First of all, as I sit down to begin writing this, I think it sounds pretty stupid that I'm even doing so, a feeling which is understandable yet invalid, as I deal with an almost crippling amount of self-doubt on a daily basis. I don't mean to be repetitive here but I truly think this is an important topic. I hope most would agree that we are facing not only a global health pandemic but an emotional one as well. Depending on where you get your information on the subject, there are anywhere between two and ten basic human emotions, those emotions which drive all we do in life. These emotions are engrained in the very fiber of our existence, inherent in all we do and experience. Whichever list you look at, happiness (or joy) is present. Happiness is a basic emotion, an emotion to which we all have access. So why can it be so difficult to access it sometimes? At the very core of it, and in a very dumbed down way as I don't have the knowledge or vocabulary needed to completely describe it, our happiness is often dulled by the societal fallacies we allow ourselves to subscribe to; also driven in part by our upbringings and introductions to society as a whole. I began thinking about this today as I woke up in a rage for reasons I still don't fully understand.
In an effort to begin planning for a new career over the course of the next couple years, I have journeyed into the world of #Freelance #CopyWriting and #ContentWriting / #ContentGenerating. As I begin attempting to learn the ins and out of the industry, I have joined several #Facebook forums dedicated to the cultivation of the crafts. One of the common themes which comes across in these forums and groups (something I've faced quite often in other facets of my life) is the daunting monster that is #ImposterSyndrome. Anyone out there familiar with this concept? If you're not, I'll briefly explain. Actually, I'll let Webster's Dictionary explain it in the most eloquent manner they can offer:
anxiety or self-doubt that results from persistently undervaluing one’s competence and active role in achieving success, while falsely attributing one's accomplishments to luck or other external forces.
Do you guys understand how utterly ridiculous this concept is? Imposter syndrome basically boils down to self-sabotage for the sake of self-sabotage. Often times it is more "comfortable" to believe you are destined to fail than to face the difficulties of moving forward. Allow me to illustrate with a selfish example. Say, for instance, you fancy yourself a very well spoken #writer 😁. Say you have empirical evidence to back this idea up. Let us even say that have occasionally been paid for the #publication of some written works, thereby verifying that fact. Though you have shown beyond the shadow of a doubt that you can, in fact, express yourself eloquently using the written word to a degree which people will pay you to read it, you still tell yourself on a regular basis that what you are producing basically equates to a steaming pile of dog waste. You tell yourself that, regardless of what your previous experiences are, those were flukes. Your past success, regardless of the magnitude of said successes, were simply either people being overly kind (maybe even patronizing you) or random streaks of luck in an otherwise laughable attempt to gain traction with something you are obviously completely terrible at. Imposter Syndrome!
This is why, as I opened this, I said it sounds stupid to write it. Speaking Imposter Syndrome out loud sounds like the dumbest concept on the planet. Who would honestly treat themselves in such a manner? I never would, that's for damn sure (he said as he questioned the validity of EVERY SINGLE WORD). Damnit, I guess I would. Therein lies one of the biggest issues with Imposter Syndrome right? Akin to depression; it is often unrecognizable or difficult to detect in another person as most would not willingly offer up such harsh self-abuse.
Now, on to a point I really want to make with this. I am starting to believe, as I have demonstrated recently with my therapist, that Imposter Syndrome can also apply to a personal relationship to #happiness. As I wrapped up a recent Session, I mentioned briefly that I was one of the most kind and generous people on the planet (in my own humble opinion of course, yet I feel some others close to me would agree). In the words of #BrittaPerry from the awesome NBC Sitcom, #Community, allow me to briefly #Explanabrag. I am that guy who stops for broken down cars on the side of the road to offer whatever assistance my measly knowledge of vehicle mechanics can offer. I am quick to help anyone I see in need. I would buy groceries for someone having troubles in the checkout line without even second guessing myself, yet when it comes to extending that same kindness to myself, I have grown into a kind of masochist.
While most commonly thought about as, from my purview, being related to creative professions, or most likely one's work performance in general, imposter syndrome also insidiously creeps its way into other facets of life. As I journey further into my exploration of personal fulfillment and happiness, I can't help but notice that, while I have what outwardly appears to be an amazing life: married to an awesome woman i've known since high school, two wonderful and well-mannered children, all the #LEGO I could possibly ever want to own 🤣, etc., I still can't shake this feeling that I am not meant to ever be truly happy. It feels, to me, like an attempt at a #ManufacturedEmotion which I don't deserve to experience. Knowing full well I am not alone in this, I can't help but wonder: What the hell man?
