and I still, almost daily, feel like someone who possibly should not even be allowed to dream of having a horse. I don't know enough, I'm not good enough at it, I'm gonna screw him up...the list of reasons constantly running through my brain is endless. The second odd thing I could have declined on the very basis that someone who still flies her inner punk Anarchy flag should not use the words "my" and "community" in the same sentence without the knowledge that she has sold out to THE.MAN. Further, both of these oddities (although in different ways) signify that (OMG) my responsibility meter has gone from a manageable I got this to some over the top feeling of holy sh8t there is no turning back now...
So the imposter syndrome is rampant in me right now is what I'm saying. I'm reeling with it. I wake up every day, look in the mirror and expect my face to slide off, revealing some awful, sniveling wretch who can't tie her shoes and talks to cats who aren't even there. What do I think I'm doing anyway? This can't turn out well. How dare I? I'm not supposed to get to this point. I don't deserve to have a horse or manage things, I'm just a girl from some Podunk little town hell it is a miracle I even made it to college... And on and on it goes.
So, I have been trying to engage in more logical inner dialog and am finding it very hard work. I guess that is the only way to work through illogical systems of belief. At work I can pull from actual objectives met, things accomplished, processes moved forward. With Takoda I am keeping a detailed journal that includes things we are working on, progress, set backs, possible related factors. In trying to take the emotion out of the entries I am hoping the inner voices will change.
I'm thinking this might not be the time to pick my guitar back up (you know, the one I haven't played in six months). Then again...
So the pendulum sways.... While in New Orleans recently we happened upon a lovely rock shop. I was fiddling around touching various gemstones and I lost myself in thought and being mesmerized by all the shiny things (captain) ;)....
And a glittery little pendulum caught my eye. I normally am drawn to stones of watery color. You know, greens, blues, even purples... But this was a beautiful, earthy orange colored stone, almost the shade of say, Georgia clay or the Grand Canyon. And in it were flecks and sparkles that glistened and glinted off the shop lights. I picked it up and let it rest in the palm of my hand. It felt good and solid. The shape of it fit my palm nicely. I had thought that on this trip I might find a new pendulum. I have one that was a gift to me from my Reiki Master. I keep it in a sachet in my truck so that it will always be with me during the day and use it with the horse that I lease or when away from my alter/home. I have another that I am making myself to keep downstairs in our basement for when I do my morning ritual and I have been wanting a third to keep on my main alter upstairs. It would seem that I had found my new pendulum. I considered this. I don't like to make hasty decisions on things like magical tools and most of my stuff is handmade by me or I have received as a gift at one time or another.
So, I spoke to it. I introduced myself and explained that I had some questions for it. Sam thinks I'm nuts so I don't suppose any of this embarrassed him any more than normal. I asked it to show me various things. Things like how it would tell me yes, no, or even let me know that it either could not or would not answer me. It told me these things readily. Hmmmmmmm.....
It was only then that I even looked at the label where it had rested. Goldstone. Hmmmmmm again.... Attributes? No clue. So, I trusted the stone and my answers and thought about the adventure of getting to know it as I made a beeline to the counter to purchase my new pendulum.
I have since found some very cool information on Goldstone, also known as Aventurine Glass, including an awesome blog entry by C.L. Matthews:
House of Daedalus Blog
It is a lovely, lively little pendulum. By far the most outgoing one I have. I think my Goldstone must be like Christmas lights, always twinkling and lifting my spirits. Right now it is resting on my main alter, beside my handmade counting beads and on top of my wooden box that holds my tarot decks. Can a stone be happy to see you? Everytime I get it out it seems happy, like if it could speak it would say hey howya doin' today Gilly? LOL. By contrast my traveling pendulum is more....about the flow. I feel like it says peace be with you and like that peace radiates from it.
Interesting these different personalities. Once I finish making my morning ritual pendulum I will be interested to see what personality it has.
Well, the Balance Cleanse has been successfully completed. I awoke today to fresh snow, Sam will be home this afternoon and I feel like I have accomplished much in the last week. Some of it was even unexpected and more than I originally planned. I did a day by day little diary in the Living Well blog.
But, overall – WHAT did I learn? What did I end up focusing on more or less than I had planned? What were my successes? What do I need to rethink?
