Have you heard of impostor syndrome?
It has taken me many years (and lots of personal development) to finally understand that I am a keystone species in my ecosystem. In reality, it was the plant world that had to explain it to me. Not only that, they basically had to give me a swift kick in order for me to let my talents be seen; I was too deep in my impostor syndrome to accept it.
You read right: I suffer(ed) from impostor syndrome… big time!
The Root of the Trauma
At Damanhur Spiritual EcoCommunity where I live, as part of the initiatic path, we create our “individual law”. This document declares your intention to evolve traits you feel are holding you back from living your True Nature.
When I first wrote mine, I was living in the shadows; a place I had become used to over the years. It was a type of self-punishment that masked the fears I had around my big energy and inability to control my mouth.
I’ve always been idealistic. And my ideals inform how I live my life. For as long as I remember, I have been willing to make big sacrifices in order to live the values that I hold dear. Something I have learned does not come as easily for others.
In my lifetime, I have given up homes, fancy cars, experiences, and even much loved foods (not an easy thing for a Taurus that eats with her eyes) in order to live in alignment with values that I believe are important for me and for all of the planet. My mother says I have a huge heart and incredible discipline. I just think some things are more important than my personal pleasure.
So when I would see people saying one thing and doing the other, I felt it my duty to point it out… repeatedly. And the use of my ideals as an excuse to batter people that did not live up to my standards had earned me a reputation as someone… let’s say… “difficult to deal with”. It also set me up to compare myself against incredibly high standards (because before I could judge others, I first judged myself) that I never really felt I could achieve.
Hiding for fear of being Judged
I could write a book just about the numerous “not so nice” labels associated with me. These, in some cases well deserved, titles cost me promotions, friends, and opportunities, because seriously, who wants to ask a sourpuss to come along.
Until one day, as the tears rolled down my face, I made the conscious decision to change.
From that day on, I dedicated my personal development to understanding what triggers my quick tongue and easy to unleash judgement. It is no secret to you that I consider myself a person that thinks in negative thoughts. I’ve learned to evolve this inherent personality trait into a positive. But before I got there, I spent years weathering the constant storms created by convictions!
Beyond the direct wounds I felt at the mercy of my judgement, there were the unseen side-effects. These invisible traumas sat deep within me, popping up in the most unexpected ways.
At first, I didn’t even realize I had them. I just thought this was the way I would have to be for the rest of my life in order to tame the beast of my judgement. As if I had given up my rights to certain other characteristics as payment for previous damage done to myself and others. I no longer allowed myself to be great, least that it would be interpreted negatively by others.
Giving Birth to Impostor Syndrome
Let me try to explain this a little better, since I am getting all caught up in the niceties of language. I will be blunt. Since I was “difficult to deal with”, I thought I was not allowed to be better than someone else at anything. Out for fear of being considered arrogant. And my standards were so incredibly high, that what others saw must have been based on some smoke and mirrors parlor trick that I didn’t even know I could do. I must be a fraud!
There… I wrote it out for the world to see. Feels frightening and liberating all at the same time.
Have you ever watched a movie where a princess gives the crown to someone less fortunate because she feels guilty for what she has? Or the talented singer that instead of accepting the record deal, works day and night to help a friend build up her skills to get one instead because she doesn’t think she is as good as they say she is?
That was me.. constantly.
I felt like if something came easier to me than it did to someone else, it was probably not real. Plus I was not allowed to accept any recognition for it. Instead, I had to do everything in my power to help the other person.
I did this so much and for so long, that I no longer believed I was genuinely good at anything. And to atone for my sins, I became the support person working behind the scenes to help others; never allowing the limelight anywhere near me.
It’s A Vicious Circle
Over time, you convince yourself that you have no personal success because you are not good at anything. Even though the reality is that you don’t allow anyone to see your talents worthy of success. It is a vicious circle:
- I am not good at anything, so I focus on others.
- I am so busy helping others, that I don’t nourish my own talents.
- I don’t nourish my talents, so I can’t possibly be good at anything.
And round and round the hamster wheel you go.
Stepping out of the shadows
At some point, you become cognizant that you’re hiding. My negative thoughts were evolving into a positive feature and my judgement subsiding. So naturally my talents started to shine through again. But if someone noticed them, I would hide. They were probably just being kind, there was no possible way I could be good at anything anymore; too much time had passed.
I didn’t really know I was hiding. I thought I was a fraud that didn’t deserve recognition because my personal talents had not been allowed to grow and what I did have wasn’t for me, it was for others.
This is how impostor syndrome sneaks up on you.
At first, you genuinely believe that you are not good enough to do it alone, so you focus on others. You study, practice, learn, and perform for another, which means you don’t deserve any recognition for yourself. For some reason, it feels safer to stand in the shadow of another person; even though you are doing the work.
Time For Change
I knew deep down that I could make a bigger impact in the world if I stopped holding myself back.
My ideals started to nag at me. I have a life purpose to complete and was given a set of talent to do just that. If I kept holding myself back, wasn’t I wasting this opportunity and risking the planet’s evolution? All because I didn’t live up to my part of the cosmic contract my soul signed before this incarnation?
The more I learned about the importance of my life purpose in order to accomplish my soul mission in order to be a part of the evolution of our entire cosmic ecosystem, the more evident it became that hiding wasn’t the answer. And with this swimming around in my mind, when I sat down to write my individual law, I wrote:
“I have the courage to express my talents. I have the strength to launch myself in new and unexpected roles instead of always staying behind the scenes.”
An Oak Tree Gives Me Permission to Shine
An oak tree spends the first part of life putting down roots. Ki grows tall and wide, building a solid foundation with a luscious canopy that takes in lots of sunshine. Ki accepts the attention, bargaining with the mycelial networks to get the best nourishment in exchange for excess sugar.
When Ki reaches a certain level of stability and maturity, the cracks and fissures that stand as testimonials of lessons learned through difficulty become the spaces that protect other species from the same dangers. Energy acquired through years of successful production and exchange, are freely shared with those that have not yet learned how to acquire it for themselves. The oak’s body and experiences provide nourishment and safety for other species to evolve and transform.
These wounds become home for ants, squirrels, and birds. The thick bark is a foundation for moss and lichen. The excess acorns and double wood created after an injury feed many organisms, while the sawdust from an aged trunk gives nutrients to the soil.
Each organism thrives and is able to accelerate their own growth thanks to what the oak provides. And the oak can only provide because in the preceding years, Ki was able to live the full spectrum of talents and characteristics contained in Ki’s acorn and environment.
And that is what finally gave me the permission I needed to step out of the shadows.
Aligning With My True Nature
The more I embodied my True Nature in the first part of my life, the better I can help others do the same now.
It is only through my experiences and knowledge that I complete my life’s purpose. And only by living fully, can I teach others how to do just that; preferably faster, easier, and even bigger than I ever could.
So instead of punishing myself or feeling like an impostor when I go big, I shift my focus. I focus on the fact that in addition to contributing to my own soul mission, I have the opportunity to help you achieve yours.