Can We Talk About Self Sabotage and Imposter Syndrome?Feb 14, 2023
Is it Imposter Syndrome or Self Sabotage?? How do you know the difference??
I feel like these labels come up often, how do we push past?
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When I left my son’s father I had a plan. I registered to go back to school. My goal was to get at least a bachelor of English so that I could be a writer and an English teacher.
Because I hadn’t graduated yet, I still had a long way to go. I still had dreams of being a journalist or a show host, or maybe a motivational speaker, but I knew I needed to fund my dream. So teaching was my goal.
I was pretty broke. I managed to keep a roof over our heads and food in the cupboard. I had a part time job at a Sears department store, went to school part time, and was on a government subsidy plan.
We lived in low income housing, but were safe and comfortable with tons of emotional support from my Mom and Dad. We’d have dinners and do laundry every Sunday, and when I needed a break they’d gladly take Jake for a night.
Four months into my plan, there was a change in parliament and my subsidy was cut. I could no longer afford rent, or food, and I had to get a second job.
Thankfully, I’m pretty good at keeping relationships with past employers, and leaving doors open really served me. It was just 6 months before that I had left my job at a gas station, so I went back to ask if they had any part time positions available.
I had two jobs. Shift work. I was doing school by correspondence instead of in classes, because I couldn’t meet class times with my work schedule..
Life was bananas! I couldn’t handle it all. I quit school again.
My gas station employers had become like my family. I had worked for them for about 2 years before I left and they had known me as a customer before that. I lived around the corner and would quite often be there buying cigarettes and milk.
They also owned a distributor company for a fine meat product, and snacks and sunflower seeds. They had been trying to grow the territory, and were in need of someone to take it on.
I was offered the job. Part time at first, and they would make up my hours at the gas station to be full time until I built the territory into a full time position.
The job included a big pay hike, and a company van that I was allowed to use for pleasure as well.
This was something I’d never done before.
It also gave me a VEHICLE!
I hadn't had a vehicle since I lost my second one in Winnipeg at 21.
This was almost a dream come true for me. It wasn’t my dream, but it was ONE job.
I also felt pretty sexy and strong.There I was, a compact girl slinging boxes and dollies around a man dominated warehouse like I owned the place.
I was confident, and strong. I was capable and free! After a couple of months, the guys stopped asking me if I needed help loading my truck. Finally, I proved my capabilities and they were tired of hearing, “No,thank you!”
I learned to love the open road, and I learned to drive the icy highways in the dark with confidence. Just like my Dad did as a traveling salesman as I grew up.
Dad and I had lots to talk about at Sunday dinners. He and I both took pride in the ability to “sell an Igloo in Alaska”
It wasn’t long before my job was more than full time, and I was even upgraded to a bigger truck.
My life had begun to revolve around work and being a mom.
I was having a really hard time fitting in exercise, because I was no longer walking everywhere. I was driving the company van. I was no longer running up & down stairs in a department store, and standing at a till. I was sitting for long periods of time in the driver seat.
I began to feel kind of sorry for myself, losing all this time on the road. How will I ever get back to school? I barely see my son, and when I do, I’m tired .
I began picking up a bag of kettle chips and a cup of hot chocolate on my last stop on the drive home.
I felt my body changing. I felt my clothes getting tighter. I went to my mom’s to do my Sunday laundry, and I was feeling fat, feeling uncomfortable, and upset with myself for my Sunday pants feeling tight. I got on her scale, and I was 15lbs up.
Must be all the salt I told myself. I should probably do something about this but I don’t know what. I walked out to the kitchen and opened the fridge and saw a pie.
I asked mom if I could have a slice, and she said, “Yes, just be sure to save some for your father.” As I bent over she said,” Are you gaining weight again? Your butt looks bigger”
Frustrated, I said “Yeah, so I might as well eat while I can, eh”?
I was beginning the self sabotage pattern.
I have no time because I HAVE to work.
I’ve lost control so I might as well soothe myself, because when I gain control I can’t have this treat anymore.
I’d look in the mirror and obsess over what I saw.
I’d stretch my clothes to tell myself they’d fit, if that damn dryer would stop shrinking them.
When I am less busy I can get back on track.
When I lose weight I will feel happy again, and be happy in the mirror again.
But for now, I’m not happy, and I’m helpless.
What you believe is what your reality is.