First, my dreams were “off” and I could barely remember them. I am not sure why as I was drinking my favorite dreamy teas and open to them but… Maybe just the change of rooms or the fact that I was meditating every night changed my sleeping habits? I would think it would have been just the opposite and my dreams would only be more vivid and interesting but that ended up not being the case. In any event, dream journaling is a habit for me now so that isn’t going anywhere.
I slept wonderfully though. I don’t think I had fractured sleep any night. I had the dog to contend with – he is a bit of a bed hog. And on the last night the cat decided he wanted to play at 1:00AM. But, for the biggest part of the week I slept like the dead, woke feeling rested and not once did I set an alarm. I woke automatically between 5:30 and 6:00 and felt like it was “time”to start the day. One weekend day I actually slept in. It really is a different feeling to wake when your body wants to. But, I realize THAT hinges on sleeping when your body wants to. Something not many of us are good at.
No TV! Yah! This one was easy. So friggin easy. I did watch TWD on Sunday night but that was it. Gosh it was SO freeing. I almost wonder if the damn thing works anymore. LOL. I guess I’ll find out later today when Sam turns on some loud, annoying basketball game. LOL.
My daily meditation was a success! I totally feel like I could incorporate this into “real” life now. And I believe that I may actually be getting better at it.
Everything more detailed is covered daily in the Living Well blog. What I did not cover there and I find to be MOST important as a reminder to myself and possibly something we all should consider in spending time alone – I was reminded of who I AM.
It is like this – we live with people we love and are surrounded by coworkers and friends almost every single day of our lives. Their energy has an impact on us that we don’t even think about or take into consideration. But it DOES impact us and the way we view and react to the world. I have been told by two professional practitioners at this point that I have a very psychic personality. That personality is very open to the energy of others. It gets bogged down by it. It gets invaded by it. That energy will begin to mute my own energy and change my outlook and actions if I am not careful to manage it. I had never really considered this before being outright told. I knew that I was easily affected by the moods of others AND by crowds and psychic stimulation, lots of noise, etc. I don’t like to be in crowded places or situations where people are running around like ants. It makes me feel drained and overwhelmed. You can see why I am only a fan of cities for brief visits! But, I never considered, daily and then building upon that, the effect of this energy on me and my mental health.
Being alone and experiencing myself for a whole week reminded me that I need to guard my outlook and myself, my moods, my perspective. THIS is the key to contentment and so many other things. If you,
yourself, have your own mental house in order, no one can penetrate that, not even the numbskulls you encounter on a daily basis.
I have an opportunity not often available to me in my line of work and life right now. That is I have a great deal of "down time" coming up, amounting to about a week and thought it would be a glorious time to cap off the inner season with some serious thought, journaling and work. I came up with the idea of a Balance Cleanse because it became apparent to me during a recent astrological consult that my suspicions about where balance is needed in my life are right on. I know myself quite well, despite my specific propensity for hiding truth behind great stories and a somewhat self-deceptive nature LOL. I have learned to manage this trait quite well in my life, sometimes to the point of fault, actually. I also decided to undertake the experience because, frankly, I have not been feeling well for some time now, probably since the holidays. One nagging physical ailment after another that I have kept chalking up to training, tweeking, not stretching enough, just getting old LOL...
This all came to a head this week though when my back continually would become so stiff and tight that after sitting for even a brief time it took me standing in slow motion to be able to straighten my spine and walk correctly. Thankfully I had fashioned that stand-up desk at work so much of my week has been spent there.
But, to digress a bit for purposes of clarification - I rate back pain with a pretty big stick. I've had multiple ruptured discs and a surgery already so when I say my back hurts....well, it probably hurts worse than average. The pain has now radiated elsewhere and beyond that, my muscles seem to be simply spent from the mere act of carrying a laundry basket up the stars. This.Is.Annoying. So, I have a doctor's appointment scheduled but I hold out little hope for our Westernized medical community anyway and figure some self healing can't hurt.
The physical ailments are also a real bother because I actually recently decided that the physical manifestation of me needed a break from the front seat of my waking hours. So, having done that, I get all kinds of physical issues popping up. LOL. But, I have also done some creative self care and exploration this season. A caffeine detox, joining an herbal group, astrological consult. The detox was successful, the herbal group is a blast and the consult revealed loads of useful information.