I've spoken here, as well as a post on my Facebook page here, recently about ways to overcome some of the more pervasive aspects of the emotional Imposter Syndrome but I think, as I learn more, that one of the only true answers is to confront the #NegativeSelfImage you have and work to understand it. A small nagging part of me honestly believes I am not worthy of being loved in any real capacity; therefore, I do not deserve to be happy; I am not worthy of kindness from others so why I should I show it to myself (I am seriously uncomfortable with kindness from others, it only makes me wonder what their ulterior motives may be). The best thing to do is to understand that these feelings are not true. Everyone, regardless of past, current, or future circumstances is deserved of happiness. In my case, I have lived a life which has often perpetuated these negative feelings and they are a hell of a thing to overcome.
Wow, this is a lot of talking. I'll stop. But I will leave with this. Some weapons I have been introduced to in the fight for happiness:
Meditation: Not a corny, mystic, floating monk dream state. Meditation is a method one can use to better understand oneself and cultivate a better relationship with your mind; to bridge the gap between who you really are and what your inner monologue illogically professes. In the more chaotic moments of my life, my mind launches a sort of disinformation campaign against itself, sabotaging any chance I have of living a fulfilled life. Meditation can be the emulsifier of your true self (water) and the negative self image (oil). Once the two meet, and you confront what is illogical in your mind, you can begin to heal yourself. One great starting point is the Insight Timer app available on both #GooglePlay and the #iTunes store. This app can, at a very minimum, get you started on a meditation practice. Another phenomenal resource is a program called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction created by Jon Kabat Zinn. Read about it here. An easier introduction to the practice can be found in #GuidedImagery, a form of meditation in which you are led through the experience by a guide of sorts. One great resource here is the work of Belleruth Naperstek which can be found here.
Reading: #SelfHelpBooks. I grew up thinking the self-help category was one of the cheesiest sections in Barnes and Noble, then I had a chance encounter with a book titled "Anger" by Thich Nhat Hanh; a book which felt like it was written specifically for me. I say chance encounter, the reality is, AJ bought it for me in an effort to help me begin understanding myself. I will say that, in addition to just reading the books, try journaling along with them. I have been upset with myself recently because I have read SO MANY BOOKS on mindfulness, anger, happiness and, while I understand the material, I cannot seem to put the lessons into practice. With a little help I have realized it is because I am mindlessly consuming the books instead of working with them. It helps to read a section then stop and summarize it on paper, or live journal it. However you best learn new material, incorporate that into your reading.
Talking: If this sounds like the most basic advice (cue obligatory eye-rolling), it is because it is, yet is one of the most difficult pieces of advice for most to accept. The glaringly obvious fact here is that vocalizing what is in your head is one of the best ways I have found to cut through the poison fog narrative in my brain and see that I am self-abusing for literally no reason other than I have been programmed to by society. Whether it be with a therapist you've successfully shopped for, or a close loved one with whom you've established a transitory "no judgement" clause, speaking what is in your mind with someone you trust can often lead you to draw your own conclusions about how inaccurate and unnecessary your thoughts can sometimes be.
Self-kindness: Lastly, and this one can be a doozy (believe me), be nice to yourself. People mess up, everybody slips/trips/falls. We wouldn't be human were we not imperfect and I've seen enough movies to know that even "perfect" robots end up as maniacal dictator overlords, hell-bent on domination. The problem people tend to run into is their reactivity to imperfection.
In closing, let me say this: Over the last 39 years, I have cultivated such a sense of self-judgement that when I make even the slightest mistake, I bash and belittle myself, reliving the mistake in an endless cycle of harsh criticism and fantastic replays hoping to at least see myself having performed better in a different outcome. Over the last several years, I have come to learn how absolutely unnecessary this practice is. To be honest, I'm not even sure why exactly I do it. People-pleaser comes to mind. I have slipped into the comfortable idea that, if I change myself to accommodate those around me, I will always be accepted. That thinking is (pardon the harsh expression) a complete crock of shit. To a certain degree, the highest opinion you should value is your own. Your happiness will definitely thank you!
If you've made it this far, I also thank you for reading. I am always open to discussing matters of #MentalHealth and #PersonalWellBeing. That being said, if I can ever be of assistance in either pointing you to a great resource, talking you through a difficult situation, or just used as a sounding board for current frustrations, please email me or contact me through the page.