I shared this with my husband (then boyfriend) Barry. I really wanted to feel better, and I was really scared of going back to my old body. Everyone will say “I knew it wouldn’t last”.
He introduced me to my first diet & exercise weight loss book. “Body For Life” by Bill Phillips and I read it cover to cover. I had an old manual treadmill, and Barry brought me over some extra dumbbells and a weight bench.
I began getting up at 5 am. My workouts were done and my entire day’s worth of healthy food was packed before Jake got up .Then we’d have breakfast together, we’d make his lunch together, and I started having MORE time with him in the morning because I was up and organized so quickly.
I not only lost 15lbs, but 10 more after that, and as I stood in the mirror looking at my leanest self, imposter syndrome set in. This was definitely not my first time feeling the imposter syndrome, nor would it be my last.
It was never enough. I was never enough.
I began binging on cheat days.
"I feel like imposter syndrome and self sabotage are friends. They hang out on the same block and spy on you and wait until the next time they can meet up and strike. They work together like a well oiled machine and when one tires they tag the other to take a round.
They are both waiting, watching. Sitting in the back corner of your brain when you are in the driver’s seat all confident. Just quietly waiting for that moment to ping your frontal cortex with a spitball to knock you on your ass." - from Be Weightless by Karen Wilson
Let’s take this moment to look at them, individually.
Self sabotage often is blamed by lack of willpower. If you feel that lack of willpower you need to read the book “Willpower Doesn’t Work” by Benjamin Hardy.
He suggests it is the environment. What I know for sure is your environment matters, but ultimately you are the one in control. Don't want temptations? Then don’t bring crap in your house. Don’t put yourself in situations where you feel like a victim or when you feel like you can easily lose control.
Give yourself some padding, some armour.
Imposter syndrome is behaviors or thought patterns that hold you back and prevent you from doing what you want to do.
Do you see how easily these two can work together? Back and forth like a ping pong match your entire life if you let them.
And you will. We are human. The most successful people in the world are no stranger to these two. So how do you stop, or at least let these two rest a bit? How do you stop them from showing up at your door, lashing out at you and taking pieces of you with them?
BE SELF AWARE. To become a detective of your environment and understand when and where these two show up. Self Awareness is your first ticket to freedom. This is where it might get a little ugly. You may need to face some things that make you feel like a failure. Failing is good. It's a place to get to know your triggers.
Once you know your triggers you can start the process of flipping those triggers on their head and changing habits. You can’t change habits until you start to identify triggers.
A couple examples from me are as follows.
When I'm with my mom I always want to eat more and I get a trigger for comfort food. I explored that and it routes back to my time as a teen, when I would lock myself in my bedroom with food after school, and my best friends in my Judy Bloom books.
It's not a real need, and I can't avoid my mom. I love her and enjoy time with her, but knowing that helps me make better choices because I know how I feel when I don't . I want to feel good, not gross.
When I quit smoking, my coffee, which I always drank with cream and splenda, or those International Delights creamers, would give me intense cravings. I started drinking my coffee black, and the cravings left. In that situation I could get rid of the trigger altogether and to this day my coffee is usually black. For fun, I'll blend a little MCT oil and collagen powder in it to give it a creamy feel without the sweetness. It feels indulgent.
The second step out of the self sabotage and imposter syndrome is to GET YOUR LIFE IN MOTION.
You have to start doing the things you say you are going to do. Do the things you want to do. Don't wait for the right time. Don’t wait until you're less busy. Until Monday.
Believe with everything that you are that you are the vibrant being you want to be TODAY. Don’t wait until you are there. Self sabotage and imposter syndrome will come in and trick you into believing you are never enough.
I want you to know the difference between never being enough, and never being done, and the ability of loving where you are at, while never being done with wellness. Wellness and weight loss are related. It takes a healthy mind to nourish a healthy body, and a splash of feeling purpose to make a person feel whole.
Furthermore take some time to explore these questions in your journal.
What is your plan?
Start now, at this moment. Once you are doing, more of your answers about yourself begin to come alive. The great news is you already ARE. You are listening to this podcast or reading this blog. . You are not sitting. You are doing something.
You are feeling a desire for something different, and to be the best version of yourself. You are already doing that. Now there are more things you can start doing. What are they? Start writing them down as they pop into your head.
And always remember- self awareness work is a continuim. Not one and done. Revisit self awareness practices daily. And always remember YOU ARE ENOUGH.