“Yes” Women

Impostor syndrome: “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.”

Many of the women that I work with suffer from various manifestations of imposter syndrome. Recently, I have noticed that many of my clients “handle” their imposter syndrome by slipping to a persistent helper role.

Imposter syndrome persistently tells us that we are a “fake” and that we will be found out; that eventually everyone will realize that we don’t belong and they will get rid of us. One tendency to combat these fears is to make yourself irreplaceable. For many women, this takes the form of caretaker or helper.

I recently had a client who expressed how important it was to her to always been seen as reliable and someone that others could always count on. She was always offering to support new projects and teams even when she knew that she didn’t have the time or capacity. More often than not, she would come to our sessions operating on fumes. Completely exhausted and frustrated that no one can do anything without her. She was burnt out and wanted to change this pattern.

As we explored her patterns, we came to understand that this was completely a mess of her own making. She consciously took on more than she was able and was reluctant to give up that part of her practice. On the one hand, she knew that it was making her miserable but at the same time, she didn’t want to give up that important position. She didn’t want people to gripe if she said no to work. She didn’t want people to judge her if she scaled back and she imagined a parade of horrible comments she believed her co-workers would make if she stopped helping everyone. She wanted to be needed. She wanted to be an essential player on every team. It made her feel safe and secure.

This is what imposter syndrome does! It creates patterns of coping with our fears of inadequacy. We craft ways to “cover up” our perceived shortcomings to keep our secret safe. In my client’s instance, she was bending over backwards to be available to anyone for any project, at any moment. She was constantly cancelling personal trips and social gatherings to jump on new projects. It had become part of her persona and it was what made her feel like she belonged–it helped to soothe the fears of inadequacy. It silenced the negative rantings in her head — they couldn’t possibly fire her even if they discovered her inadequacies, too many people NEEDED her!

The patterns that accompany imposter syndrome are not sustainable. It is neither fulfilling nor rewarding to be at everyone’s beck and call. While it filled my client with a momentary sense of pride, more often it made her angry and frustrated. She felt trapped and out of control. She believed she had nowhere to go but to a full-fledged, out-of-nowhere explosive resignation. But in order to avoid that meltdown, my client needed to take a hard look at her helper tendencies and invest in making some changes.

What is it costing you to say yes to work and projects that you really don’t want to do?

What is really motivating you to take on all these things?

What would it get you if you were better able to set boundaries?

What would it be like to be able to unplug and enjoy your personal life?

Changing how we think of ourselves and how we show up in our lives is painful. Facing the fears associated with setting boundaries is hard work — it is FAR easier to just keeping saying yes to every man, woman, child, and dog that want your time and energy. The only way to truly make the shift is to first get really clear on what your current pattern is costing you and what it will cost you in the long-term if you fail to make a change.

Are you sacrificing your personal life and relationships because you are afraid to say “no” at work? What is that costing you?

Some day, you will leave that job and your friends and family will still be there. Your body, your health, your mental well-being will still be with you. Are you investing in those as well? Is your pattern costing you all those things that will remain once this job is done?

Our patterns are persuasive and convincing. It’s easy to believe we are doing the right things. Those tendencies likely created your immediate success, after all. In order to break this cycle, we have to open our eyes and see that these patterns are costing us more than they are getting us. We have to start believing that if we remain in place, we will destroy everything. Because it’s true. We have to see the forest for the trees. We have to do the hard work.

In order to change we have to understand the cost-benefits of staying where we are versus evolving. If you need support deconstructing your current patterns, grab a free session and start re-investing in your own wellbeing. After all, it’s just a job…

Getting Clarity

In today’s hectic world and in our chaotic practices, it can be easy to get swept up in the action of it all. When we lose ourselves to the momentum of our lives, we often overlook the most important question we need to focus our energies: what do you want?

Starting a legal career is much like a mad dash toward a finish line. We spend years working and stretching and pushing to get there. But when we finally get there, we don’t stop. We just keep running. We don’t even realize we are doing it. We just keep going without asking: what’s next?

In order to truly own our power, we must, in every aspect of our lives, pause and allow ourselves to set our course — where are we going?

It’s jarring to wake up one day and realize that we don’t know what we want next. We have gotten so good at following the orders provided to us. We received a recipe for becoming an attorney and we executed. We have long forgotten how to sharpen our tools of agency. We have become disconnected from ourselves and our wants! We crossed that finish line and we just kept going without considering where we wanted to run to next.

It has been far too long since we stopped and asked–where to after this?

No one wants to run a race without knowing where they are going. We set a destination, plan a course, and run until we get there. When we go grocery shopping, we have a list based upon what we want to prepare. We don’t hop in our cars and just start driving aimlessly unless we are running away from something — are you running away from something by aimlessly allowing your career and life to run on autopilot without a destination?

Why is it that in the most important aspects of our lives, we fail to set a course? We don’t try to see the bigger picture. We are running without a destination.

There is only one rule:

When asking yourself what you want and where you are going, don’t allow yourself to be confused. There are no right answers in life. There is no secret path you need to discover to find your way to happiness. When we indulge in confusion, we implicitly believe there is a right or wrong answer. That confusion keeps us stuck until we can know with certainty what’s next. It keeps us running blindly–why stop running if we’re confused about where to go next?

The name of the game is growing, evolving and challenging yourself to become the best version of yourself. You are not going to evolve or challenge yourself when you are operating automatically.

Identify your why — why are you in that relationship? Why do you stay in that job? Where does your current experience fit into your overall plan?

Nothing has to be set in stone and you can change your answers any time you want. The point is that we need to give ourselves some direction. Why? Because to do otherwise is to allow other people, events, and circumstances to run your life.

Failure to identify where you want to go next places your life at the feet of those around you — your boss, your spouse, your kids, your partner. When we don’t set our own course, others WILL step in and fill that void for us.

Do you really want them to determine where you are going?

Your free will and ability to make your life anything you want it to be is the greatest gift you have been given; don’t squander it by floating in the breeze. You are better than that. You are in the driver’s seat.

Every day, reconnect with your whys and wants. Get clear on what you want from life so that you can set your sights on your true north. To do it any other way is to surrender all of your power.

When I work with new clients, the first thing we do is set that intention–what do they want? What is their dream? From there, we start taking massive action to making that dream reality. Work with me and start creating your life from a place of intention.


Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash