How I Defeated Imposter Syndrome To Own My Personal & Professional Success

By Bree Stedman

“Hello this is Bree….” I answer the phone through gritted teeth while giving my then 4 year old son the death stare. He’d been pushing buttons again all day, his 2 year old sister wasn’t sleeping and I was done.

“Why did I even have kids – I hate this. I hate my business. I hate being a mom!”

This constantly-repeating head talk was the harsh truth that turned my life on a dime. In 2011 I was a successful independent business owner with a global direct sales company. Professionally, I was known as positive, strong influencer – the go to person if you’ve got a problem. The chick who, despite juggling everything, seemed to have it all together. A regular high achiever, I’d earned overseas trips, free cars, jewellery and a whole bunch of accolades.

I had two beautiful children and a loving and devoted husband. Yep. From the outside it certainly appeared that I had no problems at all. Internally, though, there was a constant battle.

I was a victim of negative, destructive and sabotaging head talk and it was destroying my every perception of the world. Every action was accompanied by some form of commentary – When I achieved a goal in my business I would say to myself:  “I don’t even deserve this, I faked it, I bet I won’t be able to do it again”

When my husband came home my internal dialog was: “Why does he even love me? I’m crazy. I’m a cow. I don’t deserve him. He deserves better than me”. When my children called for me I would think to myself: “What do you want? I can’t stand this – this is NOT THE WAY IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE!”

With the constant company of my inner dialogue, I started to recognize that something needed to change. Particularly when the Head Talk started to fuel my impulsive, inappropriate and angry behavior. I began looking for answers – for ways in which I could ‘let it go’

Self-help books, personal development and empowerment told me that it was possible. I was encouraged to use affirmations and mantra’s every time a negative thought came to mind. With the knowledge of whatever the mind sees the body believes and the function of the Reticular Activating System in the brain (the little web-like function of the brain that supports the conscious thought with unconscious & external real-life evidence) I began to embrace the truth that I could take back control of my stinking thinking.

Sounds easy enough right? I made a list of applicable mantra’s like “I am a calm and confident mom”, “I’m good enough”, “I deserve success”. And I committed to saying them every time I caught myself thinking poorly.

In one course, it was recommended that I create a night time ritual that included a gratitude journal, intention setting and visualizing. Like the perfect student, I followed the suggestion to the letter, sometimes spending 40 minutes before bed writing in my journals, trying to convince myself that the thoughts I had weren’t real.

Logically, I could turn a negative thought into something more serving in a split second. But it didn’t help. Not long-term anyway. Because the next time an event triggered me, those thoughts came screaming back in. The problem was (and is for any woman that gets lost in Head Talk) the stories I told myself were creating a feeling in my body that was taking over.

My emotional state was bubbling under the surface all day long – most days I felt like I was going to explode – feeling out of control and consumed. Every time I thought about being a mother, my body physically reacted with hate. And anger. And shame and guilt. Every time I thought about ‘being successful’ I felt insecure, I doubted myself, I felt unworthy and incapable. When I thought about my husband, I felt myself shut down.

And this is when my learning took on a whole new dimension. Instead of just focusing on the brain and the function of thoughts, I started learning about the Female Factor – the differences between our Gender Brains. And I learned something that shifted my approach entirely. It turns out that women, with our more emotional and hormonal brains, connect feelings to stories up to 25% more often then men.

Which means every single time I would get lost in my Head Talk, every time I would try and understand why things where happening in my life, looking for solutions by looking for the details, I would feel. And whatever underlying emotion I was feeling would be strengthened.

Not only that, but because of the active role of the Reticular Activating System – I would recall past memories of similar situations, and experience external situations in the world to further support the feeling of the story I was lost in. Which would set up the gateway for this line of thinking to be repeated. Again and again and again. To be felt. Again and again and again.

Armed with this insight (and everything else that comes with the Female Factor), I started to look at my Head Talk from a different angle – and that is: “what is this story making me feel and what can I do about that?”

Once I identified what I was feeling because of my self-talk, I could then decide to either ‘hang on’ to the intensity of the emotion (and stay stuck in the story), or I could chose to release it. There are many wonderful techniques you can utilize to do this, but this is one of my favorites….

Step 1. Name the emotion according to what is being felt in that moment “What am I feeling right now?” (this is important, particularly for women because of our larger limbic system – the expressive centre of the brain)

Step 2. Paint the emotion by giving it a color “I’m feeling XYZ, what color is XYZ today?” .… This helps the brain to disassociate the emotion from the story.

Step 3. Visualize a deflated balloon in that color and then imagine inhaling the emotion into the breathe and exhaling it into the balloon, watching the balloon get bigger and bigger with each breath. 3 deep breathes is all that is needed for this exercise.

Step 4. See the balloon full of the emotion, paying attention to how big it is. Pop the balloon and watch it disappear. Because the body believes whatever the mind sees, the emotion will, without doubt, reduce in intensity thereby freeing up space for you to think more rationally.

Step 5. With less intensity now attached to the emotion, turn your attention to an action step to bring back control what can I do about that issue/story/problem now?

For almost 5 years now I’ve been teaching women how to take back control of their head talk through embracing their Female Factor – by working with the ebbs and flows of hormonal fluctuations and the ever present emotions behind every story.

Earlier in 2017 I released my first book “Own Your BS: The No-Nonsense Guide to addressing Female Head Talk” to give women a practical foot up on their inner dialogue. You can learn more about this at www.breestedman.com or join our Facebook Community www.facebook.com/groups/emotionalconfidence

 

 

 

 

Bree Stedman is a Female Head Talk Expert. As an Emotional Confidence Coach, she helps professional working mothers to take back control from destructive and sabotaging self talk. Empowering them with in-the moment strategies that leave them feeling in control and more confident. But what she’s most passionate about is teaching women how to be a positive influence and impact on the world around them by harnessing the Female Factor.

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