And in that information is still the need for balance, despite these aches and pains. Balance between mind, body, spirit and self care. Having deemed 2013 the Year of Loving Thyself, LOL, I forge ahead. So, the BC includes:
1. Daily Meditation - doesn't matter how long or short but at some point during the day, the lights go out, a quiet spot is found and I meditate. I sometimes meditate with just music but for this cleanse I decided on guided meds - using a combination of the old Meditation Oasis app stuff as well as a couple of new ones I found recently. My new favorite turns out to be one called - Love Your Body, Love Yourself. It is around 40 minutes long.
2. No TV. This very much pains me for the Walking Dead is to premier! LOL. So, I will allow myself that one guilty pleasure, no, I mean oxygen-like substance, but other than Sunday night I'll suck it up and watch no tube during this time period. I am not one of those people who is against TV. I just want it to be as if I was really somewhere else, at a retreat of sorts...
3. To further foster this - I changed my perspective at home. I took up residence in our guest room. The dog and black cat have taken up residence with me. Actually THEY have taken up the whole bed. But, it is a lovely little cozy room without a TV and a queen sized bed where I can read, write, and have a slumber party with them so long as I secure my space before they sprawl. Again, I wanted to break out of routine and while our bedroom is easily my favorite room in the house, I just needed to change my perspective. Besides, the 3D Smart TV is just too much temptation.
4. I'm taking a whole week off from any sort of structured physical exercise. Instead - muck, walk the dog if the weather allows, yoga & stretching and I may take a trail run if the mood strikes me and it is warm enough, which it actually is supposed to be at some point. I do think my body needs a break and perhaps the current nagging injuries are proof of that.
5. Dream Journal is at hand for writing upon waking.
6. Modified meals and food prep - this is always my struggle as I am SO lazy about fixing food. Like, SO lazy. Unbelievably lazy. Sam fixes a lot of great and good for you food but I feel like my body deserves to depend on me and not the kindness of my mate. LOL. Like, I should take care of her in other ways than strictly training, right? So, since the Farmer's Market is just around the corner I am concentrating on working my way into the season with more fruit, salads, getting my hands dirty so to speak with baking bread and actually prepping, er, real food. Yah JERF. This is a continual struggle for me as it is for many.
This is my Big At-Home Retreat and I am posting the daily diary of sorts in the Wellness Blog so read on! If you are new to the site - go to the Living Well tab and the Blog is in the pulldown menu.
The main thing that struck me in the introductory portion of my book of study for the season on Druidry:
obviously this is
the Druid is firmly rooted in the earth, the land....and that interacting with the world, here and now, is spiritual.
I can't even express how this resonates with me. I have always had an odd pull between the simple earthy magic that I practice and believe in and the way I learned of magic. Basically, as my introduction to magic and Paganism was through Wicca, I learned that there were rules and rituals and things that should not deviate from what was written. Obviously to a great extent I got
over that. LOL.
My alter moves wherever convenient, might not contain the same things from season to season, I sometimes miss moon phases but remember to talk to bugs in the morning fog, I'm not much on spellwork and prefer to immerse myself in what I think of as "natural ritual" or old-fashioned earth magic. For instance - my horse has sarcoids. I'll employ every option. I'll have the vet visit and treat. I'll use home remedies I have researched and I'm not above rubbing a penny on them and placing it in the earth if I feel it will help.
So, despite my very structured beginnings with my spiritual practice, I still continue to believe that what I do magically is much more base, much less ornate, much more a simple acknowledgement in the magic of everyday life.
If you think about it, there is so much going on around us. I find it fascinating. I look at a day in my life: I do a lot of things before I leave my house, including caring for animals and household chores.
I think all magic is worthy and perfect in its own being. I think all spirituality is as well. So long as it brings the seeker what he/she defines as belief and comfort and it is not pushed on or hurtful to others, let it be. Know it, explore it, believe it and shine within it.
Even the most simple (and sometimes least appealing) tasks can bring me peace. Mucking horse stalls is like meditation to me. I feel so useful, grounded and centered when doing barn work. This is spirituality to me just as much as setting up ornate alters and performing complicated spellwork. To me it is probably more spiritual actually - these practical matters. And so in being drawn to the earth this way I am in turn drawn to search deeper into my own path and see where it leads me.